Natural Horse Management and Feeding 


 General Notes on Feeding


To be able to provide the horse an optimum diet it is necessary to look at its original feeding habits. Horses are generalist browsers. The bulk of the diet comprised of roughage ie a variety of pasture grasses, weeds and pickings from shrubs and trees. Concentrates were eaten only when available as seed heads formed. They browsed in herds with one horse keeping sentry duty in turns when the others had REM sleep which lasts around 30 minutes at a time. Changes to diet were gradual and dictated by  how far they moved per day and seasonal changes. Horses eat for most of the twenty four hour period.

To provide your horse with the ideal grazing conditions you need to look at redesigning you paddocks to emulate to some degree the natural grazing patterns and further to that look at modifying the pasture mix to include low sugar grasses, bitter and aromatic herbs.Notes on pasture mixes can be found on our ‘Articles page’

How Horses Grazed in the Wild

  • Horses are generalist browsers.
  • Diet comprised of roughage ie a variety of plants.
  • Concentrates only available as seed heads formed.
  • These seeds provide omega oils encapsulated within the seed wall therefore no oxidation of reactive fatty acids.
  • Changes to diet were gradual and dictated by  how far they moved per day.
  • Horses eat for most of the twenty four hour period.
  • They had access to a range of trees and shrubs from which they nibbled at bark, leaves and branch

    camellia sinensis

    Camellia sinensis can be grown as part of a hedge row

  • They had access to natural plant vermifuges that controlled parasites.
  • They did not graze over parasite infested pastures or areas that contained fresh droppings.

 Recommended Diet

It is suggested that you take your horse off all processed feeds while your horse is being treated for any degenerative conditions, allergies, cancer, arthritis etc

Look at eliminating refined oils from the diet in particular those added at time of manufacture. Omega Oils should be stored in glass in a cool dark place, used within 2 months of opening and only added to feed at the time of feeding.

That you take care not to over load the system with too many concentrates, NSC or protein.


Some suggestions :

Towards a more sustainable method of feeding, mixing your own feeds using ‘simples’ and starting to make a few changes to the pasture and surrounding environment, here are some suggestions.

Example one.

A typical winter feed for a horse in moderate work

  • Unlimited access to Meadow Hay. If your horses present with respiratory problems soak it well prior to feeding.
  • Either boiled or freshly crushed barley. One ice cream container depending on size of horse. If your horse heats up on barley replace barely with boiled brown rice.
  • For those horses that don’t get heated up on oats 2-3 cups daily fed over 3 feeds in a day.
  • Half a cup of flax seeds either freshly ground daily (these cannot be stored except in a sealed container in a freezer) or boiled slowly along with the barley or rice.
  • Half a cup of soaked or better still sprouted, fenugreek. Fenugreek will help protect the non glandular part of the stomach  and digestive tract with its mucilaginous properties. It is a fattening feed without heating.
  • Add the above to a 20 litre bucket of Oaten chaff and/or 50/50 lucerne and oaten chaff,
  • For additional fibre and filler that will help feed the hindgut copra is OK provided it has not been sprayed within 6 weeks of harvest.
  • Beet products can be used but make sure it is not GMO and you are sure that the crop has not been sprayed in the last 6 weeks prior to harvest.
  • Half a cup of coconut oil mixed with turmeric and grated over feed. See recipe on our ulcer page
  • 1 tablespoon of sodium chloride (plain table salt). This will counteract any excessive levels of potassium found in some pastures.

Optional Extras

  • 3-4 tea bags of Green Tea.
  • 15ml of an Omega Oil Complex.
  • 20ml daily of a liquid magnesium product like Anti Al MAG


  • One cup each of stinging nettle, cleavers and dandelion cover with boiling water and add to feed .
  • Freshly sprouted legumes and wheat which act as natural chelators.



Notes in this table have been taken from a number of sources to include seminars, forums and personal research

Basic   Dietary Requirements Percentage   Description
Cellulose/ fibre 70% to 80% This includes soluble and insoluble   fibre. Soluble fibre increases bulk and water absorption in the colon.  Forage as dry matter, hay oaten chaff etc. Cellulose is digested by the cecum to maintain body heat and metabolic functions. More information on cellulose and what it is broken into can be found on our page on gutflora and digestion
Carbohydrates/or NSC 10% to 20% Grains. High in starch and sugars linked  with hot excitable behaviour, changes to the endocrine system along with changes in pH to the hind gut leading to laminitis. Muscle problems in susceptible horses.   Development of OCD in youngsters
Protein 10% by weight Excessive intake: potential problems ie   increased water requirements, urea in blood and gut increase, ammonia, heat   production. Pastures with clover and legumes provide protein as does soya  meal. Caution required in feeding soya products to check that they are not GMO.
Supplements Less than 5% of total ration Check that you are not double dosing with   premixed feeds ie selenium, more oil in the diet needs more vitamin e, B   vitamins needed when the hind gut doesn’t work (brewers yeast good for this.   Minimum levels not always known, safety not always established. Some are   prohibited substances. Be careful with premixed feeds that have had selenium added to prevent double dosing and the development of irreversible selenosis.Thiamine   /B1( only if the hind gut doesn’t work , Tryptophan (can make some horses more   excitable)
Vitamins and minerals

Caution is required in supplementing with minerals in the correct ratios. This diagram illustrates the interrelationship between each of the minerals ie Calcium (Ca) with Magnesium (Mg) Potassium (K) with Sodium (Na)  Iron (Fe) with Copper (Cu) and Zinc. The two most commonly and generally safely administered mineral are Magnesium and Sodium chloride. Much of the problem with poorly balanced minerals lie with soil composition, its parent rock, the pH and the levels and biodiversity of the soil biome.



Supplements to alter behaviour. These include herbs

Chamomile dried small

chamomile flowers

Valerian root small

valerian root

Vitex agnus

passion flower




Herbs  are effective in altering neuro responses but should not be  given in conjunction with veterinary  medication.

  • Many have drug-like actions and contain prohibited substances    ie valerian, white willow bark, meadowsweet, ephedrine
  • May interact with other medications and/ dietary compounds.
  • Chamomile helps calm the digestive system and it can be given as a dry mix or as an extract.
  • Valerian is an effective natural sedative and may be given when required to help settle the horse.
  • Vitex agnus may be used for endocrine issues, adrenal reactivity, elevated cortisol levels and anxiety.
  • Passion flower acts on the GABA levels and helps calm the horse





Alternative Energy Sources
  • Fermented forages
  • Other sources of digestible fibres , branches and bark, coarse seed hulls, stalky seed heads.
  • Naturally occurring forage species that can be designed into the equine environment to include immune plants shade trees and specialty shelter-belts and hedges
Fat in the Diet
  • Fats and lipids are an essential part of a horse’s diet though care needs to be taken to keep the ratios correct.
  • Typical hay +grain diet give less than 3%
  • While fats occur naturally in seeds which horses will forage, they can be added to the horse’s feed. Coconut fat is one of the very best to add to the feed and can be added grated over feed. The ulcer recipe can be modified by omitting the sodium bicarbonate. Half a cup of this blend once refrigerated can be grated and easily mixed into you horse’s feed.
  • Avoid fat fortified feeds that have polyunsaturated oils or worse omega oils added. The manufacturing process will destroy these sensitive oils and create pro-inflammatory transfats.
  • Omega oils are naturally found in whole seeds and the oil is protected by the seed coat. Once this is broken oxidation tales place.


High fat high Fibre diet 8% -10 % dietary energy
  • Controlled studies showed show that diet higher in fats seems to be protective against damage to genetic damage which in turn protects against cancers.
  • Fats appear to lower muscle damage through micro-inflammation.
  • Fats also lower the GI levels providing a slower release of energy
  • Calms horses especially when omega oils are also added
  • Reduced stress response
  • Lower heart rates
  • More settled and trainable
  • Lower resting heart rate
  • Less muscle damage
  • Enhanced aerobic and anaerobic performance
  • Delay in onset of fatigue




Hira Laboratories will accept no responsibility for the application of any of the enclosed information in practice nor will accept any responsibility for the use or misuse of any of the products listed in this site. The information on this website is conveyed in good faith therefore no warranties expressed or implied are made.



Copyright © Dandelion by Pexeto
Seo wordpress plugin by www.seowizard.org.