false? Horses don’t need as much hay during the night because they sleep.
and dangerous. Equine nutrition expert Dr. Juliet Getty frequently has
to bust this myth. Believe the facts:
- Horses are awake and moving most of the time.
- Mature horses will sleep up to two hours per
day, broken into short periods.
- These 15 to 20 minute naps are intermittent
throughout the day and night.
In other words, horses do
not sleep for long periods of time the way humans and some other animals do.
Being prey animals, horses must get their sleep in frequent breaks of short
duration, ideally in a group situation where some take turns resting while
others remain alert for dangers.
fact to keep in mind:
- The horse’s digestion is designed to process
Horses are trickle
feeders, designed to graze continuously to keep the digestive system functioning
normally, thereby preventing ulcers and colic. Feeding them in sync with their
natural instincts and physiology requires that they have forage available any
time they want it. And that means 24/7.
The solution is simple:
Feed enough hay at night to make certain there is some left over in the
morning. If your horse runs out of hay and you wake to find him kicking and
pawing, he is hungry. But even if he seems to be waiting patiently, he may be in
discomfort or outright pain due to the acid bathing his empty stomach.
Certainly, he is also mentally stressed; this stress can lead to a multitude of
health problems (including, ironically, being persistently overweight).
Ease your horse’s
discomfort and keep his digestion healthy by giving him more hay than he
could possibly eat. Once he realizes the supply will never run out, he will
self-regulate and actually begin to eat less because he has relaxed, both
physically and emotionally. And you can sleep better, knowing that all
night long your horse is eating just the way he was meant to—like a horse.
Seven Feeding Myths Shattered
Dr. Juliet Getty has taught and consulted on
equine nutrition for more than 20 years. Her website, /redirect.php?location=www.gettyequinenutrition.com,
offers a library of helpful articles, a forum on nutrition, and a calendar of
appearances, teleconferences and interviews.