Feeding Your Horse – Some Basic Rules

By Ron Petracek

You are what you eat, and this goes for horses as well. Keeping your horse in optimal shape means knowing what to feed, how much to feed, and when to feed. To keep your horse at his healthiest and ensure that his nutritional needs are being met, follow these simple rules.

1.)Weigh your horse. You can’t feed your horse correctly unless you know his weight. But before you bring him into your bathroom and attempt to load him on your scale, you should know that there is an easier, more sensible method. To estimate your horse’s weight, measure his heart girth with a horse weight tape.

2.) Figure out how many pounds of hay your horse needs. A good equine diets consists of a high percentage of bulk, and a low percentage of grain. It is very, very important that you don’t feed your horse too much grain! As a rule of thumb, your horse should be fed 1.5 pound of hay daily per 100 pounds of body weight. If you feed your horse twice a day, split the number you arrive at in half. Don’t just measure your horse flakes of hay. Be sure to weight each flake. You would be surprised, but flakes of hay can vary quite a bit in weight!

3.) Figure out how much grain your horse needs. First of all, you should know that not all horses need grain in their diets. Young, growing horses, lactating broodmares, and horses in heavy work need grain. Other horses can probably do without. Grain should be fed by weight, and not by volume. If you plan on feeding your horse scoops of grain, make sure you know how much each scoop weighs. Each type of grain will have its own weight. Bran, for example, is much lighter than corn. If you need help figuring out how much grain to feed your horse, ask your veterinarian.

4.) Be sure not to overfeed your horses. They say the best way to a horse’s heart is through his stomach. As true as that might be, overfeeding your horse can cause a wide variety of health problems, specifically founder or colic. Be sure your horse doesn’t overeat accidentally by keeping all grain and feed in a locked bin. A horse who gets into grain will eat and eat until he becomes sick!

5.) Be sure not to underfeed your horse. Underfeeding is just as dangerous as overfeeding. Underfed horses are at risk for illness. If your horse is thin and weak, and lacks energy, it’s possible he’s not getting enough food.

6.) Supplement your horse’s diet. Free choice trace mineralized salt is a great way to balance your horse’s diet. These blocks contain good things like salt, iodine, zinc, iron, manganese, copper, and cobalt. A calcium and phosphorous mineral block is another good way to ensure your horse is getting all the nutrients he needs. Depending upon the type of hay you are feeding, your horse will have different mineral needs. It’s always a good idea to ask your vet what minerals will balance out your horse’s diet.

7.) Make sure your horse always has fresh water. Good quality, free-choice water is absolutely imperative to keep your horse in good health. Horses who don’t get enough water can become sick, lose their appetites, and suffer from colic. If you live in a winter climate, it is especially important that you do something to ensure that your horse’s water sources aren’t frozen. Breaking the surface of natural water bodies, or providing a heating element to keep water from freezing, is necessary to keeping your horse well-hydrated.

For more great discussions on horse feed and bedding, stop on by our equine enthusiasts forum by clicking this link http://www.horsechitchat.com/equineforums . I will tell them to leave the door open.

Ron Petracek is the current article director for a rapidly growing equine social network community. He was raised in Southern Idaho with a beautiful jet black morgan as his adventure companion, and the Snake River within a easy ride. Horses and the outdoors are a solid part of his life. For more great information and FREE equine classfieds! Everything from horses to trailers & tack please visit. http://www.EquineMiniMart.com

If you would like to help other learn more about horses than visit our beautiful and friendly equine forum http://www.horsechitchat.com

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Ron_Petracek

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