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10 Rules of feeding.

Its been a few years sincei learned this at the very start of my equine journey.

I think its important to take time to ensure we still follow the basic training.

  1. Feed little and often.

Horses are grazers in the natural state they eat 14 to 20 hours of the day. To mimic this and so we don't overload their small stomach it is important to feed little and often. A horse should not go longer than 4 hours without food.

  1. Feed something succulent everyday

Carrots, apples, natural supplements such as spearmint and rosehips can be great to keep horses interested in their feed and add Vitamins and minerals.

  1. Changes to diet should be done gradually.

Humans constantly produce a range of enzymes though horses only produce the enzymes they need to break down the food they currently eat. Introducing new feeds gradually allows the horse time to produce the required enzymes

  1. Feed according to SWATT - size, weight, age, type of work and temperament.

The above things need taking into consideration when working out the type and amount of feed to give a horse.

  1. Feed only good quality food.

Horses are fussy eaters and have an strong sense of smell, they will leave tainted food also food that is past its best before or of poor quality will have a low nutritional value.

  1. Keep all utensils clean.

This helps to prevent contamination, where possible each horse should have their own bucket that is either clearly labelled or we on my yard each horse has their own colour, this isnt always possible so cleaning buckets after each use is essential.

  1. Avoid feeding straight before or straight after exercise

The horse's stomach is situated just behind the diaphragm and when full can press on the diaphragm. Also when exercise blood flow is directed to the muscles, so the digestive system won't work efficiently. Horses should be given an hour between feed and hard work and at least 30min between work and feed, it is important to ensure the horse heart rate and breathing has returned to normal before food is offered.

  1. Feed plenty of roughage

Fibre is the most important part of a horses diet as this is what boosts the digestive system to work.

  1. Do not water directly after feeding.

This is an outdated rule as horses are kept so different now and water is always on constant supply to the horse. However we should allow the horse to have a deep drink straight after feeding as it will wash the feed out of the stomach decreasing the nutrients the horse obtains from that feed.

  1. Feed in routine.

Horses are creatures of habit, they will start to produce enzymes in anticipation of feed if feed is not produced these enzymes can cause excess acid in the stomach resulting in ulcers. It can also cause colic.

The above covers the basic information of each Rule of Feeding we could go into so much more detail.

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