Feeding Tips for First-Time Horse Owners

Are you a first-time horse owner seeking a brief, easy-to-read guide to feeding your new horse or pony? The Trainer’s Loft has got you covered. From general equine nutrition to the best feeding procedures, we explain how to guarantee that your horse meets its nutritional needs.

At The Trainer’s Loft, we love helping new horse owners on their journey, so we have streamlined the information on caring for your horse. This article introduces the fundamentals of equine nutrition and teaches you everything you need to know about feeding your horse.

Water – A Vital Nutrient for Your Horse

Providing clean water to your horse is essential for its health and well-being. The amount of water required can fluctuate depending on your horse’s workload, size, genetics, temperament, and weather. Your horse must have constant access to clean water in stalls and turnout.

Many horse owners use flat-back buckets in stables because they hang close to the wall and can hold around five gallons of water. However, they must be periodically refreshed with clean, fresh water. Use a heated or insulated bucket throughout the winter to avoid ice development and maintain water flow.

Stock tanks and water tubs are standard options for turnout scenarios. With a capacity of anywhere from 20 – 100 gallons, these tanks are not easily overturned and allow multiple horses to drink at once. However, it is essential to monitor the tank’s condition and the water’s quality, as it can rapidly become contaminated, especially if numerous horses use it.

Provide Enough Hay and Forage for Your Horse

After water, the majority of your horse’s diet should consist of hay or grass. A horse should eat 1.5% – 3% of its body weight in hay per day – roughly 12 – 15 pounds. Horses are grazing animals by nature, and their bodies are well adapted to eat forage throughout the day continuously.

Ideally, your horse should have access to hay at all times. As horses do not have a gallbladder to store bile, their stomachs are constantly secreting digestive acid, and need the constant intake of small amounts of forage so the acid does not start working on the lining of the stomach and intestines. Consider purchasing a slow feeder to allow your horse to graze throughout the day in order to minimize wastage and slow down intake. Slow feed hay nets come in different size holes, from 2” down to 1”, allowing you to select the one that meets your horse’s needs. Testing your hay for sugar content and mineral content will help you determine what mineral supplementation will be necessary for your situation.

High-quality hay or pasture with appropriate forage mineral balancing is sufficient nutrition for many pleasure and trail horses. Grain can be given if hay is insufficient, but a horse’s main source of calories should always be forage.

A horse’s digestive system is geared to utilize the nutrients in grassy stalks. Therefore, a horse should consume one and a half to three percent of its body weight daily in roughage.

The typical feeding habits of horses who spend most of their time in stalls and paddocks can be satisfied by placing hay in front of them for most of the day. This way, they nibble on it for a while, take a break and nap, and then return to it, maintaining a steady flow of roughage through their digestive systems.

Vitamin/Mineral Supplement for Your Horse

Hay is deficient in numerous vitamins and minerals. Several vitamins, such as Vitamin A and E, oxidize when hay is stored, rendering them ineffective for horses. In addition, several regions of the United States are deficient in certain minerals, such as the Pacific Northwest, the Great Lakes, and the Eastern United States.

To mitigate this issue, test your hay, and provide your horse with a vitamin or mineral supplement, such as Vermont Blend, to replace the nutritional inadequacies in the hay you feed. This will ensure optimal nutritional health.

Choose The Trainer’s Loft As Your Source For Your Horse Needs

The Trainer’s Loft is customer-oriented, making it the best place to seek insights on horse care. It is also the best place to source horse feeds, supplements, accessories, and equipment. Our highly competent staff can guide you accordingly regarding the best supplies to get for your horse. Contact us for any inquiries regarding horse care and horse supplies.


Image Credit: Richard Juilliart / Shutterstock