Horse feeding

Every horse owner wants only the best for his beloved horse. Of course, this also applies when it comes to feeding horses. Horse feeding is a complex topic that horse owners should deal with intensively, because the right choice of feed can have a positive influence on the horse's health and well-being. Horse owners naturally ask themselves a wide variety of questions:

What belongs in the feed trough and what should rather be avoided? Does feeding hay from hay nets/hayracks make sense? Can supplementary feeds support the horse's muscle development?

We will get to the bottom of all these questions and other important information about feeding horses. First of all, let's get a rough overview of the different types of horse feed.

What types of feed are there?

: Roughage forms the basis of every good horse feed. Roughage is hay, straw and haylage. It is very important that the forage is of high quality so that the horse gets enough nutrients. As a rule of thumb, 2 kg of roughage should be fed per 100 kg of horse.

feed: Single feeds such as oats, barley, maize, wheat bran and muesli belong to the group of concentrated feeds. As the name suggests, these feeds provide the horse with additional energy.

feed: Mixed feed includes, for example, supplementary feed, vitamin and mineral feed for the horse. These feed supplements can provide your horse with special vitamins and trace elements. These preparations are fed, for example, to strengthen your horse's immune system (rosehip) or to build up the horse's muscles (protein).

feed: Forage carrots, beets, beetroot, apples and grass belong to the juice feed. Juice feed provides energy, but also important vitamins. This is why fodder carrots and the like are often fed in winter.

Supplements in the feed:
Supplementary feed is everything that your horse gets out of the ordinary. Be it a tasty warm portion of mash in winter, a bowl of beet pulp for the horse to feed up or a portion of oil during the change of coat.

Herbs for horses

Many horse owners swear by herbs for horses. But before you start throwing all kinds of herbs into the feed trough, you should inform yourself about the properties and effects of the respective herbs for horses.

Which herbs have a positive effect on horse feed?


  • Calendula - to support the skin and mucous membrane
  • Rosehip - high vitamin C content and other valuable ingredients
  • Nettle - stimulates the metabolism
  • Iceland moss - nourishes and protects the mucous membranes
  • Ribwort - supports the bronchial tubes
  • Horsetail - supports metabolism and joints
  • Dandelion - detoxifies liver and gall bladder
  • Propolis - for a strong immune system
  • Horehound - for a healthy appetite and good digestion
  • Fenugreek - digestive and mildly laxative
  • Psyllium husks - to support the self-cleansing of the intestine
  • Camomile - anti-inflammatory, soothes the gastrointestinal tract
  • Biotin - stable hooves
  • Diatomaceous earth - healthy skin and good hoof growth
  • St. John's wort - for good nerves and relaxation
  • Lemon balm - relaxing, against cramps and flatulence
  • Devil's claw - healthy joints, reduces swelling in oedemas, for minor pain
  • Milk thistle - regeneration and detoxification of the liver
  • Hawthorn - strengthens heart and circulation and dilates blood vessels
  • Caraway - relaxing, against cramps and flatulence

Of course, this is only a small selection of the most common herbs for horses. For more herbs and information, you can of course use the internet, but a veterinary practitioner and your vet will also be able to help you.

Does it make sense to feed hay from a hay net or a hay rack?

In the past, wild horses spent up to 18 hours a day searching for food. They covered several kilometres a day and always filled their stomachs with small portions along the way. There were no long breaks to eat and the digestive tract was always kept going. This behaviour is, of course, completely different from that of today's domestic horse. Therefore, it makes sense to feed the hay from a hay net or a hay rack. This way, the horses are busy eating for longer and eat smaller portions. This can reduce the risk of colic, for example.

ATTENTION: Please do not place the hay nets too low, otherwise there is a high risk of injury.

Can supplementary feeds support muscle development in horses?

Especially after a long winter break, during which our horses have not been trained as usual, it is important to rebuild the horse's muscles and condition. However, the best training plan is of no use if the feeding is not right and our horse is not sufficiently supplied. It's the same the other way round, the best supplementary feed for building up the horse's muscles is no good if the horse only stands in the paddock most of the time. For muscle building, it is therefore essential to alternate between training sessions and rest periods with appropriate supplementary feed.

A well-known supplementary feed for muscle building is rice germ oil. Rice germ oil contains gamma-oryzanol, which is known for its muscle-building effect.

Caution with show horses: Rice germ oil must be stopped 48 hours before the start of the tournament.

Mineral feed for horses

Mineral feed for horses comes in various forms.

Mineral bar
: The pre-portioned form enables quick and easy feeding without tedious weighing or measuring. The mineral bar can be fed out of the hand as easily as a treat. This makes the bars ideal for horses that live in the pasture or in an open stable.

Mineral pellet
s: Pellets are the most common form of mineral feed for horses. These can simply be mixed with the horse's concentrated feed. A measuring cup and feeding instructions are usually included with the product.

Mineral powder
: Like the mineral pellets, the mineral powder can simply be mixed into the concentrated feed. Here, too, it must be weighed or measured. However, many horses like to sort out in the trough. Especially with powder, it is difficult to ensure that the horse eats all of the powder. Therefore, it is advisable to use bars for fussy horses.

Lucerne - what is it actually?

Lucerne has been used in horse feed for many years. But what is behind this plant?

Today, Lucerne is experiencing a real HYPE in the feeding of horses. Almost every horse owner feeds his horse Lucerne. Lucerne is an overwintering, perennial plant from the genus snail clover with a height of up to one metre. The flowering period is between June and September.

Advantages of Lucerne:

  • little sugar and strength = low energy content
  • Suitable for stomach sensitive horses Due to the structure, the horse stores the Lucerne more intensively
  • Much calcium and little phosphorus
  • Provides important protein z. B. in bad hay quality

Disadvantages of Lucerne:

  • Potential damages of the gastric mucosa (Lucernehäcksel)
  • inhibits nutrient intake of the horse
  • for grazing or grass feeding may lead to protein surplus

Basic rules for feeding horses

Finally, here are some simple basic rules that have a positive influence on horse feeding and can generally be applied to any horse.

1. Roughage always before concentrate

As already mentioned, roughage is the basis of horse feeding. Horses that are only ridden or exercised moderately or not at all, roughage is usually often sufficient.

2. Feed hay from hay nets/hayracks

The slower feed intake means that your horse will not have to take long breaks from eating.

3. Drink

Make sure your horse drinks enough fluids. Your horse should always have free access to clean and fresh drinking water!

4. Feeding troughs

Make sure that the troughs are always clean and that no bacteria can settle there and spread.

5. Feed small portions

Divide the daily amount of food for your horse into several portions. The horse's stomach is comparatively small and should not be overloaded with too large portions.

6. Energy requirements

If your horse needs more energy, e.g. during the change of coat, please do not increase the amount of concentrated feed, but add a dash of oil to the feed. Oil is a high quality energy source and is easier to digest than concentrated feed. Linseed oil, sunflower oil or rapeseed oil are suitable.

7. Time and peace to eat

Give your horse enough time and rest to eat so that it does not have to gorge. It is recommended to feed the hay portion first and the concentrated feed some time later. This way, the horses already have something in their stomachs and do not eat the concentrated feed so greedily.

8. Storing feed

Feed bins are an excellent way to store feed. They keep the feed dry and cool.

Horse feeding is a super complex subject. Horse feeding should therefore be individually adapted to each horse. Various factors such as the horse's state of health, age, type of husbandry and stress always play a decisive role. If you are unsure about feeding, feed experts can give you advice and support.