Pipi was her name and she was always in excellent condition because with her close cropped teeth she could eat more grass and also forage in the blackberry and all the nooks and crannies where the bigger horses couldn't get to.
So apart from the daily treats I used to give her, she lived mostly on the abundant grass that was available to her. However as it got into the colder months, I would start supplementing her diet with hay, chaff and grains for fibre and cereal's and nut mixtures, to boost her energy.
However my dad's horse was different. He had a clysdale crossed with an Arabian and because of it's large size and the hard work it normally had to do, we had to supplement it's feed much more often. Even through the warmer months.
I've learned that each horse or pony is different and its diet must cater for its size and work rate. A non working pony would only need a fraction of the feed compared to a working horse.
They can remain healthy on a maintenance diet of hay and grass. Obviously a stable kept horse or pony, would need more supplements than one roaming free in the outdoors.
Harder working horses, like jumping or riding horses need two types of food, bulk which is hay or grass and concentrates which produce energy. This must be fed in ratio to the amount of energy used. Obviously trotting or race horses, would need heaps more.
I have learned that proper pony and horse feed must consist of:
Another thing that is very important, is not to give your pony large meals. Smaller portions, but more often, is much better. Too large a feed will over fill their stomachs and trap the food in the intestinal tract. This will give them indigestion and may even cause colic.
If you have a foal then a good idea is to teach them how to feed before weaning. I used to give my pony "Pipi" and her foal milk powder, mixed in their food.
Horses and ponies were evolved to eat grass and hay. However there are many other supplements than can be added to their diet to improve the animals overall health, or to just give them a treat.
Unlike the wild horses whose diet mainly consists of low quality grasses, tussock, shrubs and trees, unless of coarse they break into a farmers paddock. Domesticated horses can live on more nutritious grass and hay most of the year.
However each horse or pony is different, so its diet must cater for its particular needs and the different breeds. The ideal diet must provide:
Feeding them more often rather than over feeding, is essential.
Where as a non working pony or horse can remain healthy on a maintenance diet of good quality grass and hay. Working ponies and horses need bulk and energy producing foods. These concentrates should be fed in proportion to how much energy they expend.
Remember, horses have small stomachs and very prone to indigestion, so its important not to go riding for at least an hour after giving them their snack.
I hope this may help with your pony or horse feed program. I'm sure there are more diet tips for our equine friends available out there.
Why not share yours?