Feeding your horse properly is no easy feat. Finding the right mixture that supports a healthy weight, provides the right mix of nutrients and avoids health issues like ulcers and bad teeth requires some trial and error. Here's a brief overview of different types of feed so you can judge what best suits your animal's nutritional needs.
Grasses are the most natural feed option. They're a wild horse's feed of choice and contain more nutrients than hay. In addition, the silica in grass, which is absent in other feeds, is good for your horse's teeth.
"Many horses can survive on a diet of fresh pasture alone."
Most leisure horses can survive on a diet of fresh pasture alone, according to the University of Illinois. If your equine is young, lactating or training for sport, however, you may need to add supplements or other forms of feed. If your horse gains weight easily, limit access to pasture and increase exercise.
If you don't have access to enough pasture, use hay as a back-up. Hay varies wildly in term of quality, so you may need to add supplements to give your horse the nutrition it needs. Easy keepers can run into the same issues with hay that they do with grass. Instead of feeding these animals legume hays, switch to grass hay, which has fewer calories.
Grains – especially the modified kind that humans grow and process for our own consumption – are not natural to a horse's diet. According to The Spruce, the closest thing to grains that horses eat in the wild are the seed heads of grass.
Some grains, such as oats and corn, are okay for horses to eat. They can't survive on one type alone, however, so use a blend of different types. Keep in mind, however, that even a few extra pounds of grains can lead to weight gain, colic, founder or other issues. In addition, because grain is so easy to chew, horses don't get the dental health benefits they acquire from other types of feed.
These blends have a variety of ingredients such as grains, molasses, beet pulp and various nutrients. They're great for addressing nutritional needs not met by grass or hay, especially in performance horses.
In addition, adding daily supplements to your animal's feed helps boost its health and performance. Finish Line sells a variety of individual nutrients as well as mixtures, and our Total Control PLUS was crafted from six of our best-selling products to support multisystem health.