What do miniature horses eat?
Grasses and grains are the natural food of the miniature horse. Mini horses can survive on lush grass and make excellent lawn mowers, and hay is a suitable substitute when grass is not available. A small quantity of crimped oats completes the daily nutritional regimen. In addition, miniature horses should have access to a daily source of free choice salt and trace minerals. An easy way to provide this is to provide the miniature horse with free access to a brick of plain salt and a brick of trace mineral salt.
Miniature horses should always have access to clean cool water. It should also be noted that all miniature horses possess a sweet-tooth, and are fond of apples, candy, soda and breakfast cereal. The owner must be very careful not to overfeed their miniature horse or to feed them too many treats.
A veterinarian should be consulted to determine the exact nutritional needs of each individual horse.
Miniature horses have very similar dietary requirements to those of their larger cousins. They consume mostly hay, grass and grains, but they eat much less than a full-size horse. Miniature horses are also more susceptible to some diet-related diseases than larger types. A well planned diet should keep your miniature horse healthy and in good condition.
- For maintenance feeding, allow your horse access to quality pasture. When pasture is not available, offer hay, preferably alfalfa mixed with lower protein grass hays. Supplement with grains, like oats or barley. Grain should not make up more than ten percent of a maintenance diet.Make sure that salt blocks are available at all times and provide an extra teaspoon of loose salt in hot weather or when your horse has been working. Some minis may benefit from a mineral balancing supplement, such as Equivit, during the winter months and when there is no access to pasture.
- Horses you intend to show will require a small percentage of hard feed and less forage to prevent “hay belly.” The safest grain is oats, though corn and barley may also be used. Pre-mixed feed is convenient, but you should check vitamin and mineral percentages. Choose around 400 to 650 grams of oats or premixed feed for a mini you intend to show and allow your horse to forage for the rest of its diet. Always provide at least 1 percemt of the horse’s body weight in roughage to prevent intestinal problems. Horses you intend to show can receive up to one-quarter cup of fat supplementation (vegetable oils or a commercial supplement) to improve the coat.
- When miniature horses perform as riding or harness horses for very light loads. they require additional feed. Provide these horses with one to one and a half kilograms of grain or premixed feed and one to two kilograms of forage per day. They may also benefit from fat supplements and vitamin supplements, which provide extra energy.
- Breeding puts special pressures on a miniature horse. Support your horse by choosing a commercial breeding feed made for large breeds. Feed quantities according to the recommended number of grams per kilogram of body weight. Provide weanlings and young horses with balancer supplements to get them used to feed and prevent weight loss.
- Like many breeds of ponies, miniature horses have very efficient metabolisms. They may appear to eat very little, even for their small size. This, plus their cuteness, leads many owners to offer their minis extra treats. Obesity is no better for horses than it is for humans, so check the condition and weight of your miniature horse regularly. Adjust your horse’s diet accordingly.Restrict grazing on new spring growth to prevent a feed imbalance that could result in founder or laminitis. House your miniature horse in a yard or stall for a short period of time each day, partition the pasture into small sections, or use a restrictive muzzle to limit grazing.