As horse owners, we spend a great deal of time, care and attention on making sure our horses are happy and healthy. Of all the care we give our horses, most of our time is spent worrying about their diets. As a matter of fact, it is the number one concern for many new horse owners. Luckily, experts have help simplify the process.
Veterinarians and horse nutritionists agree that there are some essential areas which make up a horse’s nutrition. Some of these are:
Water is the most important aspect of a horse’s nutrition. It controls every system in its body. Without enough water, a horse can quickly become dehydrated and suffer serious and devastating conditions. It needs enough water to correspond with its level of physical activity.
The next important aspect of a horse’s diet is protein. Protein is essential for strong muscle growth as well as many other bodily functions. It can found in nearly every food substance from grass to dandelions. Most horse owners provide protein for their equines through vegetables, such as alfalfa in its second or third cutting.
Carbohydrates are the basic energy units that can be found the majority of horse feed. They provide ready and quick energy. If your horse is lucky enough to graze all day on its own, it can eat all the necessary carbohydrates it requires. However, if this isn’t an option, a diet consisting of grain such as corn, oats, or barley will be sufficient.
Most fats are not found in large amounts in the natural diet of a horse. On top of that they usually don’t hold much nutritional value. A small amount of fat can is sometimes added to the feed if the feed is not dense enough with energy. Experts recommend feeding only a limited quantity of fat to prevent diseases like colic or gastrointestinal distress.
Since modern horses are given feed instead of their natural foraged diet, their diets have a tendency to lack essential vitamins. Horse owners care a lot about their animals so they make attempts to take their horses out to forage once and awhile but often this isn’t enough. This problem can be remedied through horse supplements.
High grain diets do not likely have enough vitamins to meet a horse’s dietary needs. This is especially true for a horse under stress or with a heavy workload. A veterinarian can give you advice on what kind of vitamins to give your horse and how much.
Ted Stinson is a horse enthusiast who writes various articles on horses and the best methods of caring for a horse. Many of his topics include subjects ranging from the best riding boots to use to what type of horse supplements work best.