Most horse owners have good intentions when they create a diet for their horse. Unfortunately, many people make mistakes when deciding the quantity and frequency of their horse’s meals. No one wants an unhealthy horse, so it’s important you avoid these common pitfalls.
1. Overfeeding: A horse that overeats is at risk for obesity and metabolic disorders. Most horses are able to maintain a good weight on quality pasture or hay. Grains and supplements should only be given to those that lack overall nutrition. Furthermore, make sure your horse is on a deworming schedule and receiving enough exercise.
2. Underfeeding: The bulk of your horse’s diet needs to be in pasture or hay. However, sometimes those sources can be unreliable or scarce. You must make up for that with other forage, such as beet pulp. Senior horses can struggle to maintain weight and should be on a feed specially designed for their needs. Monitor your horse’s body condition regularly.
3. Poor quality hay: Dusty, moldy hay needs to be avoided at all costs. Find a hay supplier you trust that sells excellent quality horse hay. This isn’t an area you want to slack in or be cheap.
4. No free-choice water: Water needs to be available at all times. In cold months it’s important to invest in a heated bucket or ensure the water stays above freezing. Fresh, clean water can reduce your horse’s risk of impaction colic, especially those eating hay.
5. Ignoring parasites: A deworming schedule is essential! Worms can wreak havoc on your horse’s insides. They can steal nutrition and leave a horse looking bloated, skinny, dull, and drained.
Consult your veterinarian or equine nutritionist to get your horse on a personalized feed schedule. There’s a lot of variables to consider when determining the type, amount, and frequency of feeding. Mistakes can be costly to your horse’s health!