Using the Body Condition Scoring system and determining your horse’s weight are key elements to ensure you are feeding enough to maintain a happy, healthy horse.
Check out this short video we put together to help determine just how much feed your horse needs:
7 Replies to “How much should I feed my horse?”
I have been trying to feed my horse as best as possible but everything has been unsuccessful. I have dewormed him but he keeps loosing weight. He is very very skinny and I am begining to think that he might be very sick even when his coat is shiny and his eyes look happy. I am very scared to think he can die. The vet saw him but says he should eat more, he is now eating about 20lb of hay a day and is always hungry! What can you suggest?
Hi Liliana, Thanks for the question, and I’m sorry to hear you are having trouble. I’d suggest you read everything on this blog under the “Weight Control” topic on the left side of the screen if you haven’t already, there is a lot of good information here. Make sure you do a Body Condition Score and the “Weigh Your Horse without a Scale”, and repeat that every 2-3 weeks and keep track of it so you can see his progress.
From there, I’d suggest allowing him free choice hay, so he can take in as much as he needs, and then using our Life Design Senior horse feed to add additional calories – it’s excellent for putting weight on horses, particularly those that are very thin. Make sure you are feeding at the full recommended amount, which for a 1000 lb horse, particularly one that needs to gain weight, is 6-8 lbs per day. Make sure to work him on to that diet over a period of 5-8 days so as not to cause digestive upset.
Hope that helps, and please do let us know if you have more questions! Thanks ~ Gina T.
I too have been having problems getting my 20 year old quarterhorse to gain weight. His Veternarian has checked his teeth, they were good, he was dewormed, and he gets free choice of good hay, his veterinarian has checked. He also suggested a tablespoon of vegetable oil, in his am and pm feed. We are now adding a pound of food a day, so he is up to 6 pounds a day. He also gets 1-2 carrots a day. He is a mainly 4 on the condition scale, but I would say a 3 on his flank area. What else can be done? Thankyou
Hello Debbie, Thanks for checking in with us. It sounds like you are taking excellent care of your horse, and we can appreciate your concern! A couple of thoughts for you:
1. For a senior horse, you may need to go even higher in your feeding rate. A third feeding per day is an excellent way to get more calories in to him, without overloading him in a single feeding.
2. A tablespoon of oil to his diet is not going to have much effect – it’s such a small amount, that the additional calories are negligible. You will either need to add more (do so slowly, to avoid loose stools), or discontinue and go with option #1, to see much effect.
Overall, we would prefer to see him up in a Body Condition of 5, so gaining some overall weight will be a good thing for him. You might find that if you increase the feed for a while, until you get him to the 5 score, you will be able to back down to a lower amount that he will then maintain at in the long run.
Hope this helps – if you have more questions, please let us know!
Thanks ~ Gina T.
I recently just got a Thoroughbred. For the past 5 years she has not been ridden and has been fed hay. She does have a little hay belly. She’s healthy and I had the chance to ride her and surprisingly after 5 years she had no problem. My question is, is since she has been on hay and only hay. If I was to keep her on just hay, how much should I be feeding her? (Keep in mind she already has a hay belly) I do want to intigrate some oats in her diet, but I don’t want to drastically change her diet just yet. WHat do you suggest?
Hello Chrissy, Thanks for the question. Her hay belly is likely not so much a hay belly, as a lack of muscle tone over her topline, resulting in a sagging belly – not unlike some humans experience! 🙂
We would recommend keeping her on free choice hay, and as you introduce some exercise back in to her life, you should start to see an improvement in her muscling. You may find that she needs some additional calories (TB’s do tend to be harder keepers) as you exercise her, in which case we would suggest starting with something simple and designed to be fed in low amounts (2-3 lbs per day for a 1000 lb horse) such as Empower Balance. If you are working her more intensely and find that this amount of feed, coupled with free choice hay, is not keeping her in good condition, then we would suggest moving to a higher calorie product such as SafeChoice Special Care or SafeChoice Original, which also have slightly higher feeding rates.
In regards to the oats, while they have long been a traditional feed for horses, are actually not ideal. They are not balanced at all in terms of vitamins, minerals, or protein requirements.
We hope you find this helpful, and good luck with your new horse! Gayle R.
I just wanted to say, I own an ex racehorse ‘William’ who will be 35 years old this coming April. He has terrible problems with his teeth and cannot eat grass or hay. He lost so much weight last spring that I thought we would loose him. I changed his feed to a weight gain mix and increased his feed, feeding twice a day all through the summer, I feed him as much conditioning fibre as he will eat and the change has been unbelievable he is a different horse, and looks 15 or 16 years old, he still runs around the field and his companion who is 20 years old has trouble keeping up. just to say I was under the impression that he was loosing weight because of his age and I thought that he was unable to get the required nutrients, I was so wrong and so pleased that I didn’t give up and used in little common sense in the end. I also feed him Boswellia, as he was showing signs of stiffness in his joints which has given brilliant results.
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