Horses and Ponies are grazing animals and forage feed is necessary for the proper functioning of their digestive system as it is the horse's most natural diet. A horse or pony usually consumes about 2% or more of their body weight in feed each day although an individual horse's nutritional requirement will vary depending on their age, weight and activity. Ideally at least half, preferably all, of a horse's daily feed should be made up of forage feed. As forage feed is such an important factor in any horse's diet consideration should always be to quality providing the highest quality forage feed available.
Mature horses who perform little or no work may be fed on good quality forage alone with no need to supplement their diet with any other feed. Horses kept at grass may require only supplemental forage feed during the winter. However, working horses, stabled horses, growing or breeding horses may require additional feed.
It should be remembered that any horse or pony having regular exercise and then rest days will require less feeding on the rest days to prevent Azoturia developing. Any sudden change in the type of feed or the time of feeding should be avoided.
Horses and ponies should be fed at regular times and a horse or pony should be given a few hours between having a hard feed and carrying out strenuous exercise. Strenous exercise on a full stomach can cause breathing problems and also put strain on the heart. A horse or pony should never be fed directly after hard exercise.