Lush summer pastures quickly turn to dried fields and scattered leaves with the changing of the season. Prepping your horse for fall is not something to take lightly. Like any change, these situations should be well planned to ensure your horse stays healthy and fit. Put your best foot forward by taking a few minutes to evaluate this current feed schedule before going into autumn.
- Examine his pasture: Your once thriving grass field will significantly lose its nutritional value in the fall. That could mean supplementing your horse’s diet will hay. Try to find the best quality you can. On colder fall nights, the extra work of munching on hay can generate body heat.
- Alternative sources: Don’t be afraid to use hay cubes or beet pulp if you haven’t had a chance to stock your hay loft. These forage sources will also help meet your horse’s nutritional needs.
- Dangerous plants: Many poisonous weeds flourish in fall pastures. Wilted maple leaves can also cause your horse to become very sick. Normally, a well fed horse won’t bother with yucky-tasting plants. Make sure you remove toxic weeds and provide a good source of food to keep him busy.
- Be slow with changes: If you want to make nutritional changes, whether to grain, hay, or supplement intake, make sure to do it gradually. Anything abrupt can cause a horse to colic. Extend grain changes over a period of at least three days and start with only 10%-15% of any new hay mixed with old per feeding.
- Encourage drinking: Some horse can be very picky when it comes to cold water. They tend to drink less during colder months. Try to keep water somewhat warm and use an electrolyte if you notice he isn’t drinking much.
- Deworm, if necessary: A fecal egg count can help you treat your horse with the correct dewormer. A wormy horse will loss weight and become unhealthy quickly.
Don’t let this season sneak up on you! Fall is a great time to prepare your horse for a nasty winter. It might even be a good idea to consult a veterinary or nutritionist if you have doubts about your horse’s correct feed plan.