Horses grow a very effective winter coat which can be adjusted according to the temperature – little muscles can puff the coat up or smooth it down for more or less insulation. Horses also have an internal boiler to help keep them warm and this is the fermentation vat of the caecum and the large colon. Here, a vast army of microbes breaks down fibre from forage, producing fuel for the horse, B group vitamins, heat and a certain amount of gas. Read more
The natural diet of horses is grazing. Fresh forage is 70 – 80% water, so horses actually eat a lot of water. Even on very wet grazing, they still need to drink as well, as the food needs to be mixed with plenty of fluid to get through the small intestine’s 20 meters or so and numerous curves. In this part of the gut, the food (now called ingestate) is around 90% fluid. When a horse eats hay for instance, which is only 10 – 13% water, the horse has to chew a lot and this releases saliva which helps to add fluid to the mix. Water for the saliva comes from the blood, which in turn will draw on reserves in the large intestine, which needs to be replaced by drinking. Many horses dunk their hay in the water container, which is actually very sensible of them, albeit annoying for us as it will need cleaning out every day.
Dried, pelleted feeds are 10% water. Different feeds absorb different amounts of water – forages will take up 2.5 times their volume of water and beet pulp, 5 times. Straw is not very absorbent, taking up a lot less water and is one reason why it is not a favoured feed and has a reputation for causing impaction colic.
We always suggest pelleted feeds are offered soaked. This restores their natural hydration, increases bulk and slows eating rate. It aids digestion and can help reduce the chance of choke. Horses choke because they did not chew the food sufficiently. If a horse chokes, we need to look at what went wrong for the horse. Hungry and greedy horses may bolt their food and fail to chew it sufficiently. Young horses who are teething may fail to chew properly and horses with dental issues just cannot chew well. Even with good dental care, the teeth will start to let the horse down at some point from the late teens on and by the time they are 30 it is inevitable that the molars are worn out and will start to fall out if this hasn’t already happened.
We are accustomed to soaking beet pulp and rightly so. It is not difficult to soak feeds and enables very valuable and nutritious forage feeds to be offered safely to all horses, good chewers or not.
Soaked feeds are very palatable but need to be fresh. Feed within 12 hours of adding the water. Use an amount of water that suits your horse. Some love a soup, others prefer more of a crumble texture. You can use warm water to speed the process along and offering a warm feed is appreciated by many horses in the winter. Don’t let the requirement for soaking put you off feeding the very best forages to your horses. Read more
We have 3 bags of HayCare to give away to 3 lucky winners. Win a bag of HayCare by answering the question below.
HayCare is our quick-soaking hay replacer, ideal for horses and ponies unable to eat hay. HayCare is made from premium high fibre what?
1) Timothy Grass
2) Rye Grass
1. FollowSimple System Horse Feeds Facebook page.
2. Comment on the competition post answering the question.
Not on Facebook? No problem - send your answer to email@example.com
Competition closes at midnight on Tuesday 30th November 2021. Three winners will be picked at random.
Autumn is with us, even if it is a bit uncertain! Horses are now well into their winter coats, the grass is going off and whilst this is a good time to let the weather take weight off our fatties, some horses are not fatties and need extra feed now to ensure they are able to go through winter without getting positively poor. Older horses, thin skinned ones and growing youngsters can all come into this category. Read more
Fireworks can be a very stressful experience for horses. As Bonfire Night approaches, you can plan and take precautions to minimise the impact on your horse.
- Find out what firework displays are on in your area. If there are demonstrations close to your horses, contact the organisers and explain the situation. There may be measures they can take such as moving the display to the far end of the site. Find out what the timings are so you can manage your horse appropriately.
- Try to keep your horse in his or her normal routine. If you plan to change the routine for Bonfire Night, start doing it as early as possible so your horse gets used to the new routine.
- Make sure your horse has company and do a late-night check when fireworks have ended. Read more