One look at the large size of a horse and it is easy to tell that these animals need a good amount of nutrition. Not only do they need a large amount of food to stay healthy, but they also need the right balance of food to ensure optimal performance. Anyone involved in equine management understands the vital role that nutrition takes in the life of a horse. Not only that, but each horse is unique and has their own set of nutritional needs. With some horses that seem to eat and never gain a pound to other horses that battle fattening up, every animal has their own dietary needs.
While no two horses are exactly alike, the following can help you design horse care that will meet your specific animal’s needs. Check out these tips for optimizing your horse’s diet so they are ready for their next big competition.
#1: Understand The Importance Of Water
Water is vital to the health of your horse. Most horses will consume anywhere from five to 15 gallons of water in a day. For athletes, the water needed could be in higher quantities. The important thing is to ensure your horse has access to water as much as possible. If you can, allow your horse to drink at will. Dehydration in horses, similar to in humans, can lead to a slew of other issues. Water truly is a critical component of your horse’s diet and should always be a priority.
#2: Mimic Nature
Horses are by nature grazers. Their stomachs were designed to constantly be digesting grasses from the fields. This is why horses will do best when they are allowed to roam and pasture. This access to a constant supply of healthy food will ensure optimal health. If you cannot allow your horse to pasture, try to mimic this natural diet as much as possible. Empty stomachs can be harmful to horses. Break up their meals of hays and grasses so that their diet is closely resembling a natural one.
#3: Utilize Grains Properly
Grains can be an excellent addition to your horse's diet when utilized properly. They add a calorie dense option for horses that need a little more than their hay is offering. However, because they are a denser, sugary food, you need to ensure you are not overdoing it with grains. Always feed hay first to your horse, prior to the grain they receive to improve digestion.
Another option for adding in calories for an energetic or athletic horse is to implement oils into their diet, such as vegetable or corn oils. This can increase the calories they consume while still being easy on their stomach.
#4: Don’t Neglect Exercise
While you might not think of exercise in relation to your horse’s diet, it is an important component of their overall health. Make sure that while you balance the food they eat, you also implement the proper amount of exercise for their needs. If your horse competes, you will probably find that you meet all their exercise needs easily.
#5: Watch Out For Sand
If your horse grazes in a sandy area, be aware of how much sand they might be consuming. Eating sand can cause a condition called sand colic. In this condition, sand will form obstacles inside your horse’s intestine. If you do have a lot of sand in the area, consider adding a supplement, such as our Joint Supplement, which will help pass sand naturally.
#6: Add Appropriate Supplements
Another important aspect of a good horse diet is adding in appropriate supplements as needed. Perhaps your horse simply needs a daily supplement that will aid in keeping their coat shiny and their hooves healthy. Maybe you have an athletic horse that suffers from joint pain and you need to add in a supplement specifically targeting joint health. Whatever the case, be sure you add in these important supplements. The right supplements will go a long way in improving your horse’s overall health and their performance during competitions.