There are a lot of things that you can forget to do for your horse. You can forget to spray him with things that make his coat shiny. You can forget to paint his hooves with the latest preservative. You can be a couple of weeks late on giving him a dewormer, and he’ll never miss a beat. You cannot, however, forget to feed him (at least, not for long).
For some reason, it seems that many people want to try to make feeding a
horse maddening complicated. Don’t get me wrong – feeding a horse is very important. The thing is, horses are able to survive on a remarkably uncomplicated diet: not only survive, but thrive. It took humans to make feeding the horse more difficult than it generally needs to be.
Owning a horse is an emotional, as well as a financial, investment. It’s only natural that you’d want to take care of your good friend. Feeding is a time-honored way of expressing affection; have you ever gone away hungry from your grandmother’s house?
Still, using the grandmother analogy, there’s no one “best” way to feed your horse any more than there’s any one “best” meal that’s been confirmed by the grandmother’s union. Depending on the part of the world in which you live, your horse may be offered feeds that are quite different than those in, say, other parts. As such, it’s neither possible nor appropriate to recommend one “ideal” diet for any horse. There is clearly more than one way to skin…. a cat.
Feed is pretty predictable stuff. There are only so many things in feed, and all feed have them, in varying quantities. Thus, the secret to feeding a horse appropriately is to make use of the feeds that are available to you, keeping in mind what’s in them. There’s no real magic.
Think of a car. Every single car that you buy will get you from point “A” to point “B” (with any luck). You get to choose things like the color that you want, the model year, the style, etc., but they all need fuel. As long as you keep the car full of fuel, no matter where you buy it, chances are it will run pretty well. Ditto, horses.
Using the car example, most of the supplements and digestive aids that you’re going to be confronted with are the equine nutritional equivalent of car waxes and air fresheners. You may like polishing your car, or the sweet scent of a pine forest, but those things are for you, not your car. If you give your car what it needs (gas, oil, etc.), it will run just fine, and probably for a long time, unless you have a wreck. Horses are like that, too.
It’s a good thing to want to feed your horse properly. Your horse will undoubtedly perform at his best if you have him on a good plane of nutrition (and if you stop jerking on his mouth). But feeding a horse isn’t – or at least, shouldn’t be – complicated, as long as you keep good nutritional goals in mind, and you understand how to achieve them. In fact, the biggest difficulty in feeding a horse is often choosing between the various options. Hopefully, you can get some information here that will help you do just that.