Is it dangerous to not let your horse graze all day?
 
 

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Is it dangerous to not let your horse graze all day?

This is a discussion on Is it dangerous to not let your horse graze all day? within the Horse Health forums, part of the Keeping and Caring for Horses category
  • How much to let your horse graze
  • How long does a horse graze in 24 hours

 
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    12-20-2009, 07:53 PM
  #1
Weanling
Is it dangerous to not let your horse graze all day?

At my former barn my horse had access to round bales all day, every day, and he eats himself to death. I recently switched to a nicer place, that is very willing to customize diets, so during the winter when round bales are used I have my horse in a dry lot. I know that horses are grazing animals, but I also know that in the wild they ran around a lot more and needed more fuel. But today, a woman told me that because horses have such large stomachs and so much bile if they don't get to eat at least every 4 hours they can get sick. Is this true? Should I put my horse back into a pasture with a round bale and hope he doesn't eat too much? I wouldn't really care that he ate a lot, but I am in school so I can't just up how much I work him to burn the extra calories. Any input is appreciated!
     
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    12-20-2009, 07:56 PM
  #2
Weanling
Although I'm not positively sure, if they get sick or not, I think it depends on each horse.

Horses are naturally all-day eaters.
They do better getting to eat a small portion every day for let's say every hour, than 2 meals in 1 day.

Perhaps put your horse outside, and just give a small amount of hay, spread everywhere, so it has to go and 'find' it's food.
It might not be easy for it to all of a sudden switch after all :)
     
    12-20-2009, 07:59 PM
  #3
Yearling
No, I think that would be a myth.
They both have benefits I guess.
Horse's can be fed on a schedule and a certain ration of food, as long as he is getting the appropriate amount, When a horse has a bale all round. Like my horses, they do get more 'plump'.
I think horse's are just as well better off with a schedule, than with a free bale.
But I don't know, it is what you prefer, as long as the horse is getting the required amount of food, and not to little than you should be fine. But if a horse had to eat every 4 hour hour's straight. Well I don't exactly know what to say to that.
     
    12-20-2009, 08:05 PM
  #4
Weanling
Yea, that's what I always thought TwisterRush. He gets grain twice a day and available hay all night.
     
    12-20-2009, 08:08 PM
  #5
Yearling
Than I see nothing wrong than with how his schedule is.

IMO, Horses can get some health issues, even if they are grazing animals, if they get free choice of their ration. Never mind the work trying to take off the pounds !
But again as I said, there is pro's and con's of each, and it is personal preference.
     
    12-20-2009, 08:11 PM
  #6
Foal
Grazing time

Horses should be fed at least twice a day (personally, I think at least 3 times in an absoluted minimum). However, the more time they can spend grazing the better. In the wild, they would graze 12 hours or more per day. The more time they can spend grazing, the better it is for them physically (e.g. Prevent colic, ulcers) and mentally (prevent stress/boredom related habits such as cribbing or wood chewing).

The only problem is weight control. They should eat a low-calorie but high-fiber diet so the eating time is stretched out, they have the necessary fiber and don't put on weight too fast. If they start putting on weight, one need to restrict food intake. One of my mares puts on weight easy, so I use a moveable fence, starting her on a small area and once she has really eaten that down then enlarging it, but never giving her an unlimited about of ungrazed pasture. However, which solution is best for you depends on your individual circumstances. Perhaps just giving a limited amount of hay a few times per day?

Certainly, one should not worry about a horse getting too much grazing time (except for the weight issue). On the contrary, the only risk is too little.
     
    12-20-2009, 08:16 PM
  #7
Green Broke
Actually it is not a myth, a horse is designed to eat high fiber food constantly to work as a buffer for their stomach acid that can give them ulcers and cause internal bleeding. It is better for them to have constant access to hay, btu not rich hay like alfalfa, maybe you could ask if they have a "plainer" hay so he does not get so fat?
     
    12-20-2009, 08:20 PM
  #8
Weanling
Unfotunately, my only options are letting him eat 24/7 or having him in a dry pasture 6-8 hours a day. I would try muzzling for a few hours every day, but appart from the initial revulsion at the idea, he's had scars on his muzzle for many years before I got him and having a halter on for any length of time opens them up again, so that's not an option. Ugh!! I wish I could just make my horse not eat so much!
     
    12-20-2009, 08:20 PM
  #9
Weanling
He's had only grass hay for the past year :( so there's nothing more plain I could give him.
     
    12-20-2009, 08:22 PM
  #10
Green Broke
You can get a fleece liner to prevent the muzzle from hurting him, or get a nylon grazing muzzle.
     

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