Feeding your horse during lockdown
Feeding & reduced exercise
Here at Lingfield courses, we know that this can be a difficult time for everyone – especially those who have limited grazing or turnout facilities. Turnout time gives the horse time and opportunity to exercise his body and brain.
It is normal for most leisure horses to be fed a bucket feed which provides some energy for when they are ridden.
For many reasons, during this period of lockdown many horses are getting limited turnout and /or no ridden exercise. Even if they are being turned out regularly for a few hours or all day and night during lockdown, their usual feeding regime must be changed simply because of the limited or no ridden exercise time. If you are wondering if you are doing it right, Lingfield Feeding & Nutrition course has helpful advice and guidance on feeding – include it with the Intermediate Diploma programme to upskill your all round knowledge at the same time.
During this Covid 19 period, your feeding regime must change for the health of your horse and for your safety too.
- A horse which is being given bucket food which contains even a tiny amount of energy which he or she cannot use, is likely become silly to lead and possibly difficult to handle.
The excess energy you are providing has to come out somehow. It might be shown by the horse becoming bad tempered or busy in the stable or when grooming or tied up outside, or it could be shown by the horse being difficult to catch or to lead to and from the field.
We all know that horses can be unpredictable and accidents do happen. At times like this however, we should not be putting ourselves at risk of having even a small accident. Yet this is what can happen if your horse is being difficult, spooky, pushy or just plain silly.
Owners must therefore, reduce their horses’ energy feed if they are to keep their horses calm and sensible.
The British Equestrian Federation guidelines state: Assess your horse’s diet, and reduce energy intake according to the reduced levels of exercise you may be providing.
What should I do?
- Even if your horse normally does very little work and is not on much energy feed, you must try to keep him extra calm right now.
- Change the type of bucket feed you are providing.
- Give your horse a much lower energy level feed.
- If he or she is not being ridden at the moment you should consider feeding a maintenance diet or one for horses at rest.
- Check the DE levels of feeds to make sure what you choose is definitely lower in energy.
- If you need advice email our admin office firstname.lastname@example.org. We will try to help everyone – but please be patient, there might be a queue.
- You could learn more about feeding by taking a course
Introducing a new feed
- Introduce the new lower energy level feed slowly
- Remove a handful of the current feed and introduce just a handful of the new feed.
- Gradually increase the new feed amount and decrease the current feed amount over a 7 day period
- 7 – 10 days is better but you may need to do this quickly if your horse is being difficult.
If on the other hand, your horse is already on a low energy, high fibre feed yet is being a silly or pushy, you might need to consider reducing the amount of feed you are giving.
Even some of the low energy feeds have SOME energy giving qualities. It could be that your horse has his or her own natural energy and in the current situation, does not need even the really low energy/high fibre feed you are providing.
Reducing the low energy feed
- Over a period of 2-3 days, simply reduce the amount of feed you normally give and substitute it with a straight chaff feed
- However, now you need to be sure you are providing enough vitamins and minerals. In other words you must be sure you are feeding a balanced diet.
- To enable this, provide your horse with a good all round equine supplement which contains all the correct vitamins and minerals. There is an extensive article on how not to get taken in by supplements by a well known equine scientist David Marlin on his website
What is a balanced diet?
A balanced diet is one which includes enough vitamins, minerals, micro-nutrients and trace elements to keep the body in healthy condition.
Feeding a Balancer
- Alternatively – to provide a well-balanced diet, you could instead simply feed a ‘balancer’.
What is a balancer?
A balancer is a highly concentrated feed – usually in the form of compressed nuts. Because it is so concentrated, the quantities fed daily are small. A balancer includes all the vitamins and minerals required by the horse and it provides them in the correct amounts. A balancer is ideal for the leisure horse owner to use right now.
- It must be fed at the correct amount for the size and weight of the horse
- It must be fed according to amount of work or lifestyle he or she is living.
- The balancer will replace the feed you usually give.
- It could easily be the answer to your problems.