Feeding Arabian Horses

Arabian horses can be wonderful horses to own and ride. They are intelligent horses that develop strong relationships with their people. But there are also a lot of myths about these horses, many of which center around their energy levels, and consequently, how to feed them.

To help you separate fact from fiction, here are a few guidelines for feeding Arabian horses.

Basic Needs

While Arabian horses have a reputation for being “hot,” especially when fed too much sugar, in truth their basic needs are very much like any other horse. Typically, they should be fed one and a half to two percent of their body weight in forage per day. Excess calories will cause weight gain and make them overly energetic, especially when those excess calories come in the form of sugary feeds such as grain and sweet feed.

You’ll also want to make sure your horse gets enough protein. Most adult horses need 10-12 percent of their diet to be protein, with more heavily worked horses being around the higher end of that range. Grass hay can vary widely in how much protein it has, so testing may be necessary. Extra protein can be added to the diet with alfalfa or mix hay, supplements, or a complete feed with a guaranteed protein content.

Finally, fat is an important source of calories for horses that shouldn’t be overlooked. Many owners of athletic, hard-working horses such as Arabians find that adding fat to the diet is an excellent way to add calories without making the horse “hot.”

Endurance Horses

Arabian horses are a popular choice for disciplines that require a lot of athleticism from the horse. A perfect example of this is endurance, a sport where Arabians are often chosen over other breeds. Arabians were bred for their endurance in desert races, and are as strong as they are light and quick, making them perfect for modern endurance races.

Horses in sports such as endurance burn a lot of calories on a regular basis, however, so keeping them from dropping too much weight can be challenging. Protein and fat should be increased in any horse in a heavy work program. Endurance horses should be fed around 12 percent protein or a little more, and may need some additional fat, too, often in the form of oil added to their feed.

Metabolic Diseases

There are a lot of myths about feeding Arabian horses. Some folk wisdom claims that Arabians can’t have straight alfalfa, for instance, and others claim that any sugar whatsoever will make Arabians hot. In truth, Arabians tend to be prone to metabolic diseases. This is partly because of genetic predisposition, and partly because they just live longer than other breeds, making them more susceptible to metabolic diseases that become more common with age.

For instance, Arabians tend to be more prone to diseases such as Cushings disease and insulin resistance. Horses with these conditions are typically much more sensitive to sugar than other horses, and too much sugar can actually cause a painful inflammation of the inner parts of the foot, known as laminitis. For this reason, many experts recommend limiting Arabian horses’ sugar consumption, especially as they get older.

Ask the Experts

On the whole, feeding Arabian horses is much like feeding other horses, although as we’ve seen there are some special dietary considerations to keep in mind, especially as they age. Whether your Arabian is young or old, in light work or heavy work, healthy or in need of a special diet, our pelleted feeds take the guesswork out of feeding. For more information, contact Sacate Pellet Mills today.