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Feeding Guidance

Weight

Remember horses should be fed according to weight not height.  Country Mix Feeds recommend feeding between 2 – 2.5% of your horse’s bodyweight as feed per day divided between concentrates and forage (hay, grass, haylage).

It is important to have a record of your horse’s weight.  The easiest way to do this is by using a ‘weight tape’.  To obtain the body weight using a ‘weight tape’ measure the girth around the horse’s barrel (just behind the withers and in the girth groove).

Below is a feeding table which will give you an approximate guide of how much to feed your horse or pony based on it’s girth and bodyweight, and it’s workload.

Choosing your Feed

When choosing your feed first consider your horse’s workload.  A horse with a light workload will not require the same diet as a hard working horse.  Then consider your horse’s temperament, choose the correct energy source to reduce ‘fizz’ or provide a calming effect.  Each feed type has accompanying notes to help you choose the best for your horse but our experts are always available to advise if you have a particular problem.  Fricker’s Formula Feeds are designed so that they can be mixed but they should not be used with feeds from other manufacturers.

Workload

Light Exercise: Hacking, Novice Competitions, Showing, Pony Club, Riding Club

Medium Exercise: Show Jumping, Dressage, One Day Eventing, Hunter Trials

Hard Exercise: Flat Racing, Point-to-Point, Endurance, Harness Racing, Polo

Remember the horse has a relatively small stomach.  Too much concentrate in one meal can overload the stomach and cause digestive upsets.  The digestive system functions more effectively when supplied with a fairly constant supply of food.  Divide the daily concentrate into as many feeds as possible (3 to 4).  Never make sudden changes to your horse’s diet, introduce them gradually over several days.

Environment

Ensure your horse has access to clean, fresh water.  Keep your horse’s stable and feed buckets clean as a dirty environment will discourage your horse from eating.  Have your horse’s teeth checked regularly and make sure your horse is wormed regularly.  Ensure that your feed is kept in a dry area which is free from pests.

Forage

Forage contains fibre which is vital for a healthy gut function.  Always complement your concentrates with good quality forage.
Other Considerations

The length of time a horse is stabled, the time spent grazing and the quality of the grass, and the use of rugs will all have an effect on the amount of feed to be given.  Other factors should of course be taken into consideration, such as temperament, type, and how good a ‘doer’ your horse or pony is.

The Basic Principles of Feeding your horse.

As we all know, every horse is different. Whilst the basic principles remain the same, there are numerous other factors to take into account when considering the horse’s diet. These factors include:

Exercise Regime

As we all know, the more work your horse is doing, the chances are he’ll need more feed to maintain condition, and indeed build condition and muscle if need be. Showjumpers will need more fast release energy than, say, an Endurance horse.

Breed/Type of Horse

The Breed / Type of your horse will probably greatly affect the way you feed. Two similar 15.2hh horses standing side by side may look much the same, but their nutritional needs may be totally different. For example, a 16hh Thoroughbred, may not be such a ‘good doer’ as a 15.2hh Welsh Cob, due largely to the job they were bred for, and require more feed designed to build and maintain ‘condition’ .

The ability of the Native ponies to maintain weight can however have a flip side. Native types such as these and particularly the smaller ponies can be particularly prone to Laminitis and your ‘low maintenance’ native may well turn out to be quite the opposite, needing careful management of their access to food.

The forage already available to the horse

This one’s quite self explanatory, if they are on good quality grazing they will need less extra feed than one on poor grazing.
Another important thing to consider is the level of selenium in the ground where your grazing is. A lack of selenium can cause a weakened immune system, and long term deficiency can even lead to muscular problems.

This is by no means an exhaustive list, as the factors affecting the choice of a horse’s diet are endless! It can be very easy to forget that the horse naturally evolved living and grazing on the plains. Unlike a cow which has one stomach comprising of four different compartments, each with its own part to play in the lengthy process of digestion, a horse only has one stomach which has to do the lot!

Because of the way that horses have evolved, this should give us a very good starting point when working out a Feed Regime. In an ideal world, horses would survive on good quality grass and hay in the winter. However, because of the burdens of work we put upon them, and a number of factors listed above, this simply isn’t enough – or maybe in some cases such as Laminitis, it’s far too much.

As with humans and any other animal, we have nutrients that we require that are essential to life, these being Energy, Protein, Minerals and Vitamins and Water. Energy is provided in the form of Carbohydrates, Fats and Proteins. The proportion of each of these in the horse’s feed should be carefully considered as they are each suited to a different job, ie whether you need slow or fast release protein.

Water and Hay / Haylage should always be readily available ad lib