Nowadays, horse nutrition has turned to science and one can easily be confused when it comes to choosing the best food for your equine friend.
There are variables that you need to be aware of in order to provide the best regime for your horse.
According to research conducted by NRC, the type of food and the quantity you give your horse will depend on its level of exercise/activity, its body weight and condition, its age and whether the horse is in a breeding situation. This research has provided invaluable results in this area and has demonstrated that a horse, especially one in work, requires nutrients to be able to develop, grow and thrive in its life. NRC provides a set of calculations to determine the amount of specific nutrients a horse needs. You can access the online (simplified) version here.
To this, I would like to add variables that are not always discussed or acknowledged. The horse’s size, its breed, its health and its sensitivity to feed.
All these variables are inter-related and you would not have the whole picture if you only took some of these into consideration and left out the rest.
Horse nutrition is complex and it takes experts to fully explain it. We are not equine nutritionists so we will not provide a lecture on this subject. Instead, we will present an example (to make it more interesting) that might help you in the process of determining your horse’s feed regime. This example is fictitious and is only provided as information. To be able to establish an exact feed program, we encourage you to contact a qualified equine nutritionist, especially for working, racing, or high level competing horses as well as breeding and special needs horses.
If there is only one book you can acquire, I suggest John Kohnke’s book “Feeding Horses in Australia” as this book will give you great information on the different feed types, required nutrients and help in formulating rations for Australian conditions. You can find the RIRDC free version here. A latest version with the same name is available at a cost and although they are similar, they tend to complement each other.