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If you are just feeding “a scoop,” you don’t really know how much your horse
is getting, and you may be shorting his needs. On the other hand, you don’t want
to overdo a formulated feed if it contains mostly grain; high levels of sugars and
starch have a limit as to how much can be digested before passing into the large
intestine and being fermented by bacteria. This can lead to colic or laminitis.
Generally speaking, a 1,000-pound horse should eat no more than 5 pounds of
grain per meal. If he needs more, divide it up into multiple smaller meals. Keep a
small feed scale at the barn and weigh out the rations for accuracy.
Forage (hay or pasture) should make up at least 50 percent of your horse’s diet
by weight. Consuming this high-fiber food will keep the digestive tract moving
along in healthy order and help prevent boredom and behavior problems.
As a general feeding guideline, most horses will consume about 2 percent of
their body weight per day in hay ( 20 pounds for an 1,000-pound horse). More
than that is likely to be trampled and wasted.
If your horse is an easy keeper and lives out on good pasture most of the time
or eats lots of very high-quality hay (“young,” soft, leafy hay is higher in nutrients
than mature, stemmy hay), he may not need grain to get enough calories.
For harder keepers that are extremely hot or nervous, you may prefer to boost
calories with a high-fat supplement. These are available in nugget, liquid, or pow- GIN