When purchasing hay for your horse, assess its freshness; it should not be dusty or smell moldy or musty. Moldy hay contributes to respiratory ailments in horses. The more mature the hay is when it’s harvested, the more stemmy and high in fiber/low in protein it will be. While this may be nutritionally adequate for lightly ridden horses and easy keepers, it is also less palatable and may not get eaten at all.
The two types of hay are grass and legume. Examples of grass hay are orchard grass, Bermuda grass and timothy. Legume hays include alfalfa and clover. Many hay producers grow mixed fields for “combination” hay—for example, orchardgrass and clover.
Back to Horse Health Glossary
Back to Equine Nutrition A to Z
This article originally appeared in the 2010 issue of Horses USA. Click here to purchase a copy.