Grass-kept or stabled horses or ponies

The horse is primarily a HERBIVORE

In the wild or at grass, horses will graze for 16 hours a day, and will rest for approximately 8-hour periods.

Total gastrointestinal transit takes approximately 36 hours (stomach, small intestine and large intestine) for forage and balanced feeds.

Gastrointestinal transit in the large intestine takes approximately 30 to 34 hours, including 5 hours in the caecum.

It is essential to give your horse forage since microbial digestion is optimised by the presence of cellulose in forage fibre.

  • Stabled horses, on wheat straw bedding, require at least 5 to 6 kg of meadow hay; horses on artificial bedding (shavings, peat, flax, etc.) require 7 to 8 kg of meadow hay daily.
  • At grass: rations should be adapted according to season, weather and the quantity and quality of grazing, while managing available grass land as effectively as possible. Ensure that horses are not turned out in paddocks with high clover nitrogen (protein) content. The ideal situation would be flora comprising 2/3 ryegrass and 1/3 white clover.

Droppings are an excellent indicator of digestion; soft, dark-coloured, foul-smelling droppings are a sign that the feed ration has an excessive overall protein content.

Access to grazing should then be restricted during the day and/or feed quantities should be reduced so as to avoid digestion disorders such as colic.