Mistakes in horse feeding

Mistakes in horse feeding

Myth: Oats make horses crazy

It is often said that oats make horses overconfident and that it literally "stings" them. This statement has even become established in common parlance. For this reason, many horse owners avoid feeding oats and instead use other types of grain or oat-free products. In fact, oats are an excellent concentrated feed for horses. There are several reasons for this. Oats have a high fiber content, which encourages proper chewing and supports digestion. Oats can also be fed whole. However, the question remains when to feed oats. Leisure horses that are not constantly under heavy physical strain can cover the majority of their energy needs with hay or pasture grass. However, if additional energy is needed and concentrates are to be fed, oats are an excellent choice.

Misconception: Horses recognize poisonous plants and avoid them

This is partly true. Most poisonous plants taste bitter, and horses recognize this and therefore do not eat them. However, in extreme feed shortages this can change and horses can also eat foul-tasting, poisonous plants. Today, non-native exotic flowers and plants also pose a danger because horses are unfamiliar with them and can therefore eat them. The effects of poisonous plants in dried hay should also not be underestimated. Some plants, such as the autumn crocus, remain poisonous whether they are dried or not. Regular pasture inspection is therefore essential.

Myth: Horses overeat when given the opportunity

All living things instinctively strive to keep their energy balance in balance. This means that feed intake is also adjusted according to needs and the amount of feed available. In horses, various regulatory mechanisms are involved, which work very well with low-energy feed such as hay. However, if the food supply does not correspond to the type of food to which these regulatory mechanisms are adjusted, the horses consume too much energy and gain weight in the long term. This can be particularly observed in robust horse breeds such as ponies that are used to very low-energy feeding or come from areas where an abundant food supply in summer alternates with longer periods of hunger in winter. Therefore, the food supply for such horses must be limited to prevent excessive weight gain. It is therefore important to stock up as much as possible while food is available.

Misconception: Foals need a lot of concentrated feed so that they can grow as quickly as possible

Foals are in a growth phase and therefore require more energy and nutrients than adult horses. It is important to feed them appropriate concentrates and supplements. However, caution is advised: If too much feed is given, the foal will grow too quickly, which can lead to skeletal development problems. It is therefore important to carefully dose the foal's feeding and adapt it to the foal's individual needs to ensure healthy and consistent growth. A balanced diet, adapted to the age and stage of development of the foal, is the key to optimal development. It is important to overcome these common misconceptions about horse feeding and rely on sound knowledge and recommendations from veterinarians and professionals. Balanced and needs-based feeding is crucial for the health and well-being of horses.