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Basic Feeding of Your Horse

WATER

Most important is CLEAN water. Horses drink from 5 to 20 gallons of water a day.

HAY

A horse eats hay or pasture. If there is no pasture, feed a good quality hay. Feed 10 pounds morning and evening of green, sweet smelling hay (no mold). I feed a couple flakes of grass (timothy, fescue, etc.) plus half a flake of alfalfa twice a day.

Alfalfa is a legume that is more digestible and has twice the protein and more Vitamin A and other nutrients and 3 times the calcium of grass hay. But don't feed too much alfalfa.

A small bale of grass hay weighs 40 pounds. That means one bale will feed for two days. An 80 pound bale would feed for 4 days. Horses eat a lot of hay.

A big, hard working horse in cold weather can require twice as much feed as a small, idle horse in the summer. Pregnant and nursing mares, and young horses need more feed. If the horse is getting too fat or too skinny, give more or less food accordingly. Give small amounts of grain only if the horse needs it to keep it in good condition.

If you acquire an extremely skinny, sickly looking horse, call a vet. In the meantime, keep grass hay in front of it 24 hours a day until the horse starts looking better. Give small frequent feedings of recommended supplements from the feed store. If it has problems chewing, feed straight supplements recommended by the feed store - they contain the roughage that hay usually supplies.

Warning -- Do not feed your horse grass clippings from your lawn mower as they can cause blockage in the digestive track which can kill the horse. Also do not feed a large quantity of any unusual food like broccoli stems etc.

PASTURE

A horse can live on good quality pasture. I said GOOD pasture which is grass and a little clover with no weeds. Walk the pasture to see what is growing there. A pasture that is green from a distance is sometimes completely devoid of anything a horse can live on and sometimes totally covered with toxic weeds. Also a horse can eat itself to death in a field of alfalfa.

SALT

Have salt available free choice - salt block or loose salt. Ask for recommended salt/mineral combination at feed store.


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Good looking pasture with electric tape fencing. Horses in good condition. I remove halters from my horses.
I have heard of horses scratching themselves on a forked tree and accidentally getting caught and hanging themselves when halters are left on.

Pasture