If you have a working horse such as a show horse, rodeo horse or cowpony, you need to feed a high protein feed and a high quality supplement. A working horse needs quite a bit of care, and it can be very expensive. If you have a horse as a backyard pet or just to ride for pleasure occasionally, feeding requirements will not be quite so demanding. In this article, we will discuss feeding requirements of a pet or light use pleasure horse or other equine. Read on to learn more.
If you are planning to have a horse, donkey or mule just for fun, you need to be sure you have plenty of space for it. The term “back yard horse” is a misnomer. No horse should be kept in a back yard unless your back yard happens to be at least three acres. Horses need to forage, and unless you want to spend a fortune on feed, you should have a minimum of three acres per horse planted in a good mix of grasses.
It is not necessary to have your pasture planted in Bermuda grass and heavily fertilized. In fact, it’s better to have a mix of native and natural grasses because this will provide the right nutrients and immune support for your area.
A mono-crop of super-nutrient grass is actually far too rich for most horses, and it is especially rich for mules and donkeys. Horses, donkeys and mules need constant forage to support good digestive function. They are browsers who need to graze in order to keep a steady supply of fiber moving through the digestive system.
If you are not able to provide ample pasture, you should keep a good mixed hay available at all times. Feed this using a hay net so that your horse, donkey or mule cannot just gobble it up all at once. The hay net will help you provide a more natural grazing-type experience for your equine.
A working horse will need a high performance feed; however, a pet horse or horse for leisure riding will do better on a feed that is higher in fiber and lower in protein. Look for a complete feed that provides a good balance of nutrients and does not contain sugar or molasses as this is completely unnecessary and unnatural for horses.
While sweet feed, such as horse and mule feed, has been a mainstay for equines for many decades, these days it has fallen out of favor. Just as eating sweet foods can cause humans to develop type 2 diabetes, eating foods that are too sweet or too high in protein can cause horses to have metabolic problems. It is far better to focus on providing nutrition and fiber and to stay away from sweet feeds.
Some horses, donkeys and mules are very sensitive to sugar, so you even need to be careful about feeding treats. Be sure to read the ingredients on any commercial treats you purchase, and don’t overdo it with treats such as apples and carrots. One carrot or apple per day should be plenty.
There is far more to taking care of a horse, donkey or mule than is possible to cover in this brief article. If you do not experience caring for an equine, you are strongly advised to do a good deal of studying and gain some experience by volunteering at a rescue or working at a stable to prepare yourself before taking on this responsibility.