Horse Feeding Myths & Misconceptions

Occasionally I will post an article from one of my friends in the equine nutrition field. One of the best of the best is Dr. Marty Adams.  I learn something every time I am with Marty.  Here is a great article he wrote about some of the common Myths & Misconceptions in feeding your horse.  Hope you learn something too 🙂

By: Dr. Marty Adams (PhD Equine Nutrition)

“Compared to most classes of livestock, there seems to be more myths and misconceptions when it comes to feeding horses. Many of these feeding myths appear to be long-held traditions that have been passed down from horse owner to horse owner. These myths or misconceptions are likely due to the fear of harming the horse, a lack of understanding of the feedstuff or the feeding practice, or thinking that the horse’s digestive system or nutrient requirements are similar to that of the human horseman. The old adage that “It’s always been done this way!” can be a powerful argument in keeping a tradition alive, in spite of scientific fact. We now have some scientific evidence that some of these “horse tales” are not true and may be harmful to the horse, so let’s review some of the most common horse feeding myths and misconceptions. Continue reading

Nutrition Tip



ENN_Nerd Nutrition Tip 12

Horses are called “trickle feeders” because they naturally eat slowly all day. If you feed grain, try to feed as many little meals you can and NEVER feed more than 5 lbs of grain at any one meal.  A big ol’ slow feeding hay net is a great way to create a trickle feeding system.

Book Review: Natural Feeding For Horses

Natural Feeding for Horses


As most of my regular followers know I am a HUGE proponent of a forage based diet. I’ve said it a million (well, maybe 1,000) times “It’s the way horses were designed to eat”.  So, it will come as no surprise that I am a fan of this new book. It’s the answer to many a horse owners prayers really. How do I feed my horse in a way that supports him physically, nutritionally and psychologically?

Author, Alexandra Wesker MSc, approaches equine nutrition in a holistic way that includes all the important aspects; 1) what horses actually need in their diet according to health, activity and body condition, 2) what feed stuffs that diet should consist of based on #1, and 3) how it should be fed based on where they eat, who they share that space with, and the environment he lives in.

This chart from the book will give you an idea of how her approach differs from traditional feeding and housing.


All of her recommendations are supported by research and a detailed explanation of the “whys” for a natural feeding program are outlined.  As expected she included health reasons such as gut function and nutrient absorption, but what I was thrilled to see was behavioral/psychological reasons such as slow feeding, stress reduction and boredom reduction were included as well.

But she didn’t stop there! There are also the physical reasons beyond equine digestion. This rarely is addressed in nutrition books as we tend to focus on nutrition as it affects gut health and digestion (the digestive tract).  Including other body areas such as the effects of feeding on muscle, bones and  teeth function really is important, and they are in this book!

Don’t get worried that all this info will be too technical.  The book is made up of easy-to-use steps, guides and charts to help anyone figure out what is best for each horse (as an individual).

Alex starts with a terrific explanation of roughage and the different types.  This is an area I get at least one email a week so I understand how confusing it can be to the horse owner.

This is followed up by the factors that will affect the nutrient requirements of your horse.  Exercise is a pretty standard factor included in most nutrition books but instead of the familiar NRC choices (light, moderate, heavy and very heavy), this book uses the F.I.T.T. principle to determine a value. FITT stands for Frequency. Intensity. Time. and Type. Which will give you a more accurate reflection.

The book leads you through determining your horse’s Natural Feeding Level. Converting your horse’s current ration to a Natural Feeding Value. And finally to determining the particular Natural Feeding diet for each level and how to adjust your horse’s current ration.

There is also a great reference section as well as an extensive glossary to boot!

Feeding your horse “naturally” isn’t a new concept; offering a diet high in good quality roughage according to each horse’s particular needs is a well understood concept.  Obviously, based on the emails I receive, the “how to do it” part is what is missing. This book is your answer!

A bit more about the author:

Alex is an animal scientist specializing in horse health. Alex is based in England where she writes and consults on horse well being and nutrition. She gained both her BSc and MSc in Animal Science from Wageningen University in the Netherlands – one of the World’s foremost life-sciences universities. Her studies encompassed a wide range of areas from nutrition, physiology and genetics, to immunology and anatomy. This has enabled her to think and work more comprehensively in the work she does with horses. Alex has enjoyed riding from a young age and has a horse called Sensation.



To order a copy click here

Peace and good food,

The Equine Nutrition Nerd