Feeding a horse in the summer, when the weather is nice and the horse is more active, can be quite different than feeding a horse in the winter, when it’s cold and horses are more likely to be standing idle. While many horses are what is known as “easy keepers,” which means they don’t need a lot of micromanaging to maintain weight and good health, they can also be quite sensitive at times. Here are three basic rules to follow to maintain good horse nutrition in the summer.
Whereas in the winter you tend to feed a little more to help the horse stay warm, in the summer most horse owners will need to feed a little less. It’s tempting to think you’ll actually need more due to increased activity levels, but in reality even a pleasure ride every day isn’t going to require an increase in caloric intake. You’ll want your horse to lose any extra “winter weight” they were carrying to help them stay warm, for one thing, but for another, we actually tend to overestimate what is actually moderate or heavy work for a horse. In general, horse nutrition stays the same in the summer too, so unless your vet diagnoses something specific, you shouldn’t need any extra supplements for summer.
Keeping feeding habits and schedules consistent is also incredibly important, as abrupt changes can cause horses to get stomach upset, known as colic, which could potentially be fatal for a horse. Too much rich food could even cause a horse to develop problems with their feet, called laminitis. If you plan on making major changes to the type of feed your horse gets, be sure to make the change slowly, over several days or even weeks. This is especially important when it comes to transitioning a horse onto pasture, which is usually much richer than the feed they are used to. Start with just ten or fifteen minutes a day and gradually increase the time.
Last but not least, always ensure your horse has plenty of clean water at all times. Dehydration in the summer heat is another common cause of colic. An average horse generally needs around 10 gallons of water a day, depending on temperature and conditions, but they’re likely to drink a lot more than usual when it’s very hot out.
If you ever have questions about horse nutrition, whether in the summer or any other time of year, be sure to ask the experts. Your vet can tell you your horse’s body condition score and give you some recommendations on weight and diet, but don’t forget about another resource available to you: the producers of the very feed your horse eats. Contact Sacate Pellet Mills today with any questions and we can help you put together a plan for providing your horse with the proper nutrition.