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Answer Exchange

  • Q:

    What should you feed your horse when your trail ride ends up being longer and harder than you expected and the horse gets back to the trailer pretty tired?

  • A:

    There is nothing better for a tired horse than to allow him to graze fresh grass, if it is available. Grass has the benefit of having the right combination of nutrients for energy and a lot of water for rehydration. Letting the horse eat with his head down is also relaxing for the horse and stretches the tired back muscles from carrying the weight of rider or pack. If there is no grass, then hay is the second best. Feeding the hay on the ground and dousing it with water may sneak a little moisture into the horse. Make sure there is fresh water (not too cold) available for the horse. Fiber from the forage in the gut should trigger the thirst response and make the horse want to take a good drink. The fiber and water in the gut form a reservoir of energy and electrolytes for the horse to draw upon to replace what was lost during the long trail ride. Once the horse has gotten a belly full of forage, it would be reasonable to offer a small concentrate meal.

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