The Equerry Horse Feeds Nutrition Team answer…
There is a massive choice of what to feed horses which leaves many horse owners in a quandary about what to feed to keep their horse in good condition and in an ideal weight all year-round.
So what is the ideal weight for your horse or pony? That depends! It depends what you are asking that horse to do – a horse’s ideal weight for racing would be much lighter than that if he was doing RC activities perhaps including showing. But both should be fit enough to do their job comfortably and in good condition with a healthy shiny coat.
The first step is to consider a suitable forage, feeding good-quality hay or haylage is important as this makes up the majority of the diet for most horses today. Forage should normally be fed ad-lib, meaning that your horse still has some left in the morning. There are many ways to slow the rate of intake including trickle-nets which are very useful for good-doers.
The second step is to make sure that your horse has had an MOT! Teeth should be checked at least once a year, together with appropriate worming and flu/tetanus boosters are basic things your vet will be happy to advise on to keep your horse fit and healthy.
The third step is to assess how much feed, and how much energy from the feed that your horse will require. If your horse is carrying enough weight i.e. his calorie (energy) requirements are predominantly met by his grazing and forage, Equerry High Fibre Cubes will be ideal. These cubes are ‘Non-Heating’ and will provide all his basic vitamins and minerals for rest/light work. It is important to feed any compound feed at the recommended rate to ensure that your horses daily requirements are met in order to keep him in good condition. If feeding less than the recommended levels you should add a vitamin and mineral supplement or a feed balancer to ensure a healthy balanced diet which will help to keep your horse in good condition.
Horses doing more work will need more calories (energy) to hold condition and provide the energy for work. Depending on the horse, the amount of work he is in, his temperament etc a ‘Non-Heating’, low starch product like Equerry Conditioning Mash may be ideal or you might need a higher energy mix like Equerry Sports Mix.
Older horses often struggle in the winter when easy to chew grass is limited (especially for those stabled overnight). A forage replacer will be vital if your horse struggles to chew his hay or haylage.
Look out for chewed bits of forage that he has spat out (quidding) or a reduced intake both of which indicate feeding a forage replacer is necessary and a dental check is advised. Feeding a high calorie mix like Equerry Veteran Mix will help to provide plenty of calories to keep your horse in ideal weight, good quality to maintain muscle tone and high levels of yeast to support his digestive system.
For some horses their hard feed requirements will change considerably with the seasons as grass quality changes and levels of exercise change, so never hesitate to contact a feed company for some advice from a nutritionist to make sure your horse gets what he needs.