10 Secrets To Feeding Your Horse For Optimal Health And Performance

Feeding your horse is so much more than just a way to keep him healthy and strong. It’s also the most natural way to ensure that you’re a good steward of this precious creature, who has given so much to us humans over the years. 

So how do you make sure your horse gets everything he needs? By following these tips:

The Secret to a Healthy Horse: What I feed My Horse
Key Takeaways
1. Forage is the most critical component of a horse’s diet and should be available at all times.
2. Horses require regular veterinary check-ups to maintain their health and wellness.
3. Supplements can help optimize a horse’s performance and fill any nutritional gaps in the diet.
4. Senior horses have different dietary needs than younger horses, and it is essential to adjust their diets accordingly.
5. Maintaining a healthy weight is crucial for a horse’s overall health and wellbeing, and it is essential to provide a balanced diet that meets their energy and nutrient needs.

Healthy Feed

You should feed your horse a variety of hay and grasses. Hay is a staple for horses, providing them with essential nutrients like fiber and protein. However, there are many different types of hay available today that have different nutritional values and benefits for horses.

When choosing the best type of hay for your horse, consider what type of climate you live in–this will help determine which types of grasses grow best in that area (and therefore make up most of the local hays). 

Horses who live in warmer climates tend to benefit from eating more legume-based hays such as alfalfa or clover; however if you live somewhere colder where these legumes don’t grow well then consider supplementing their diet with non-legume based varieties such as mixed grasses or timothy/oat blends (which tend not only contain higher levels but also provide better quality protein).

Proper forage is a crucial part of a horse’s diet. “Horses require forage as the primary component of their diet, and they should have access to it at all times” to ensure their optimal health and performance. Check out this guide on The Importance of Proper Forage in a Horse’s Diet to learn more about forage and its importance in equine nutrition.

Feeding Frequency

The frequency of feeding your horse is a very important factor to consider, as it will determine how much food you need to buy and store. 

You should feed your horse at least once per day, but some horses require more frequent feedings. If you have an active or growing horse, then you may want to consider feeding him or her twice daily–one in the morning and one at night.

Your horse’s age can also affect how often he needs fed; older horses tend not only to eat less than younger ones do but also require fewer calories overall due to decreased activity levels (and sometimes illness). 

If possible, consult with your vet before altering your current feeding schedule because there might be other factors influencing his weight gain or loss that could impact his diet plan as well.

FactorsFeeding Frequency Recommendations
AgeFoals require more frequent feedings than adult horses.
Activity levelHorses in moderate to heavy workloads may require more frequent feedings.
Health issuesSome horses with health issues may require more frequent feedings.

As a general rule, horses should be fed at least once per day. However, some horses may require more frequent feedings based on their age, activity level, and health status. Foals, for example, should be fed more frequently to mimic their natural grazing behavior.

Horses that are in moderate to heavy workloads may benefit from two feedings per day to ensure they receive enough energy and nutrients to support their activity. If you’re looking for an automatic feeder, brands like Porta-Grazer and Horsemen’s Pride offer a convenient solution for feeding horses multiple times a day.


Forage is the foundation of your horse’s diet. A healthy horse will eat forage, which consists of grasses and legumes such as alfalfa, clover, timothy and Bermuda grasses.

 Forage makes up most of their natural food supply; it’s what they would eat in the wild if they were not domesticated animals.

Forage offers many nutritional benefits that are best for your horse:

  • High fiber content helps keep their digestive system moving smoothly by helping them digest food more efficiently and removing waste products from their bodies more quickly than other types of food would be able to do on their own (such as grain).
  • Low calorie count allows them to maintain a healthy weight without having too many calories packed into each serving size at once (which could cause obesity over time).

Regular veterinary check-ups are essential for maintaining a healthy horse. “Horses require regular check-ups to maintain their health and wellness, and prevent any potential health issues.” To learn more about the importance of regular veterinary check-ups, check out The Importance of Regular Vet Check-Ups for Horses.

Dental Health

Dental problems are one of the leading causes of illness in horses. Dental care is essential for your horse’s health, and it can prevent colic, respiratory problems and other serious illnesses.

Dental issues can be caused by bad feed (like too much grain), poor hygiene (such as not brushing teeth regularly) or an underlying illness such as liver or kidney disease.


  • Water is essential to life, but it’s also a major component of your horse’s weight. If you don’t provide your horse with enough water, he could develop dehydration and become ill or die.
  • How much water your horse needs depends on his age, size and activity level. You should always make sure that he has access to fresh water at all times–especially if it’s hot or humid outside!
  • If your pregnant mare drinks more than usual (which she probably will), make sure she has more access to fresh water as well so that she doesn’t become dehydrated from all her extra trips out into the pastures with her foal in tow
FactorsWater Recommendations
AgeFoals have higher water requirement than adult horses.
SizeLarger horses generally require more water than smaller horses.
Activity levelHorses in moderate to heavy work require more water than horses with lighter workloads.
TemperatureHorses require more water on hot and humid days.
Special conditionsPregnant mares, lactating mares, and horses with health issues require more water.

How much water your horse needs can vary based on these factors. As a general rule, horses should have access to at least 5-10 gallons of fresh water per day, but some horses may need more depending on their individual requirements.

It’s essential to monitor your horse’s water intake and provide fresh water at all times. An automatic waterer, such as those offered by brands like Ritchie, can be a convenient solution for ensuring your horse always has access to fresh water.

Value Of Vitamins And Minerals

In this article, we’ll talk about the value of vitamins and minerals in your horse’s diet.

Vitamins are essential nutrients that help your horse grow, develop, and function. Minerals are also important for health because they help make energy and build strong bones, teeth, muscles, and skin.

Maintaining a healthy weight in horses is essential for their overall health and wellbeing. “Overweight horses are at risk for various medical conditions and injuries, while underweight horses may suffer from malnutrition and decreased performance.” Check out The Best Feeds for Keeping Your Horse at a Healthy Weight to learn about the best types of feed to promote a healthy weight in horses

Bad Feed Is Worse Than No Feed At All

Let’s get one thing straight: bad feed is worse than no feed at all. Feeding your horse a poor-quality diet can lead to all kinds of problems, including colic, laminitis and metabolic issues.

The first step toward ensuring your horse gets the best nutrition possible is knowing what kind of feed you should be feeding him–and how much. Here are some tips for determining whether your horse’s diet is balanced and healthy:

If his coat looks dull or dry rather than shiny and thick, it might mean that he isn’t getting enough protein (which helps promote hair growth). 

As a horse owner, it is important to know about the various supplements available for your equine friend. “Supplements can help improve the overall health of a horse, optimize its performance, and fill any nutritional gaps in the diet.” Check out The Top 15 Supplements Every Horse Owner Should Know About to learn more.


Parasites are a common problem in horses. They can cause digestive problems, weight loss and poor performance. Parasite control is important for your horse’s overall health and well-being, as well as the safety of you and other people who come into contact with him/her.

Parasite control is a year-round activity; however if you do not know what type of parasites your horse has it may be wise to treat him/her at least twice a year (spring/summer and fall/winter).

Lots of Exercise

You may have heard that horses need lots of exercise, but what does that mean? The amount of exercise your horse needs depends on their age and health. As a general rule, here are some guidelines:

  • Young horses need more physical activity than older horses because they’re still growing.
  • Horses with weight issues or other health problems may require less exercise than their healthy counterparts (but always talk to your vet first!).

If you’re unsure whether your horse is getting enough physical activity, look for these signs:

Exercise Guidelines for Horses

AgeExercise Recommendations
Young horsesRequire more exercise than older horses because they’re still growing.
Adult horsesBenefit from regular exercise routines, such as daily turnout, longeing, or riding.
Senior horsesRequire exercise that is appropriate for their age and physical condition, which may include light riding or hand-walking.
Overweight horsesMay need to start with light exercise, such as hand-walking, and gradually increase their activity level.
Horses with health issuesShould always consult with a vet before starting an exercise program. Some may require less exercise than their healthy counterparts.

It’s important to note that the specific exercise recommendations for each horse may vary based on their age, physical condition, and any underlying health issues. Always consult with a veterinarian before starting a new exercise routine for your horse.

Your Horse’s Teeth Determine His Digestion and Health

Your horse’s teeth are the first line of defense against the many challenges he faces each day. They determine how well his digestive system can break down food, and therefore, how much nutrition he is able to get from it. 

The health of your horse’s mouth is directly related to his overall health–in fact, studies have shown that horses with poor dental conditions are more likely to suffer from colic than those with healthy mouths!

To ensure that your horse has a healthy mouth and digestive system:

  • Feed him a balanced diet that contains essential nutrients such as calcium, phosphorus and protein;
  • Brush his teeth regularly (at least once per week);
  • Take him to see a veterinarian if he shows signs of lameness or discomfort while eating;

Feeding a senior horse can be challenging, but it doesn’t have to be. “Senior horses have different dietary needs than younger horses, and it is important to adjust their diets accordingly.” Check out The Ultimate Guide to Feeding Your Senior Horse for expert tips on how to keep your senior horse healthy and happy


In conclusion, it’s important to remember that there is no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to feeding your horse. 

You need to find what works best for him, taking into account all the factors mentioned above (age, weight and level of work). Once you do find something that works for both of you (and this could take some time), stick with it!

Further Reading

For more information on feeding horses, check out the following resources:

Spillers Horse Feeding Advice: A comprehensive guide to feeding horses based on their ideal body condition score, age, and activity level.

10 Rules of Feeding Your Horse and Why: A blog post on the ten fundamental rules of feeding horses, and why they are essential for your horse’s health and wellbeing.

Seven Rules to Make Feeding Your Horse Simple: A simple and practical guide to feeding horses with seven easy-to-follow rules.


What are the most important factors to consider when feeding horses?

The most important factors to consider when feeding horses include their body condition score, age, activity level, and dental health. It is also essential to have access to good quality forage and to ensure that the horse’s diet is balanced in terms of energy, protein, and essential nutrients.

What are some common mistakes to avoid when feeding horses?

Common mistakes when feeding horses include overfeeding, feeding the wrong types of feed, not providing enough high-quality forage, and not adjusting the diet according to the horse’s changing needs. It is also essential to avoid feeding moldy or spoiled feed and to ensure that the horse always has access to clean water.

How often should horses be fed?

Horses should have access to forage at all times, and their diets should be divided into several small meals throughout the day. An average-sized horse should have at least two meals a day, while older horses or horses with digestive issues may require more frequent, smaller meals.

Can horses have treats, and if so, what are the best types of treats to give them?

Horses can have treats, but they should be given in moderation as part of a balanced diet. Apples, carrots, and small pieces of hay are healthy and safe treats for horses. It is important to avoid giving horses sweet treats that contain high levels of sugar or artificial ingredients.

How can I tell if my horse is getting enough nutrients?

You can tell if your horse is getting enough nutrients by monitoring their body condition score, energy levels, and overall health. You can also consult with a veterinarian or equine nutritionist to determine if your horse’s diet is balanced and providing all the essential nutrients they need for optimal health and performance.