Feeding: 10 Golden Rules of Feeding your Horse

Feeding your horse is one of the basic requirements of owning and caring for a horse. However, it is important to remember the golden rules of feeding a horse, especially when you have just brought a new horse or pony for sale home.

  1. Feed little and often – horses are tickle feeders with only small stomachs that are about the size of a rugby ball. For horses over 400kg you should only feed 2kg per meal as their stomachs work best when they are only two thirds’ full.
  2. Ensure fresh water is always available – horses drink approximately 25 litres of water per day, more in the summer or after exercised. Horses can’t survive without water therefore it is the most important nutrient in your horses’ diet.
  3. Use quality feeds – ensure that you feed your horse good quality food that isn’t dusty or mouldy. It is important to store feed in a cool place within a container that rodents are not able to access. All feed bags and supplements have a best before date so make sure you check before feeding.
  4. Feed forage – fibre is an essential part of a horse’s diet providing energy and calories a horse weighing 500kg will require 7.5kg per day of forage.
  5. Weigh the amount of feed – horses should be fed by weight and not volume.
  6. Feed according to body weight / size – the amount of nutrients your horse required will depend on your horse’s body weight. A shire horse will need more feed then a Shetland pony.
  7. Feed according to amount of work – if your horse is in full working and about to compete at Badminton Horse Trials then they will need the appropriate amount of feed for that type of endurance work compared with a horse that is on box rest that will need to be fed less cereal feed.
  8. 1 hour – horses should have at least an hour to digest their food before they exercise or travel.
  9. Make changes gradually – any changes to your horse’ diet need to be introducer or reduced gradually to reduce the risk of colic.
  10. Routine – horses are creatures of habit and like routine therefore feed your horse at the same time each day.