Feed a Horse Like a Horse All Night Long
True or false? Horses donít need as much hay during the
night because they sleep.
False, and dangerous. Equine nutrition expert Dr.
Juliet Getty frequently has to bust this myth because the facts are
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.
One more fact to keep in mind:
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 is 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,
Ease your horseís 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 toólike a horse.
This tip was brought to you by Dr. Juliet Getty (www.gettyequinenutrition.com)
and KAM Animal Services, home of KAMís weekly tips. Go to
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