What Do You Feed a Horse?

QUESTION: Can you explain to me how a horse is fed, what it is fed etc.

ANSWER: Horses are foragers if left in the wild, meaning they are sustained off of grass. The domestic horse, however, has a much more balanced diet, as a rule. Horses in barns are cared for differently than horses left in pasture 24 hours a day. Stabled horses, for example, are likely to have grain twice a day, while a pasture horse may exist similar to his wild counterpart, on grass and hay.

Grain includes oats, corn, barley, milo, soybean, wheat, or combinations of one or more. Additives may be included as well, such as bran, vitamins, minerals, molasses (to keep the mixture from being too dry), etc. Sometimes people mix vitamin and mineral pellets with the grain as additives. Balance is the key.

Hay ranges from alfalfa to brome to "ditch hay" (long grass cut and baled for hay). Alfalfa is usually a good addition to a diet. Some horses do better on brome.

Horses need water at all times. Exercise is important as well.

That's a high level look at feeding. For more information on diet and care, check out THE COMPLETE BOOK OF HORSE CARE, by Tim Hawcroft (see Resources).


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