Every horse is different and every horse comes from and lives in different circumstances. There is no hard and fast rule as to what a horse owner should feed their animal, but rather a horse owner must examine what that particular horse needs to have in its diet. This can be a tricky task, but with the help of a veterinarian and a little knowledge, a new horse owner will soon learn the ropes.
Equine nutritionists generally break down a horse's nutrition into six essential areas:
Water should be your very first concern when thinking about your horse's nutrition. Water regulates every system in a horse's body and without water or if the water has dangerous ingredients in it, a horse can become dehydrated and experience serious and debilitating conditions. A horse will need to take enough water to match its activities level. A working horse and a horse kept for leisure will have different water intake requirement. Horses sweat like humans do, and this loss in water must be replaced accordingly.
This nutrient is found in every food substance that grows on earth from cattle to dandelions. Even though humans generally associate protein with meat or dairy, a horse will get its protein from vegetable sources. Alfalfa is usually a good source of protein, especially in its second or third cutting.
Protein is necessary for muscle growth among other functions and it is especially important that a young horse be given enough protein so its growth can continue unhindered. A great sign that a horse might not be getting enough protein is the development of a rough coat of hair.
This nutrient is the basic energy unit that you will find in most forms of horse feed. Carbohydrates are easily digestible and provide ready and quick energy. A horse left to graze all day will consume all its necessary carbohydrates, but since most horses do not have this luxury, they must be fed a grain such as corn, oats, or barley.
It is vital to control the amount of carbohydrates in a horse's diet. Giving a horse a sudden burst of carbohydrates such as sugar could cause a fashion jackets online form of colic.
While most fats are not present in large quantities in a horse's natural diet, they do have nutritional value. Additional fat can be added to your horse diet if the feed does not provide enough energy. Fat should be given only in limited quantities however to prevent disease and obesity. A horse's body has simply not developed to handle a large amount of fat, so a horse owner must be careful when adding it to avoid colic or gastrointestinal distress in their animal.
Because we feed horses foods other than their natural foraged diet, their feed will lack certain essential vitamins. Most horse owners love their horses so much and would not bear to see their quality if life suffer as a result of insufficient vitamins and minerals intake.
One of the ways to find out if your horse is having the required vitamins is to examine the food it consumes. Diets with plenty of grains tend to have lesser vitamin nutritional value. Horses on this diet, especially horses under stress are encourage to take more vitamin supplement. Your veterinarian can help you decide exactly what kind of vitamins and supplements to give your horse.
Minerals are necessary for the correct growth and regeneration of many parts of the body. These minerals are often present in forage, but again may be lacking in a high-grain diet. A horse on a diet that is low on minerals may not show obvious signs, however it may affect its health over time.