|First Posted March 12, 2008|
Jul 22, 2010
Feeding Stabled Horses
by Debora Johnson
There is so much to know about horses that often it is overwhelming. What do you feed a horse? How much? Does exercise make a difference? What is your discipline with your horse--competition, endurance, pleasure riding, etc.? What criteria must be considered in the feeding of your horse? What is most important is to meet the nutritional requirements of your horse. Horses are grazing animals by nature so foraging for food is their natural way of life. If a horse is unable to meet those nutritional requirements by pasture grazing, then the type of hay that is used is very important. A good quality of forage is important in all feeding programs, especially if your horse is stabled most of the time. Do not let your horse get fat as this increases the chance of founder and colic, particularly if your horse has little exercise. We tend, often, to overfeed our horses with grain and rich hay. Research has shown that a good quality grass hay is all that is needed for most performance horses that are stabled. Young growing horses, lactating mares, and pregnant mares who are late in pregnancy can have legume hay. Research has also shown that offering more than one variety of hay can reduce stable vices and the tendency to eat bedding. Eating straw can cause colic. Water, trace mineralized salt, and adequate exercise are necessary components in the feeding program for all horses.
They are turned out on excellent pasture for several hours a day, weather permitting. They are turned out in early morning and evening, not high noon when the starches are at their peak. The increased intake of starch may cause a horse to founder. If it is arctic cold extra hay may be given to supply warmth. We do not increase their grain. In the warmer months they spend more time at pasture with hay provided on a need basis. Their weight is watched. We do not want them to get fat; they are both easy keepers. I prefer for them to be out and not stabled. If there is ice, of course, they are stabled. Otherwise, out! There is a sacrifice area that has trees for shelter and the barn has several overhang areas for cover. If the pasture is wet the horses are in the sacrifice area. There is also an area with hay racks and shelter--but not confining like stalls. The water is an automatic waterer that is cleaned every day.
A mature horse drinks about 6-10 gallons of water per day. They are checked in the morning and in the evening all over for any abnormalities. If I were a horse, I would like to be at Kate's. My husband and I pleasure ride (trail ride) between 15 and 20 hours a week. Our horses have vetting twice a year with wellness checks, sheath cleanings, vaccinations, and teeth floatings. We do a fecal in the Spring to check for parasite loads. They are on a regular worming schedule which is on this web site as is their shot schedule. My wonderful farrier, Don Roof, comes every 5 weeks unless needed earlier for some reason. Both horses are barefoot and doing fine. They have good feet and an excellent farrier. We also apply Keratex to their hooves on a regular basis. It makes their hooves like cement. In the wet months we use White Lightning on their feet to prevent white line disease. We also apply thrush buster.