Feed for Need

Pleasure riding and retired horses have nutritional needs that vary greatly from that of high-performance horses.


hayIf you are a pleasure rider or only work your horse hard occasionally, his diet will differ from that of a high-performance competition horse.

Both types of horses need to have a dietary foundation of high-fiber roughage—either hay or pasture. Combined with free access to clean water and a salt block, this is all many horses need to maintain their weight and health.

If your horse does need supplemental calories, consider adding soaked beet pulp or a small amount of vegetable oil or rice bran to his diet. These are dense in calories without the high starch content of cereal grains.

If you do incorporate grain into your feeding program, use only what your horse needs to maintain his weight, and never more than 5 pounds per meal. Grain mix formulated for horses has the advantage of including vitamins and minerals at the levels an adult horse requires.

If your horse is an easy keeper that tends to gain too much weight, ration balancer pellets are available to provide vitamins and minerals without the extra calories of grain.

If your horse is insulin-resistant, prone to laminitis, has Equine Metabolic Syndrome or any other problem requiring special nutritional management, talk to your vet about diets that are safer for horses with these needs.

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Holly Caccamise has been with Horse Illustrated and Young Rider since 2007, and in August 2019, she took over as head editor. She’s been instrumental in the production of both magazines and helped Horse Illustrated win a 2018 American Horse Publications Media Award in the General Excellence Self-Supported Publication (circulation 15,000 and over) category. Before getting involved in the editorial side of print media, she worked as an award-winning ad copywriter for Thoroughbred Times magazine. Caccamise has her MS in Animal Science from the University of Kentucky, where she studied equine nutrition and exercise physiology, and her Bachelor’s from UCLA in Biology. Caccamise has also worked as a research assistant, horse camp counselor teaching riding and vaulting, and as a top-level show groom in the eventing world, where she continues to compete her horse, Artie, at the lower levels.


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