Adjusting your horse feeding routine

The weather is finally being more normal for south, central Texas and we are having highs in the low to mid nineties. Not only are the days less hot but the nights are cooler and the heat does not start so early in the morning. Many people who stopped riding during the extreme heat are starting to get back in the saddle.

I stopped riding in July but started back in early August when it did not look like we were going to get any breaks and the horses started acting more acclimated to the heat. I kept my riding sessions short and focused more on strength building and balance than endurance. Now I am starting to ask for more endurance and extending the length of the sessions.

I am making some adjustments in my horse feeding routine as the work gets harder. Even with the lower temperatures the humidity is fluctuating between very high and very low. I am giving electrolytes on the days I ride and increasing the low starch feed my horses get. I don’t want the horses losing weight going into the winter. I also want to make sure they drink well even with the cooler nights.

I don’t give electrolytes year round or even everyday in the summer if the horses are not in work. I do give them on days when the weather is very dry or if I ever see the manure getting too dry regardless of the weather. I know sometimes I forget to drink enough on a low humidity day and I think the horses are the same. Electrolytes can be important on a dry winter day as well even if the weather is cold.

It is important to give the electrolytes before hard work so they can help hold water in the system and encourage drinking before dehydration occurs. If you feel your horse has already become dehydrated it is better to add a small amount of electrolytes to some moistened feed such as bran mash or beet pulp. Don’t feed any hay until your horse is drinking water or has moist manure.

Paying attention and making horse feeding adjustments before a problem happens is the best plan. Enjoy your riding if you live in central Texas. We have just survived the hottest summer on record. Madalyn

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