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Year-round horse feeding & maintenance tips

Year-round horse feeding & maintenance tips

Horse owners know the feeling of seeing their companion all excited as they enter the yard with a bucket full of horse feed. Responsible horse owners feed their horse regularly and stay on top of their nutritional requirements all throughout the year. 

For the most precise nutritional advice, it’s always best to speak to a vet or equine nutritionist. Though, what we’re going to do in this article is give you some handy tips to keep your horse happy and healthy all year round.

Summer

As summer is the hottest part of the year, your efforts will centre around keeping your horse’s body heat in check. To do so, you will modify ensure your horse has enough water and is eating the right kind of food. Below, we’ve listed some horse feeding tips that will help you make sure your horse isn’t overheating. 

  1. Give your horse less concentrates and allow it to feed on more pasture. This will be easier for the horse to digest and thus will help keep its body heat down.
  2. Provide your horse with about 40 – 60 litres of water per day. To encourage drinking, make sure that the water isn’t too cold. 
  3. Add electrolytes to your horse’s water supply, to replace those that are lost through sweating during the hot summer swelter. 
  4. Unless you have one already, build a shelter for your horse and install a cooling system to keep your horse cool. Try combining large fans and mist for ultimate effectiveness.
  5. Make sure your horse isn’t gaining excess weight by ensuring that it gets plenty of exercise. The more fat your horse has, the more heat it will produce. Take your horse out for some exercise during the early and later hours of the day when the sun is at its weakest.
  6. Give your horse some extra bedding to separate it from the hot earth and thus keep its body temperature down. To do this, use deep wood shavings. 
  7. Flies will be naturally attracted to your horse’s sweat and manure, and will cause irritation to its body. Make sure you regularly get rid of the manure and install fans to keep sweat levels down and flies off.
  8. Make sure you apply sunscreen to your horse’s body whenever you take it out. They’re skin can burn from UV rays just like it can with humans. Ultimately though, unless you don’t have to, you should keep your horse in the shade until the weather cools down for the day.

Autumn

Autumn serves as a transitional period in preparation for winter. In terms of feeding and maintenance, most of what you do will remain the same. You’ll only be making minor adjustments to your horse’s feeding and maintenance regiment in preparation for winter. We’ve listed our autumn tips below.

  1. Make sure your horse continues to drink water. Usually, horse’s will be discouraged from drinking water due to the cooler weather. To make sure they stay hydrated, make sure the water you give them is lukewarm and not cold. 
  2. You want to think about getting your horse’s body temperature up due to the colder weather. Introduce some hay to its diet. This is harder for the horse to digest and break down, meaning it will produce more body heat trying to do so. 
  3. Continue monitoring your horse’s weight and body condition, so that your horse isn’t over or underweight at any stage. 

Winter

Winter requires a fine balancing act. You need to make sure your horse is getting all the right nutrients while you keep its body weight down. During winter, horses are more susceptible to gaining weight, as they exercise less and also have less access to fresh pasture. Thus, their diet will require they take in more vitamins, minerals and proteins. Below are our tips for winter.

  1. Give your horse additional rations of hay during winter. As it’s harder to digest, hay will cause your horse’s body temperature to go up. Also, it’s great for maintaining your horse’s weight.
  2. Supplement your horse’s diet with various feeds. Don’t use them instead of hay, but use them to complement your horse’s existing diet. Supplements will help greatly when it comes to maintaining your horse’s weight.
  3. Finally, ensure that your horse always has access to clean water. Additionally, make sure that the water is warm, so that your horse isn’t discouraged from drinking, thus reducing the chances of it suffering from dehydration.

Spring

Just like autumn, spring is a transitional period. Instead of getting ready for the cold winter though, you’ll be preparing your horse for a warm summer. Below, we’ve listed our spring feeding tips. The first step is to check on your horse’s condition. Then, you’ll be able to make informed decisions regarding its diet. You can read about our general tips for Spring below.

  1. Make sure your horse is eating plenty of grass. There should be plenty of it during Spring. This means you won’t need to feed your horse supplements as much.
  2. Supply your horse with plenty of fresh water, as during Spring it’s activity levels will go back up. 

Conclusion

The tips we’ve provided you with above should be a great place to start for feeding and maintaining your horse throughout the year. Remember to always speak to a vet or equine nutritionist when it comes to your horse’s diet, so that you’re making sure your horse is as happy and healthy as it can be.

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