How long to wait to ride before/after feeding grain? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 27 Old 01-26-2020, 09:14 AM Thread Starter
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How long to wait to ride before/after feeding grain?

Hey all!

Just had a quick question for knowledgeable horse people. I have owned and ridden horses since I was 12, but never ran into a situation where this was important as I could always wait to feed or ride until there was no issue. I am about to move my mare to a boarding facility where I will be doing self care so that I can make use of the indoor facility as winter in Canada has made riding at my farm absolutely painful or impossible and my mare's physical condition and my mental condition is quickly deteriorating and I'm not going to make it to good weather!

Anyways, I've always been told that it's not safe to feed and then ride. I'm not sure if there's truth to that or if it's just a thing that folks say, but... IS it a thing? How long should you wait to ride after feeding grain? And to the opposite, how long should you wait to feed after riding?

My mare is mostly a pleasure animal. I may ride her for an hour three times a week, and she does not tend to work very hard. Just flat work, and mostly in the jog, though we do enjoy loping and likely do a lot more of that in a nice big open indoor arena.

Thank you in advance for your help!
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post #2 of 27 Old 01-26-2020, 09:24 AM
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My understanding is that you shouldn't give a big meal of grain on an empty stomach and then ride. Because grain is hard for them to digest, especially if they are working hard. If your horse has been in a pasture with grass (doesn't sound likely right now in Canada LOL) or has had access to free choice hay and still has some hay left when you get there, and you don't feed her a big meal, then you should be fine. If it's just hay you are giving her, you shouldn't have to worry about it. I've actually read that feeding a small meal of hay before riding is actually helpful for the horse.

If it's feed you want to give her rather than hay, can you wait to feed her until after you ride?

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post #3 of 27 Old 01-26-2020, 09:40 AM Thread Starter
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I can absolutely feed after riding! That's probably the best way to go I suppose. I aim to try to have hay in front of them all the time but it doesn't always work out that way. This particular mare though should. She's a picker. LOL Thanks!
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post #4 of 27 Old 01-26-2020, 10:16 AM
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If she has had free-choice hay to eat then her gut has food in it which buffers the acids from sloshing around potentially causing irritation....
Ride her, cool her down completely then groom her, then after returning to her stall and hay pile for a bit, then give her her feed.
Do not place the feed in the stall then go ride expecting her to remain focused on you when she knows food is waiting she wants...that's not fair.
Do not place feed in her stall and feed it as soon as she returns...that creates a nasty cycle for many of rushing horse, impatience and pushy behavior.
After you are done doing all your chores, then give the feed...bring it into the stall and give...
Make sure she respects your presence and not crowd or push you seeing you coming for your safety.
Now, if you are pulling your horse out when everyone else is feeding...that is a different situation and scenario you will be dealing with.

Enjoy your ride time and horse this cold winter season.
...
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post #5 of 27 Old 01-26-2020, 10:32 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JazzNFancy View Post
Anyways, I've always been told that it's not safe to feed and then ride. I'm not sure if there's truth to that or if it's just a thing that folks say, but... IS it a thing? How long should you wait to ride after feeding grain? And to the opposite, how long should you wait to feed after riding?
Yes, if you're feeding a big grain meal a horse will find that difficult to digest. But hopefully you are not feeding actual grain (corn, oats, barley) since those are not great for horses anyway, but instead are feeding a pellet which people call "grain," even though it is something like hay pellets, beet pulp, or other roughage. Horses digest these like hay, so there is no problem with feeding them before or after riding.

If you are feeding roughage, or even a small amount of grain as in a pound or so, it is actually much better to feed a horse before riding rather than have them exercise on an empty stomach. Horses are meant to eat and exercise constantly throughout the day. They actually do not have lining on the upper part of their stomach, which means if they exercise on an empty stomach, the acid can splash up and cause ulcers. The natural state of a horse is to have food in the stomach nearly all the time, and it is natural to exercise with food in the stomach.
So many people such as myself make it a point to always feed some hay, pellets or grass before exercising a horse.

Endurance riders feed horses at every vet check along the ride, making sure they keep their digestive system working throughout the ride. This helps prevents metabolic issues and fuels the muscles for long distance. They also give horses water as often as they can, under vets advice, disproving another "old wives' tale" that you shouldn't give horses water before or after exercise .
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post #6 of 27 Old 01-26-2020, 10:51 AM
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A small alfalfa/Lucerne feed before riding has been proven to reduce the incidence of stomach ulcers. This is partly due to reducing acid sloshing, and partly due to the alkaline nature of alfalfa.

I would wait to feed grain/a heavy feed until after riding, but letting a horse have a few mouthfuls of alfalfa while grooming/tacking up is a good thing ime.

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post #7 of 27 Old 01-26-2020, 11:18 AM
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I always try to feed a bit of hay before riding. Put them in the stall with maybe 1/2 cup of pellets, and a flake of hay. They usually will have the hay about 1/4-1/2 gone by the time I get out my tack and brushes. (I take my time) then they stand calmly while I tack and groom.

The reverse after our ride, untack, groom, put horse in stall to relax and finish hay, put tack away, then feed if the right time or turn out if still daytime.


Happy horse, happy ride
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post #8 of 27 Old 01-26-2020, 11:40 AM Thread Starter
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She gets Evolution Elite feed, 6 quarts per feeding plus Equiline Shine supplement @1/2 cup per feeding as a top dress. This is the ONLY feed I have found that she will eat consistently. She is an EXTREMELY picky mare, and an even harder keeper. She is a paint/thoroughbred cross and used to be very high anxiety/stress. Though that was due to her management before I took her on. (Kept in a 10x10 stall pretty much all day every day with really inconsistent feeding... some days no feed at all, some days a lot of feed. She spent her life weaving and stall walking and screaming in the boarding barn I used to board my other horse at).

Since I've taken her on about 1.5 years ago, she has a huge pasture (12-15 acres) during the day with a small group (4 other horses generally), a 10x12 stall to come into at night to eat and sleep and relax. She has not weaved since the early days and doesn't stall walk unless she's in alone for some reason. Most people would still consider her high stress but she is night and day to when I bought her. She ad a reputation in our small town as the "Crazy Paint" and has hurt people due to her (justified) reactivity. She is a little light in the fore when she's worried, but she's a totally different animal now. She prefers the "show horse" life I suspect because that's how she's always been treated. When she first came home she stood at the pasture gate SCREAMING until all the people left and I have no idea if she stayed there longer. Now she is happy to get out and stays out until I call everyone in. Not so dramatic and reactive. I absolutely adore this lady now, where when I bought her my plan was just to upgrade her conditions and work under saddle long enough to resell to a good home. She's a keeper now.

I can absolutely give her a small amount of her grain and hay before I saddle up, then ride and cool out properly before she goes back to bed for the night, then feed her remaining portion. Sounds like an easy plan to me!
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post #9 of 27 Old 01-26-2020, 12:50 PM
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Well, “back in the really old days”, granddad made us wait the proverbial swimming hour:)

He always fed early in the AM. By the time cousin and I had breakfast, the horses were good to go.

I have always had more or less subscribed to that theory. My horses have not had any grains for years but, if I wanted to ride, I would feed them first to let their digestive process work while I did other stuff:)
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I CAN'T ride 'em n slide 'em. I HAVE to lead 'em n feed 'em Thnx cowchick77.
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post #10 of 27 Old 01-26-2020, 01:16 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by walkinthewalk View Post
Well, “back in the really old days”, granddad made us wait the proverbial swimming hour:)

He always fed early in the AM. By the time cousin and I had breakfast, the horses were good to go.

I have always had more or less subscribed to that theory. My horses have not had any grains for years but, if I wanted to ride, I would feed them first to let their digestive process work while I did other stuff:)
She feeds 6 quarts though, that is too much to ride after. The hour rule is a good one! I used to figure on two hours after a full meal.

I would get up, feed horses and other farm critters, return to house and feed kiddos and husband. Then send off everyone to school and work. Have cup of coffee or two then change clothes and go ride. Turn out afterwards & clean stalls. By that time, ready to make lunch for husband after shower or swim. I rode a minimum of two hours per day.

That was the life!
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