Horse owners live a very different existence in the wild than they do with humans. Although free-ranging horses such as the American Mustang are considered feral, not wild, they still live more how nature intended them to: foraging for their dinner as much as 16 hours a day, traveling many miles in order to find enough to eat, and weathering all kinds of conditions. It can be a hard life, but it’s not without its advantages, and as a result many horse owners strive to keep their horses as naturally as possible.
From turnout to all natural horse feed, here are three ways to capture all the best parts of a horse’s life in the wild.
One of the key elements of how horses live in the wild is being able to roam freely. Horses are no more meant to stand in the same place all day long than you or I are. Stalled horses are therefore more prone to colic and injury, not to mention vices such as cribbing and weaving that stem from boredom and anxiety.
The most natural way to keep your horse is on a large pasture with plenty of space to roam around, but of course this isn’t possible for a great many horse owners. You can however get as close to this lifestyle as possible by keeping your horses in a corral, providing turnout for stalled horses during the day, or at the very least, getting a stalled horse out for daily exercise.
Horses are herd animals, which means they are happiest when they are part of a group of horses. Horses that are kept in pastures or corrals benefit from social interactions with other horses, even if the herd dynamics are a little nerve-wracking for their owners. Not every horse can live in a herd environment, of course, so if yours can’t, look for the next best things, such as stalls or paddocks where horses can make friends over the panels, or even a turnout buddy or two. Horses may also appreciate a miniature horse, donkey, or even a goat as a companion.
Horses do best on diets that consist primarily of forage, which means either pasture or hay. Their long intestines require a high fiber diet in order to remain healthy, avoiding issues like colic that are every horse owner’s worst nightmare. Of course, pasture lush enough to support a herd of horses is hard to come by, so most horses get some combination of man-made diets, whether hay and supplements, or a complete feed. Even if your horse can’t eat pasture grass, you can arrive at the same nutritional content (if not better) by providing plenty of fiber and all natural horse feed.
Wild and feral horses may be able to roam freely, live in herds, and eat diets rich in fiber from forage, but they also can suffer from nutrient deficiencies, lack of vet care, lack of farrier care, and other things they get in captivity. In other words, neither situation is truly ideal, but we can provide our horses with the best of both worlds by giving them things like turnout and all natural horse feed in addition to all the advantages of human care.
For more information on how complete horse feeds can provide a natural, balanced diet for your horse, contact Sacate Pellet Mills at 602-237-3809.