Feeding the Horse at Summer Pasture
As the days get longer, your horses will start spending more time out at pasture. The sun is out, the grass is growing, you are likely to be training more often in preparation for the Dodson & Horrell Trailblazers Dressage Championships, but with more access to turnout do you still need to feed in the summer?
Grass is a great source of fibre and there is certainly more around at this time of year but grass doesn’t contain all of the nutrients that are needed by horses. Summer grass usually contains a great number of calories and potentially high levels of protein along with a good level of vitamin E. All of these along with a good digestible energy level can often result in a rather round looking horse and this is when owners are likely to cut out feeding. It is a common mistake that horses are getting all of the nutrients needed if their weight is good but unfortunately weight is not a good indication of this.
Alongside weight, you also need to take in to consideration the age and workload of the horse, the season, the species of pasture grass, your pasture management and the length of time the horse has access to grazing. It has been shown that extended periods of grazing are needed to get close to a horse’s nutritional requirements and you can understand why when you factor in that pasture can be 50-80% water. The most important message here is that although spring and summer grass may provide an abundance of calories, it is not well balanced from a mineral point of view and relying on grazing as a sole source of nutrition would not maintain optimum health in horses – Feeding balanced vitamins and minerals is essential for skin and hoof quality, digestion, metabolism and maintenance of other vital systems.
Even the most carefully managed pasture will never be rich enough (especially here in the UK) to provide the diversity of plants to ensure mineral balance, and the balance of those nutrients are as important as the quantities. The most straightforward way to ensure that you horse is getting the right nutritional profile throughout the summer without the additional calories is to feed a low-calorie balancer such as Dodson & Horrell Ultimate Balancer. Balancers are developed to be a low intake, concentrated source of already balanced vitamins and minerals and are ideal for topping-up nutritional levels in forage.
As with any other season in the year it is vital to keep your horse hydrated with fresh water and when working up a sweat during the hotter days you may want to supplement further with Dodson & Horrell electrolytes to encourage drinking.
For further information please visit our website www.dodsonandhorrell.com and speak to one of our friendly, expert nutritionists via our free online chat or call our free helpline on +44 (0) 845 345 2627.