Nutrition plays an important role in a horse’s digestion and overall health. Providing the best nutrition to your horse will optimize the stomach to get the most nutrients out of it. The horse’s nutritional requirements change throughout its life.
But what are the factors that influence your horse’s dietary needs?
Typically, the main factors are the horse’s weight, age, job, gender, gestation status, and stress level, affecting the horse’s caloric requirement.
Here in this article, we will discuss 11 actionable tips for horse digestion optimization.
11 Actionable Tips For Horse Digestion Optimization
To keep your horse healthy, you need to feed it in a balanced way with energy, nutrients, and water. Here we will discuss some foods and aids for horse digestion optimization
1. Provide Ample Clean, Fresh Water
Water is the main component that plays a vital role in the well-being of all creatures. An average horse can drink almost 10 gallons of water a day, but this amount can increase in hot weather. It is essential to provide a large amount of water even in cold climates.
2. Maximize Pasture Turnout
If you want to keep the horse’s digestive system functioning at an optimal level, it is important to keep it close to nature. Those horses that have access to a lot of grass will spend a great deal of time grazing almost 18 hours, and their digestive system is designed for that. Horses that are fed plenty of grass never experience colic. But that is not possible as some horses suffer from laminitis and cannot go to graze. Some get fat after grazing too much.
3. Keep Grains to a Minimum
If you take a close look at the horse’s digestive system, you will find how much balance your horse needs in its diet. If they are fed grains in large quantities, it will promote gas formation in the hindgut. Once the grains move out of the hindgut, the microbes present take up the remaining carbohydrates and aid in gas formation.
If the gas is produced in large quantities, it will cause discomfort and even colic.
To avoid this situation, horses must be fed a balanced amount of grain.
4. Increase Forage Intake
If you want to improve your horse’s digestive health, increase his forage intake.
The fiber that our horses obtain from hay or forage should be between 1 and 2.5% of a horse’s weight.
A horse weighing 1000 pounds needs 20 pounds of hay in his daily diet with added grain. Animals that do not work hard can consume up to 25 pounds of hay along with grain supplements.
5. Provide an Alternative Caloric Source
You can also replace the carbohydrate source in your horse’s diet with other caloric sources. Corn and vegetable oil are typically used to add energy to the high-performance horse ration. Corn oil is generally a popular choice because it is inexpensive and more palatable, but canola and flax can also be used.
Oils are used as an alternative source because they are easily absorbed and contain no sugar or starch, and are safe to increase the calories in your horse ration.
Other benefits of adding oil are that they can reduce the risk of ulcers and give your horse’s coat a healthy appearance.
6. Change the Feeding Pattern (Offer Hay First, Then Grain)
Most equestrians feed the horse with grain and hay at the same time and let him decide what to eat first.
But according to the nutritionist, always feed the hay first.
As you know, the food moves quickly in the horse’s stomach, and when you feed them hay and grain, the horses eat the grain first as they like best and then the hay and water. As a result, grains move quickly through the stomach without being fully digested, and starches and sugar reach the large intestine without being absorbed and cause different problems.
7. Plenty of Exercises
Horses have a body structure that is designed in such a way that they keep moving all the time. The smooth muscle present in the intestine is assisted by exercise and movement. Horses moving through the pasture get enough exercise to help reduce gas buildup and shock. But the horses in the stable don’t get enough stimulation compared to those in the pasture.
For those horses that are completely stagnant, it is important to take them out for a walk or ride every day, even if only for 20 minutes, as it will improve their gut motility.
8. Help Your Horse in Stressful Times
Every horse can experience stress in any part of its life, whether from travel, a sudden change in exercise, pregnancy, spending too long in the stable, and other stressful events.
When horses are under stress, they will develop digestive problems and ulcers.
In such conditions, you must help your horse by modifying his diet.
9. Give Nutritional Supplement
Horses that eat more hay in their diet feel vitamin deficient, as older or wetter hay has fewer vitamins than fresh.
To protect your horse from deficiencies, you must supplement his diet by adding minerals and vitamins to his diet.
It would be best if you spoke with your veterinarian about mineral and vitamin supplements that can be added to his diet to meet the dietary requirements for minerals and vitamins.
One of the options you could discuss with your veterinarian is Black Balance horse supplements by Medrego. These supplements are made from natural ingredients, including multi-beneficial fulvic and humic acids. Thanks to these components, this product improves the work of the stomach and intestinal microbiome. Also, improves the absorption of nutrients from the gastrointestinal tract and removes heavy metals and free radicals from the body, thereby improving overall digestive health.
10. Beware of Mineral Proportions
Since minerals and vitamins are needed in specific amounts in the diet, as they play a fundamental role in bodily functions. Horses can regulate the amount of salt in their body according to their needs, but the ratio of calcium and phosphorus must be given in the right proportions.
Provide your horse with 2:1 calcium and phosphorus to get the most out of these minerals.
Too much calcium can reduce the amount of phosphorus absorption.
11. Avoid Letting Your Horse Ingest Too Much Sand
Typically the best way to feed your horse hay is off the ground because when horses tilt their heads down, gravity helps drain dust and other particles from their noses and sinuses. If you kept the horse on sandy soil, the horse ingests a lot of sand along with hay which will block the gut and result in sand colic. In such a problem, put the hay in the feeder or feed it off the ground.
To help your horse have a healthy and powerful digestive system, you should follow these actionable horse digestion optimization tips. You can offer some foods that are good for horse digestion.