Feeding the Horse

Horses should be fed according to work requirements and body condition. Most idle horses should be fed a limited amount of hay or pasture and do not need any grain in their daily ration. Weight gain should be monitored by sight, body condition scoring, equine scales, or a weight tape place around the horse’s girth.

When horses are allowed to eat too much, they enter into an anabolic state of metabolism and store fat. When they are burning more calories than they are fed, they are in a catabolic state. When the delicate balance is upset, the horse is at risk for laminitis.

When feeds are deficient in essential nutrients, horses cannot perform at optimum capacity. Hay that has been cured improperly or stored for a long period of time may be missing essential nutrients needed for normal metabolism and tissue growth.

Since modern horses are often overfed and do very little, if any, work, their situation could be compared to a person with a desk job eating like a professional athlete in training. The result will be fat storage and increased risk of metabolic diseases. For the horse, the metabolic disease could lead to laminitis.

J. Frank Gravlee, DVM, MS, CNS
Founder of Life Data Labs, Inc.
Developer of Farrier’s Formula®