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Horse Feeding Mistakes You Should Avoid

Your horse’s health should be top priority when it comes to providing them food. Unfortunately, while most horse owners enjoy feeding them, it’s easy to make mistakes when doing it. Even these small feeding slip-ups can greatly compromise your horse’s health. Planning your horse’s diet plan carefully and knowing the common horse feeding mistakes will help in avoiding such incidences to happen.

1) Overfeeding
Taking care of our horses and looking after their needs are something that we, as horse owners, enjoy and love doing. This includes providing them with the best feeds possible. Sometimes, we spoil them too much by overfeeding them. Grain, sweet feed and pellets are excellent sources of energy for the horses. However, these foods contain soluble carbohydrates which can be easily absorbed into your horse’s body. Overloading your horses’ bucket and feeding them with more than they actually need may lead to several health concerns. Obesity is the common outcome. Carbohydrate overload can also lead to laminitis, the condition affecting their hooves.

Most horses thrive on a simple diet of good hay and pasture. If there’s a shortage of nutrition, you can only give them supplements. There’s no need for you to prepare elaborate meals for them. Also, check on horses whether they graze too much (it’s usually an indication of stress).

2) Underfeeding
Underfeeding is also a common problem especially among older horses or hard-working draft horses. While it is important for them to look lean, they should not look too thin or emaciated. If hay or pasture is not enough for the working horses to give the strength and build that they need, provide them with concentrates and supplements to make up for the nutrition deficiency. Underfeeding may lead to certain conditions such as colic.

Older horses usually find digesting food a bit more difficult. Providing them with supplements and medicines will help them to break down food more efficiently.

3) Giving the wrong feed
If you think that all horses – regardless of their age, breed, occupation and gender – require the same feed, then you may put your own horse’s health into jeopardy by providing them with food that is intended for another horse. Growing foals and fillies, work horses, race horses, show horses and senior horses have their own different nutritional requirements. Various feeds are developed to give the exact amount and nutrition that your horse may need. That’s why it is important to look at labels and nutritional information first to ensure that this type of feed is the ideal feed that your horse needs.

4) Poor-quality hay
Feeding your horse with poor hay can cause several health issues. There are some hays that are lacking adequate amount of nutrition, and may not provide the energy that your horse needs. There are other types of hays that are not suitable for certain horses and that may lead to several diseases like colic. Old, dusty and moldy hays can impair your horse’s lungs. Knowing exactly your own horse’s nutritional needs will be the key for feeding them with the right type and amount of hay.

5) Failure to provide plenty of fresh water
Keeping your horse hydrated is essential to your its health. Horses that live only on dry hay should have access to fresh, clean and plentiful water which can help in preventing diseases such as impaction colic.

There is some debate regarding overheated horses drinking cold water. Centuries-old advice says that you should not provide your horse with cold water as it can cause colic. But recent studies have proven otherwise – a cold water does no harm to your horse at all. In fact, a cool water may help your horse to quickly recover from exertion. If you are in conundrum whether your overheated horse needs to drink cold water, or not, you should consult your veterinarian first.