Olivia Colton MSc, Senior Nutritionist at Feedmark, explains how to make sure your horse is getting the right nutrition during restricted turnout.
Restricted turnout, whether due to yard rules, injury, or bad weather increases the risk of digestive issues, including colic and ulcers in your horse.
The obvious way to improve this would be to increase your horse's turnout, but when this isn’t an option, these top tips can encourage digestive health.
1. Provide ad-lib forage (where possible)
Not only is forage vital for digestive health, but eating it also keeps your horse occupied.
Fibre is digested by micro-organisms in the hindgut that produce heat as they break fibre down, meaning forage also helps to keep your horse warm and snug.
2. Warm water
Keeping your horse hydrated is especially important when they're not eating fresh forage, which has a high water content.
Horses have been shown to prefer warmed water when the weather is cold, and you can soak feeds and hay to further hydrate your horse.
3. Hard feed
If you're unable to exercise your horse as often as usual, it may be a good idea to reduce the level of hard feed you're giving your horse.
If you continue feeding as normal, your horse may gain weight or start to become a bit over-exuberant!
4. Keep him happy!
Some horses don't like extended periods of confinement. To relax your horse, you could try adding a calming supplement to his feed.
You can also encourage natural browsing behaviour by providing more than one type of forage to his diet, making sure that you introduce this gradually.
As well as feeding traditional hay or haylage, you can provide your horse with compressed fibre blocks, short-chopped and pelleted alfalfa, straw and grass, and soaked fibre feeds.
Root vegetables, such as swedes and carrots, also go down well and provide a healthier alternative to some sugary lick treats.
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