Horses possess very unique dietary needs because they are herbivores and have a specific digestive tract naturally different from ours.
This also means they can’t just gallop around eating whatever it is they say. Right? But how do we know what the healthiest foods for horses are?
Horses’ long digestive system needs a high-fiber diet that takes a long time to process. Unlike humans that eat a few large meals, horses consume many smaller meals.
If you paid close attention to horses, you’d discover that horses, in fact, spend most of their free time eating. Nonetheless, how do we know what the healthiest foods for horses are?
Below is a list of foods that would keep your horse healthy and a few things your horse should have access to.
Table of Contents
- Tender plants and pasture grass
- Minerals and salt
- Concentrate Mixes
- Plants toxic to horses
Some of us don’t have the opportunity of being able to allow our horses graze openly on pastures year-round, and since we don’t have consistent access to grass, hay is the best substitute.
The issue, however, is finding good hay for your horse. It’s best to have your hay tested so that if there are any shortfalls in nutrients, you can always compensate for with supplements. Some horses can have problems with rich feed, just as some can have issues with rich pasture grass.
Tender plants and pasture grass
The natural diet of horses is tender plants and pasture grass. Good pasture falls under the category of the healthiest foods for horses because it has the most nutrition that a horse needs to stay healthy. It also has silica, which, according to research, is very important for horses’ dental health.
Primitive horses can survive on sparse rations and often have to manage with less than ideal pasture and living conditions. This is likely why complications like equine, obesity, laminitis, and metabolic syndrome are rare in wild horses but frequently occur in our modern horses.
In truth, pasture grass isn’t readily tagged the problem, the types of horses that’s been developed, and the little or no exercise are. People with easy keepers would have to limit the amount of fresh grass their horses are exposed to.
This is majorly because a sudden introduction of lush pasture to horses that aren’t used to it can cause significant problems. Good pasture always provides nutrition and is one of the healthiest foods for horses.
One traditional grain fed to horses is oats. Nevertheless, other healthy grains like corn may also be given to horses. Bear in mind that grains such as wheat aren’t ideal for horses. In their natural environment, the closest thing wild horses would come to chewing grains is the seed head of grasses.
Harvested grains that have been processed are not enough to be labeled natural foods for your horses. Horses can easily be fed too many grains. Grains do not have the silica that grass does, which can lead to dental issues. Horses that are over-fed with too much grain ma founder or colic. This is why it’s best to maintain a proper amount of grains you’d be feeding your horse.
Minerals and salt
Another item on our list of the healthiest foods for horses is pure supplements. Supplements such as minerals and salt may be offered separately or simply included in a concentrate mix.
Loose salts or a salt block in a stall or pasture allows horses to help themselves when they have the need to. Some salts blocks are also produced and mixed with minerals.
Free-choice minerals are also an alternative, or it can be included in your horse’s concentrated meals or grains. It’s been discovered that salt is more consumed during the summer than when it’s cold.
Horses, like many other animals, love to be given treats. These tasty treats may include carrots, apples, sugar cubes, vegetables, candies, handfuls of grain, and sometimes horses won’t mind boiled eggs, amongst other things.
However, it isn’t advisable to feed meat to your horse. Also, too many sweet treats, which include fruits, might cause more harm than good.
Naturally, horses are herbivores, and even when horses don’t show visible signs of colic when they are fed meat, they may still feel discomfort. Odd foods like meat and too many sugary snacks or fruits could affect their intestinal flora.
We don’t expect horses to link the discomfort they are feeling now with the meaty snack they had earlier, so they keep eating what is given to them; over and over again. This is why it is critical to monitor what you feed your horse, and be sure it’s in small amounts.
Treats should be considered a part of your horse’s feeding regimen, and it should be kept to a minimum if your horse weight needs to be maintained.
These are usually a combination of things like flaxseeds, grains, bran, beet pulp, vitamins and minerals, molasses for energy and flavor, and other ingredients.
Commercial mixes may have many ingredients in them, while some feed mills may provide concentrates prepare to your specifications. This is practical when there are plenty of horses to feed.
Mixes such as grains, help to compensate for any nutritional shortfalls as it also replenishes energy. Nursing mates, mates in foal, working, or performance horses often benefit from being fed concentrate mixes in addition to hay and grass.
There is no way water can’t be included in horse’s dietary needs, even though it isn’t what they eat.
Water is no doubt an essential part of a horses diet. Horses, especially the ones on a hay only diet, needs plenty of water, and it is crucial that they have access to fresh and clean water.
Plants toxic to horses
Just as red meat and too much sugary foods aren’t healthy for horses, so are there some plants that may put the life of your horse at risk. Brans, including rice and wheat bran, are not recommended as a significant part of your horse’s diet. All can cause an imbalance in mineral.
So what do you think? Are there other foods you feed your horses to keep them healthy? What would you say are the healthiest foods for horses? Share your thoughts in the comments.