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Before you put hay in front of your horse, you should know how much he should eat. Generally, a full-grown horse should eat about 12-15 pounds of hay per day. T is is an average, and some horses will require more or less depending on their metabolism, workload, time of year and what else they may be eating. Photo by Lesley Ann Bryant

Have Your Hay Tested In most areas of North America, selenium is depleted from the soil and horses and humans

aren’t get ing enough of this mineral. Other imbalances in mineral and vitamin content are com- mon. However, if you don’t know exactly what your horse needs, you may be wasting your money on supplements that don’t make up for shortfalls or excesses. You may even worsen any nutrition- al imbalances. Most high quality hay that can maintain an adult horse may not contain enough protein for a growing horse or provide enough nutrition for a lactating mare. And making up for perceived nutritional shortfalls with grains might mean horses, especially those prone to laminitis and Equine Metabolic Syndrome, are get ing too many carbohydrates in their diet. T e easiest way to avoid these problems is to have your hay tested. Testing

isn’t expensive and by sampling many bales with a hay corer, from separate fi elds or areas in fi elds, it’s possible to get a more accurate picture of what your horses are eating. Contact your local agricultural extension offi ce to learn where you can get a corer and how to send hay to a lab.


Feed to Reduce Waste Before you put hay in front of your horses, you should know how much they should eat.

Generally, a full-grown horse should eat about 12-15 pounds of hay per day. T is is an average, and some horses will require more or less depending on their metabolism, workload, time of year and what else they may be eating. Ponies require considerably less, while large draſt breeds can eat 30 pounds a day or more. For the healthiest digestive system and the happiest horse, it is best to have hay available all the time. Some horses do well on a “serve yourself” plan, but some will need their hay diet restricted to prevent obesity. Hay feeders reduce waste. T ere are a multitude of innovative

new hay feeders on the market, and many plans are available to build your own. One study done by the University of Minnesota estimated that horse owners could save up to 50% of their hay, simply by using the very common tombstone style metal feed- ers rather than feeding on the ground. Slow feeders are ideal, creating a more natural grazing experience while preventing horses from over-eating and wasting hay. T unes says the most important thing you can do when choosing hay is to “Understand your


horse and his individual needs. Learn what type of hay he needs and make an investment, not based just on immediate costs, but on long-term requirements.” She suggests feeding in a way that is natural but doesn’t turn hay into expensive bedding or compost. She also suggests planning well ahead. “Don’t get desperate and buy your hay one bale at a time. If the type of hay you need isn’t available, get a group together and buy a large load of hay, have it shipped and divide it up.” Feeding your horse right is one of the biggest responsibilities we have as horse owners. Buy

the best, look creatively at storage options and know that your hay is an important investment in your horse’s good health.


Slow feeders are a great way to reduce waste and enhance your horse’s health when feeding hay. You can choose from a multitude of innovative hay feeders on the market, or check out plans online to build your own. Photo by Bobbie Jo Weber

Katherine Blocksdorf is a horsewoman and writer based in Ontario, Canada. She has been riding since before she was born and has experience in the show

ring as well as long-distance riding. Her edu- cation in horse care and riding continues with each horse she meets and each lesson she takes. Visit her blog at

Cashel Company, p.9 JT International Dist., p2 Priefert Mfg., p.55 T e Natural Feeder, p.24 Weaver Leather, p.27


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