Horses are herbivores and require a very particular diet as a result. Since horses are herbivores with a digestive system that is very different from ours, they have very particular dietary requirements. Their long digestive system necessitates a high-fiber diet eaten in small doses over an extended period of time. In simple terms, horses eat grass and hay or haylage, but depending on the appropriate work regime and available feed, salt, concentrates, and fruits or vegetables may also be added to the horse diet.
Horses consume many, many small meals rather than a few big ones like we do. They must consume lots of fiber to keep their extremely long and sensitive digestive tract working. Horses spend most of their time eating! Here’s a rundown on what horses eat, as well as what they shouldn’t.
Horse food is very much important for the proper nutrition of horses. Here’s our Horse Feeding Guide, which includes a helpful list of what an adult horse needs to stay healthy. If your horse’s eating patterns alter, or if you find him losing or gaining weight, consult your equine veterinarian right away.
Type of Horse Food
1) Pasture Grass and Tender Plants
Horses eat grass. The horse’s normal diet consists of field grass and tender plants. The majority of the nutrition a horse needs to stay healthy is found in good pasture. It also includes silica, which is beneficial to dental health. Primitive horses can survive on meager rations and must always make do with subpar pasture and living conditions.
This is likely why obesity, equine metabolic syndrome, and laminitis are uncommon in wild horses but common in our domesticated horses. Pasture grass isn’t always the issue; it’s more likely that the type of horses we’ve bred and a lack of exercise.
Those of us who have simple keepers must restrict the amount of fresh grass available to our horses. Introducing lush grass to a horse that isn’t used to it can also be problematic. Strong pasture, on the other hand, offers the best feed for a hard-to-keep horse.
2) Horses Eat Hay
Hay is popular horse food. Many of us do not have the luxury of allowing our horses to graze on grass all year round. If the grass isn’t an option, hay is the next best thing. It can be difficult to find decent horse hay. It’s a good idea to get your hay checked so that any vitamin and mineral deficiencies can be addressed with supplements. Rich hay can be a challenge for some horses, just as rich pasture grass can be. Easy keepers can need to be denied access to a bale feeder 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
3) Horses Eat Grains
Horses are fed oats as a standard grain. Horses may, however, be fed small quantities of other grains, such as corn. Some grains, such as wheat, are harmful to horses. In their natural habitat, a wild horse’s closest equivalent to consuming grains will be the seed heads of grasses.
Grains cultivated, harvested, and processed in the manner in which they are now are not natural foods for horses. It’s quick to give horses too much food. Grain often doesn’t take the same amount of chewing time or have the same amount of silica grass, which can lead to ulcers and dental problems. A horse that eats too much grain can develop colic or founder.
4) Concentrate Mixes
Grass, flaxseed, beet pulp, molasses for energy and flavour, bran, vitamins and minerals, and other ingredients are commonly found in concentrates. Some feed mills will blend concentrates to your specifications, or commercial mixes can contain a variety of ingredients (only practical when you have a large number of horses to feed).
Concentrate blends, like corn, help to compensate for any nutritional deficiencies while still providing a fast source of energy. In addition to grass or hay, mares in foal, nursing mares, success or working horses also benefit from being fed concentrates.
5) Salt and Minerals
Salt and minerals are examples of supplements that can be used in a concentrate mix or sold separately. Horses can relieve themselves when they have a craving by placing a salt block or loose salt in a pasture or stall. Minerals may be mixed in with some salt. Free-choice minerals are also available, or they can be mixed into the horse’s grain or concentrate meal. Many people find that they consume more salt in the summer than they do in the winter.
6) Treats for Horse
All of us enjoy giving treats to our horses. Apples, carrots, or other favorite fruits or vegetables, handfuls of grain, sugar cubes or candies, or even strange stuff like a bite of a hot dog or boiled egg, are examples of these tidbits.
However, feeding horses meat or too many sugary treats, including berries, might not be a good idea. Horses are herbivores, so even though they don’t show signs of colic when fed meat, they can experience pain, and strange foods may affect the intestinal flora.
Of course, a horse won’t make the correlation between the hamburger they ate an hour ago and their current pain, so they’ll eat whatever they want over and over. This is why it’s important to give treats in small quantities. Treats should be included in your horse’s overall feeding schedule and held to a minimum if it has to lose weight.
7) Adequate of Water
A horse, of course, does not “eat” water. Water, on the other hand, is an essential part of the equine diet. 2 A horse that eats pasture grass will typically drink less water than one that only eats hay. Fresh, clean water, on the other hand, is needed for both.
8) Plants Toxic to Horses
Wheat and rice bran, for example, are not recommended as a major component of your horse’s diet. Mineral imbalances may be caused by all of these factors.
Horses are so much adorable and sensitive pets. So as a horse parent you must have to so much conscious about your loving horse. If you’re new to horse feeding, consult your veterinarian or an equine nutritionist to ensure your horse’s diet contains the nutrients he needs. He might develop serious health issues if he doesn’t.