If at all possible, feed several small rations several times a day
One of the most important factors in maintaining your horse’s health is an optimally balanced diet. The horse’s digestive system is designed to accept small amounts of food only at a time, as in their natural environment horses mostly graze throughout the entire day.
Hence, feeding should be divided into as many small portions as possible. Hay, silage or fresh grass serve as the basic bulk staple. For working horses, the amount of staple feed needs to be increased and supplemented with concentrates in order to meet the added demand for energy. Suitable concentrates are oats, barley or corn, or complete feeds containing mixed grains in pellet or muesli form.
Even if the horse has a higher energy requirement, it is always better not to give concentrated feed, but rather to increase the amount of roughage (hay) instead, as this better for the horse to digest. Nibbling on forage also keeps the horse busy and stops it from getting bored.
The mineral content in the feed is also important. Mineral deficiency can lead to a number of health problems, including disturbed muscle metabolism, change of coat, skin problems, dysfunction of the reproductive system or damage to the bone structure.
In order to ensure an optimal supply of vitamins and minerals, horse owners should know the content of these nutrients in their horse’s basic feed and then add special mixtures, i.e. so called complementary feedstuff supplements, accordingly. There are different supplements available for various dietary needs on the market. The range includes supplements for optimal hoof growth, for healthy joints and bones, and herbal mixtures for a healthy respiratory system and function.
In addition to feed, horses always need access to adequate amounts of clean water of a good quality. This is especially important if the water is supplied in large containers, as is often the case on pastures, rather than straight from a tap, a well, or from a stream.