Assess Your Horses Weight, Condition and Needs:

In order for any nutrition program to be effective it has to serve the purpose for the animal you are feeding.  Feeding a Shetland pony a draft horse diet is not only incorrect but also dangerous.


To know what and how much to feed you first need to know your horse’s weight, his current body condition and his nutritional needs.

I say it 20 times a week “Feed by weight not volume” and you will see it again under “W” later in the year.  If the rule of thumb is 1.5-2% of your horse’s body weight in feedstuffs per day then you must know the body weight to calculate the percentage.

Not only does knowing your horse’s weight help in feeding rate but it also will keep you aware of any changes in your horse’s weight that might indicate health issues.

The second step of our Assessment is Body Condition Scoring (BCS).  In order to determine what we might need to tweak in our feeding program we need to know if our horse’s current body condition is adequate.  Using the Henneke Body Conditioning system you can see and feel for fat deposits and determine a BCS of your animal.  Obviously if you feel too much fat we would adjust calories down, too little and we would add calories.


The final step in our Assessment is to understand the nutritional needs of your horse for the job he is doing.  A pasture ornament that never gets ridden has different nutritional demands than a show jumper in competition.  Knowing the caloric requirements for your horse for maintenance PLUS any extras (like exercise, breeding, growing, etc) and the energy density of your feedstuff will go a long way in maintaining the perfect weight and body condition.

Here are the typical calorie needs per day for different levels of equine activity:

Activity Level_Calories per DayHere are some typical calories per pound of common feedstuff:

Equine Nutrition Nerd_Calories in Feed Stuff

So our first word for the letter A was Assess.  Good equine nutrition begins with an Assessment of your horse’s weight, body condition, and nutritional requirements.  An additional Assessment of his diet including the caloric value of his feed and hay should also be conducted. 

Chestnut horse with a blaze eating his dinner in a black rubber feeder

~Peace and Good Feed,

The Nerd

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