During today’s Friday Facts, I would like to discuss nutrition in a general form and feeding treats!
Horses require food for two main purposes; to provide building materials for their bodies and to offer warmth and energy. What we introduce into their systems greatly effects their overall health. Having access to fresh water is essential to their well-being.
Horses have an incredibly small stomach. Their natural form of eating is to have a small amount of food in it at all times (accomplished naturally through grazing). Horses which are stabled require extreme attentiveness to their nutritional requirements, as hay replaces grass and dry concentrated feeds are added to improve consumption of vitamins, minerals, fats and proteins, as well address individual horse health needs. Concentrated feeds must be added gradually to eliminate causing issues such as colic, tying-up, laminitis or upsetting bacteria balances in the intestinal systems.
Typically, it is recommended that horses are fed at a ration of 2/3 hay to 1/3 concentrate, and diets are adjusted based on specific nutritional requirements and/or as recommended by a veterinarian or equine nutritionist.
There are a lot of options as far as treats go that we can safely feed our horse(s). The key is to MODERATE the amount. Remember, horse’s stomachs are small and designed for minute amounts at all times. Fruits and vegetables that are safe to feed are found all over the internet or can be suggested by a vet or equine nutritionist. WE mustn’t forget that they contain natural sugars, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals that we would be adding on top of any supplemental concentrates. Too much of a good thing, isn’t always good!
When feeding treats, it is also critical to remember, as horse’s are naturally inclined to have small amounts at all times, they will typically ALWAYS say yes to a treat! Learn your horse. Ensure pieces are offered in small amounts and small portion sizes. When buying commercially prepared treats, be sure to follow the recommendations and DO NOT overfeed.
Some horses will gobble up treats and chunks of fruits or vegetables and cause a condition called “Choke”. This can mostly be avoided through proper feeding practices and eliminating opportunities for your horse to eat too much, too fast! To keep your horse safe, stay informed and keep it small!