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Feeding a grass kept veteran horse over the winter

Many veteran horses do well on 24/7 turnout during the winter months, as long as certain provisions, such as shelter, exist. Here, we have a look at feed ideas to help your veteran out at grass thrive this winter.

Veteran horses or those who are inclined to drop condition over the winter may need more of a boost in terms of the feeds you give them. Hay should be a staple feed, and is essential in order for horses to keep warm, and to keep their guts in optimum condition. It can also help to prevent boredom. Older horses, particularly those with poor teeth, can struggle in the winter as they find it hard to chew on long fibre feeds. An equine dentist check-up and the addition of high-fibre cubes soaked into a mash are a good addition or alternative to forage when chewing becomes difficult.

Remember it is easier (and cheaper) to maintain condition than to try to build it up. Therefore, in horses prone to weight loss, consider feeding a conditioning feed as part of their diet as this can be increased if necessary.

Unlike good doers, older or less conditioned horses may need thicker rugs and more shelter, so they don’t waste energy on keeping warm.

It might be worth considering adding calories to your veteran’s diets, and one way to do this is through oil, which is easily digestible. This can come in the form of a specially formulated equine oil or a dry product such as micronised linseed. This can provide a targeted fuel which is easy for a horse to process, will avoid them being heated when ridden and will also add to coat and muscle condition. As an extra bonus, feeding oil in the winter can really support a shiny, healthy summer coat when the weather changes.

Your veteran will really appreciate succulents such as carrots, parsnips or swede. Relatively inexpensive and easy to feed from the ground, they can offer entertainment, vitamins, minerals and make a tasty treat. A great way to break up the boredom of hay and brighten up your horse’s feeding regime in the dull winter months.

Posted: 16/02/2017 12:46:17