You may not know this, but horses are trickle feeders. They eat slowly and methodically. They eat all of the time, and should not be left without something to eat – forage – grass or hay/haylage for more than 8 hours.
Horses’ bodies don’t allow for any massive influx of feed – like we humans can cope with, they cannot deal with massive meals of rich food. With their traditional method of eating being berries and leaves, from when they roamed around the forest back in time – their bodies have not adapted for the rich foods we give them now.
To support this, there is proof in the pudding of some food management issues – colic, coughing, ‘runny poo’ and eroding teeth.
Another fact to support this, one of the 10 rules of feeding says to feed horses to their condition, ability and physique. Don’t feed a race horse something that would be good for ulcers, if they don’t have ulcers… a bit like paracetamol for us – when we are not in pain.
Similarly, one should change their horse’s diet slowly, if you need to change each item of their meal, change one thing at a time, rather than everything straight away. That said, make sure you reduce quantities slowly to allow the body to deal with the feed concentrates change.
Another result of feed management issues is laminitis. This is caused by not being able to break down the starch in grass – as grass isn’t the food originally designed for them… but this another blog post!
Horses should have food 24 hours a day, that said, horses don’t necessarily eat all of the time. But food should be available 24/7. Poor management = poor horse welfare!
What do you wish you could graze on all day long?
I’m definitely chocolate and freshly toasted toast with melted butter. Together also works for me too!