Horse Nutrition and Feeding

Horse Nutrition and Feeding

Your responsibilities at the stable may include feeding your horse, so it’s important to know the basics of horse nutrition and feeds.

Horse Nutritional Requirements

There are several types of nutrients crucial to horse health:

  • Carbohydrates and fats: Both these nutrients provide a horse with energy. Carbohydrates are the horse’s primary energy source; fats, the secondary source.
  • Protein: Proteins help maintain the horse’s muscles and ligaments.
  • Vitamins: These organic (carbon-containing) com-pounds encompass two groups: fat-soluble vitamins (such as vitamin A) and water-soluble vitamins (such as vitamin C).
  • Minerals: These inorganic compounds include macrominerals (compounds such as calcium that are needed in large quantities) and microminerals, or trace minerals (compounds such as zinc and copper that are needed only in small quantities).
  • Water: Water regulates the horse’s body temperature, keeps cells alive, transports nutrients to cells, and lubricates the body. On average, a horse needs about 1–2 quarts of water per pound of dry matter it eats.

Horse Feed

Horse feed includes both forage and concentrates.


Forage is plant material that’s high in fiber. It comes from two major sources: dry forage (such as hay) and pastures (fields of grasses or legumes where the horse grazes). Grasses are normally higher in fiber and dry matter.


Concentrates offer more nutrients but less fiber. Some examples of concentrates are corn, oats, and barley.

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