Pony and Horse Feed Tips

Seeking pony and horse feed tips? I am creating this page to share the feeding techniques I have learned since owning my very first pony. She was a Shetland.

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:

  • Carbohydrates to provide for energy and warmth.
  • Protein for repairing the body and building strong bones.
  • Fats for providing heat and energy.
  • Fibre to help in the digestive process.
  • Vitamins and minerals for general health.
  • And of course, an abundance of fresh, clean drinking water.

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.

The feed can be placed in the stable manger or in a clean bucket and grooming can even be undertaken while they eat. Although some advise not to.

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:

  • Carbohydrates, for energy and warmth.
  • Protein to build and repair its body.
  • Fats for heat and energy.
  • Fibre to help digestion.
  • Vitamins and minerals for good health.
  • Plenty of water. At least 10 gallons a day.



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.

Meals can be put in the stable manger or otherwise a bucket will do and like your tack and grooming gear, keep all the feeding stuff, super clean.

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.

Horse Feed Tips:

  • Keep a salt block handy to replace minerals.
  • Rolled oats fed bruised has the highest nutrional value.
  • Flaked Barley also has high nutrional value and great for boosting energy and adding condition.
  • Dried sugar beet another great source of fibre (must be soaked).
  • Chaff, add some molasses in chopped straw for fibre.
  • Coarse mix, ready made mixture as nuts.
  • Bran, Great for fibre and good to add a bit to the food mixture, makes horse eat slower.
  • Flaked maize lacks in fibre, but boosts energy and helps add weight.
  • Pony nuts: balanced mixture of pony or horse food.
  • Treats: can feed tasty snacks like: carrots, apples, peppermints, suger cubes (not too many).
  • Never feed horses cubes, pellets and meal, made for cattle. They're specifically prepared for animals which chew the cud.
  • Stick to a routine and never change your horses diet suddenly.
  • Provide only good quality, sweet smelling hay.
  • Foals can be fed milk powder even before being weaned. Mix it in their meal.

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?