Like many equestrians, keeping my horse happy and healthy is always on the forefront of my mind. In addition to regular horse husbandry practices, proper grooming, and regular exercise, I follow the best feeding practices when caring for my horse.
Last winter when I noticed my mare beginning to lose weight, instead of panicking, I did some research and made changes to my feeding program. Within a few months, my favorite animal began to gain weight and increase muscle tone. This article will summarize what steps I took, and help others answer the question of how to feed your horse for weight gain.
Some grain companies tell you that your steed will put on weight if they eat their product. The truth is, many horses do not need to eat more than 1% of their body weight in grain each day, if any at all. When you give a horse excess grain, much of it gets digested in the small intestine. The rest of it spills over into the large intestine where microbes digest it rapidly, creating gases and acids. When this happens, horses are more prone to digestive ailments such as colic and ulcers. Keep your friend healthy and safe, by utilizing a diet that is high in forage and limits grain consumption.
Increase High-Quality Forage
My horse deserves only the best, and yours does, too! If your hooved friend needs to put on a little extra weight, many experts encourage feeding them high fiber hay for horses. Fiber is essential to a horse’s diet because it keeps the digestive system moving the way nature intended.
For optimal results, make sure the hay is free of dust and other foreign materials. Feeding your horse low-quality forage can cause serious issues for them down the line. If your horse eats hay with other particles in it, they could experience respiratory problems. That’s why I only purchase top-of-the-line hay from Lucerne Farms. When I purchase Lucerne Farms forage, I know my horse is eating the best forage available.
Change of Schedule
Horses are grazing animals; they are not designed to eat like humans. A horse’s stomach is relatively small compared to the size of its body. Because it’s so tiny, full-grown mares, stallions, and geldings must continuously eat forage throughout the day to maximize digestive health and maintain a healthy weight. Try feeding your horse additional meals of high-quality forage if you notice they’re on the skinny side.
Another side note for horse owners is to check your horse’s or pony’s teeth regularly. Perhaps one reason they’re losing weight is that it’s painful for them to eat.