Horses are natural grazers, they eat little and often. Their natural diet is mainly grass, which has high roughage content. Horses should be provided with a predominantly fiber-based diet, either grass, hay, or a hay replacement to mimic their natural feeding pattern as closely as possible.
Good quality grazing may be adequate for the intake of roughage and minerals. If grazing is inadequate, extra feeding may be required. Horses that are prone to laminitis may need their grazing restricted at certain times of the year. That’s why we see in the video that the horses need food 24/24 because when the dose of food has not been supplemented, he will look elsewhere. After all, horses must have continuous access to fresh clean water and should be provided with as much opportunity to graze as possible. Without it, they can develop disorders of the gut and stomach ulcers.
Many of us don’t have the luxury of being able to let our horses graze on pasture throughout the whole year. When grass isn’t available, hay is the next-best choice.
Finding good horse hay can be tricky. It helps to have hay tested so that any shortfalls in vitamins and minerals can be compensated for with supplements. For some horses, rich hay can be a problem in the same way rich pasture grass can be.
An average adult horse should eat dry matter (what remains after all of the water is evaporated out of a feed) weighing around 1.5–3 percent of its body weight. This depends on the horse’s activity and the quality of the food.
In terms of how much hay to feed a horse, at least half of their diet should be pasture grass or hay. If a horse is worked or ridden, then it will need more food during the day or it will become underweight. Do not work a horse immediately after feeding very large meals. This is uncomfortable for the horse and could affect its digestion.
Horses shouldn’t become overweight. Horses and particularly ponies who are overweight are prone to developing laminitis, a very painful disorder of the feet. A common factor triggering laminitis is feeding on lush spring and autumn grass.