The changes introduced by the Government earlier this week will affect many horse owners and could increase the risk of health problems for some horses.

Here are some things to consider, with advice from Dr David Marlin:

Hard feed

If your horse was in work and now isn’t or is in reduced work you should cut-back or remove any hard feed.

Maintaining the same feed intake with reduced work could increase the risk of colic, tying-up, behavioural problems and lead to rapid weight gain.


Many horses may require more forage. Grass is starting to grow (currently highest in the East) so for horses prone to laminitis, colic, obesity, EMS, manage turnout carefully.

Avoid making a change from 100% hay to 100% pasture as this leads to a major upset to the hindgut microbiome and an increased risk of colic.


Other than removing/reducing hard feeds and potentially increasing forage intake, avoid making any major changes to the diet.

Exceptions could include vitamin and mineral supplements, probiotics and supplements for specific conditions such as respiratory or joints.

For some supplements, you may be able to cut back the amount you feed and save money.

Salt and electrolytes

If you are feeding salt and or electrolytes and your horse was in work, then you could cut these back.


If you can’t ride then hand walking if you can keep away from other people or lunging (large circles) are good options and if you are lucky enough, horse-walkers or treadmills. But be careful not to overdo it.


If you are on lockdown with horses having to be stabled for most of the day, then try to relieve boredom with mirrors or stable treat toys or hanging toys. I’m personally not a big fan of licking blocks with high sugar content.

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