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The best food for a horse is kept simple, relying on well-cured grass hay, plenty of clean drinking water and grain supplements, such as oats or barley. Provide a well-balanced diet for a horse with advice from a riding instructor in this video on equestrian living.
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We're going to talk about horse nutrition, and I think that keeping it simple here in our backyards is our best bet, as well as much of the research that I read, and my vets included, always suggest that we keep it the simple of... horses do best when they... one, we must ensure that they have adequate supplies of water. It's surprising how much a horse will drink a day, particularly in the hotter climates. Then, we go to their next biggest staple food, which would be what we call a grass hay. Here in Texas, we rely on Bermuda Coastal. We want to see hay that's been properly cured, which ensures that it's free of any mold or mildew, that it's dry and leafy, without a lot of weeds or burrs or other things that might not be good for the quality of that hay. Once you've ensured that they have ample supplies of their good coastal or grass hay, and water, then we can start to look at other kinds of feeds that we might add to it. You might not think of your grain source as a supplement, but truly horses can be managed well without a grain source. However, like us, who compete, we're going to start to add some things that will boost their protein intake as well as their fiber and carbohydrates, starches. So we feed a twelve percent protein pelleted food, that we add to what they already get in the way of a grass hay and their adequate supplies of water. You can also use natural ingredients such as oats, barley, things that in your region might be able to provide that source without being a commercially prepared pellet. We also, during high times of competition, we will supplement with alfalfa. Alfalfa has some controversy to it; many people don't realize that it's actually a legume, somewhat like a bean. So we want to be certain we don't overfeed the source of alfalfa, but we find that it can be a supplement to their otherwise simple diet. In addition to that, there are many things you can supplement with. Joint supplements... electrolytes... lots of things that take a number of... you need to study and research so that you're sure that you're not just one, throwing your money away, or simply adding something that's not beneficial. As far as treats, that's always a preference. I don't feed treats in my routine in daily training program, but if given treats, I think apples... carrots... particularly if you feed them in their manger rather than hand feed them--which can lead to disruptive behavior--they can be a good source of fun.