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The horse should look bright, ears attentive and eye bright and clear.
The owner should be very familiar with his normal appearance and
every morning should look carefully for any departure from the normal.
The normal temperature is 37.8 to 38.6C. (100 to 101.5F.)
Respirations 8 to 12 per minute.
Pulse 35 to 40 per minute.
The gums and the membrane of the eye should be salmon pink.
Pale colouring indicates anaemia, and red indicates fever.






The horse will normally be in good condition and healthy if he lives under the following conditions.

1.  His water supply is reliable and sufficient nourishing food is available to him, but this must not be in excess.
2.  His teeth are in good order so that he can eat properly.
3.  Internal parasites (worms) are kept in check.
4.  He is free from external parasites (lice and skin infections).
5.  His feet are in good order so that he can move about comfortably.
6.  He is not subjected to undue heat or cold.

It is the duty of every horse owner to see that these basic requirements are fulfilled.  [TOP]


Horses exist under a tremendous variety of living conditions and the amount of work each is expected to perform also varies greatly. To plan the feed for each horse to suit the way he lives and the work he has to do, is a specialised art, which has been developed over generations of horse owners. At first, practical experience worked out successful theories and in later years these were proved (or disproved) by scientific study.
The good horseman should not be content merely to know what is the right way to feed, but should have some understanding of the reasons why.

Grazing is the natural system of feeding and grass the natural food. The horse has a remarkably small stomach so needs to get his food slowly and fairly continuously and this he does when grazing quietly during most of the day.

When a horse is working he needs more food but his grazing time is greatly curtailed. He must now be supplied with food, which is more concentrated, so that he can get the necessary nourishment in a short time, and without putting too much bulk into his small stomach. The art of feeding is the ability to be able to select the type and quantity of food which will enable the horse to do the work required of him whilst keeping healthy, fit and in good condition.   [TOP]

Rules for Good Feeding.

1. Feed little and often in imitation of the natural method.
2. Feed sufficient bulk because the horse needs this to digest his food successfully.
3. Feed according to the work required. lncrease concentrates if the demands of work are heavy, reduce if they become light, stop them if work ceases. As concentrates are reduced, bulk foods must be increased to keep his stomach filled.
4. Make no sudden changes in the type of food or in the routine of feeding. All adjustments must be made slowly over a period of weeks.
5. As far as possible, keep the same feeding hours daily.
6. Feed good clean fodder only.
7. Do not work for at least an hour after a full feed. The use of the horse's muscles will make an extra demand on the blood stream with a consequent reduction of the supply available to the digestive tracts. The resulting lack of activity in these tracts may cause colic.
8. Have clean fresh water always available. 

Types of Food.

A horse needs a proportion of rough indigestible fibre in his diet to supply bulk in his stomach. This assists with the digestion of the more concentrated foods. This bulk is present in all types of hay and chaff, which is chopped up hay.
A correctly balanced ration supplies all the horse's requirements. Protein for muscle building and growth carbohydrates for growth, energy and warmth and minerals and vitamins in small but essential quantities and water.
Oats have the highest carbohydrate content of the cereals and thus supply a high content of energy and heat.
Hay is made from various plants and pastures. Meadow or Grass Hay ... made from a crop of mixed pasture grasses. Clover and/or Rye Grass Hay. Oaten Hay ... the whole of the oat plant cut and bundled. Lucerne Hay. Pea Hay ... the plant after the peas are harvested. These are all good, supplying both bulk and concentrated food to the horse. Oaten hay is good fodder but is wasteful, as horses tend to eat the grain and leave the stalks. The quality of all hay depends on the quality of the plant and on the conditions under which it was harvested. It should be crisp and bright, showing a little colour, sweet smelling and not dusty or mouldy.
Hay Net. When hay is fed in a haynet under any circumstances, it should be fixed at such a height that even when empty, the horse would not be able to catch his foot in it. This usually means catching up the lower end.
Chaff is made from oaten or wheaten or Lucerne hays. It should be bright, not dusty or broken up, sweet smelling and crisp. Lucerne hay and chaff should be green and leafy.
Concentrates. Oats, whole, bruised or crushed. Barley steamed or rolled. Wheat crushed. Linseed meal. Pellets. Bran. Experience has proved that Oats is the grain best suited to horses doing strenuous work. They supply a balanced, nutritive and readily digested food much relished by all horses. The grain has more roughage than most other grains and so is well suited to the horse's stomach. Oats can be fed whole, bruised or crushed. The latter two cases could possibly make digestion easier, but once the husk is cracked the grain deteriorates quite quickly. If the grain has not been freshly crushed when bought it, may have already lost much of its nutrition value.
Wheat is not generally recommended as a feed for horses. It must never be fed whole as it compacts in the stomach.

Barley is best fed steamed or rolled. It is a good substitute for oats. It does not have the same effect of making the pony lively. Many people boil whole barley but this takes time and care, is not necessary, and is not recommended. Feeding dry is far more natural to the horse and keeps his digestive juices working better.
Pellets. The feeding of pellets has many advantages but is probably more expensive. It saves storing of different kinds of feed, it saves time in mixing feeds and ensures that the horse has a standardized mixed balanced diet. Pellets do not have the same hotting up effect as oats. Chaff should be fed with pellets to supply bulk for the stomach and to encourage better mastication.
Bran. Most horses like bran and it is quite a good feed if mixed with chaff, but is not a necessary part of the diet.

To sum up . . . Feeding should be made as simple as possible. If the horse is eating well and looking well there is no need for fancy trimmings. Mostly this will be so if he is fed the quantity of oats to meet his requirements for growth, work, etc. This should be mixed with an equal amount of chaff (volume, not weight). An ample supply of clover or lucerne hay and even moderate grazing will give him all he needs. Damping the feed is not recommended, it is not natural, it makes for messy and smelly feeders and attracts flies. A very few horses do better on damped feeds, but this is quite the exception. Much money can be spent on unnecessary additives such as molasses, powdered milk etc. Vitamin supplements are unnecessary and very often harmful. The horse gets all he requires in his normal diet and manufactures quite a number in his own body. The requirements are very small and if rich supplement is fed, the whole balance can be upset with often very upsetting results to the horse's health.
If a horse or pony is on hard feed for any length of time, it is advisable to feed a tablespoonful of ground limestone and a tablespoonful of salt daily.

A horse grazing on good pasture will be getting all he needs for all but really strenuous work. This is his natural balanced diet. To make the artificial feed of grain etc. equally balanced, the horse should always have included in his ration some lucerne, clover or pea hay.
Apples and carrots are good for horses. Carrots should always be cut lengthways in long fingers as chunky pieces can get stuck in the throat. 

Water. Clean water in a clean receptacle should always be available to the horse.

The opinions advise and information contained in this website/section/page are provided as a guidance only.
While the information contained in this website has been formulated with all due care by the Pony Club Association of Victoria,  The Pony Club Association of Victoria its servants and agents accept no responsibility  for any person acting or relying on or upon any opinion advise or information and disclaims all liability for any error, omission,defect or mis-statement (whether such error, omission, defect or misstatement is caused by or arises from negligence or otherwise on the part of the Pony Club Association of Victoria its servants and agents) or for any loss or other consequence which may arise from any person relying on anything within this website.
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