Feeding the Leisure Horse/Pony
Contrary to popular belief the energy requirements of a leisure horse or pony are not significantly higher than those at rest. Horses and ponies falling into this category are best served by providing a diet which combines high quality forage in the form of pasture, hay or haylage in conjunction with a moderate energy feed. The feed should contain high quality ingredients in the form of a combination of toasted/flaked cereals, oils and fibres along with a high quality trace minerals and vitamin specification. This type of balanced diet will ensure that a pony or horse in light work will get the nutrients it requires to maintain a healthy muscular and digestive system without becoming overweight or having excess energy which could lead to excitability.
Products specifically designed and manufactured for horses and ponies in light to moderate workload include Cool ‘N’ Easy Mix, Easy Go Cubes and Equestrian Cubes. These products contain Bioplex® trace minerals which are more bioavailable to the horse versus inorganic minerals. The GAIN products include Yea-sacc live yeast culture, which improves fibre digestion and helps to maintain a healthy pH in the caecum. If your horse or pony has a particular feed requirement, it is advisable to contact your feed supplier to find out what product best suits your horse. Good feeding practise means a healthy digestive system which in turn leads to a happy, healthy horse.
Good Feeding Practices
– Feed by status, age and function
– Feed according to weight – it is recommended that horses receive between 1.5-2% of body weight in dry matter per day
– Feed according to body condition
– Good quality roughage should be offered to the horse
– A balanced diet is essential
– Feed concentrates by weight, not by volume
– Try to split daily feeds into 2-3 meals
– Avoid abrupt dietary changes
– Ensure clean, fresh water is available at all times
– All horses should have access to salt
– Only feed high quality, clean feeds
– Do not feed too soon before or after exercise
– Keep an eye on teeth – essential for a healthy digestive system
– Operate a regular worming programme
If you have any queries regarding feeding, please do not hesitate to contact a member of the GAIN Equine Nutrition team.