How to Feed Different Horse Breeds
Feeding horses can be a tricky task. Even more so because of how much different horse breeds can vary. They all have similar nutritional requirements and the basics for feeding are largely similar, but there are some differences between breeds that are important to note.
Understanding the Basics
No matter what breed of horse you have, it’s important to first understand the basics of feeding. Feed is typically determined by weight. Usually you will feed between 1.5 and 2.5 percent of your horse’s weight every day. If you feed twice a day, that’s 7 to 13 pounds at each feeding, assuming an average horse weight of 1,000 pounds. This may need to be adjusted up or down depending on your horse’s activity levels, so check weight and body condition regularly and adjust feed as needed.
Beyond the Basics: Horse Breeds and Feed
While the basics still apply, there are some things which are helpful to know about different breeds. Here are a few tips for feeding today’s most popular horse breeds.
- Arabians: As a “hot-blooded breed,” Arabians are naturally spirited, energetic horses. Unless you have your horse in a very intense work program, you should avoid feeding Arabians high-energy feed, such as sugary grain or high-energy forage like straight alfalfa. Otherwise you may find yourself faced with more horse than you bargained for!
- Thoroughbreds: Although they can also be fairly hot, Thoroughbreds are also typically large, rangy horses which many owners have trouble keeping weight on. The key to feeding a Thoroughbred is adding plenty of bulk to their diet while avoiding a lot of sugar. Thoroughbreds that have trouble maintaining weight often do well on mix hay or you could use beet pulp to help add calories.
- Drafts: The heavier, slower “cold-blooded” breeds tend to be easy keepers, which means they put on weight easily. Sometimes too easily! Monitor diet and weight closely to make sure you’re feeding enough to support the horse’s activity levels but not so much that they put on weight.
- Ponies: The smaller breeds are well known as the Hoovers of the horse world, as ponies have voracious appetites and will eat up everything in sight. Keep in mind that ponies and smaller horses still need to be fed by weight, however, so you can’t feed them like they’re any other horse in your pasture. Limit feed appropriately while making sure they are still getting enough vitamins and minerals.
The Importance of Good Feed
While it’s true that the various horse breeds have different needs at feeding time, don’t feel like feeding has to be complicated. As long as you keep good notes about your horse’s current feeding regimen, and keep tabs on his weight and energy levels to determine if any changes need to be made, you’ll be fine.