If you are looking for a horse that is both friendly and easy to train, then miniature horses are the answer for you. At my stable, I love seeing kids fall in love with miniature horses. They are great options for kids who are first learning how to ride. They are docile, happy, and love other people and horses. At the same time, you have to make sure that you take care of them by providing them with a proper diet. Does this include grass? There are a few key tips to keep in mind.
Miniature horses can absolutely eat grass. They should eat grass on a regular basis; however, their diet should also include alfalfa, hay, and other nutrients.
Grass is a Part of a Well-Balanced Diet
While miniature horses can eat grass, there are numerous other foods that miniature horses should be eating as well. The basis of every horse’s diet, including that of miniature horses, is hay. Hay, also called forage, should be 50 percent of the miniature horse’s total intake every day. Another great rule of thumb to follow is that your miniature horse should be eating one percent of its body weight every day in hay or forage.
The good news is that many companies and people who provide horse feed will offer you a complete mixture with all of the foods that your horse needs to have a healthy, well-balanced diet. This should include grass, alfalfa, hay, and more. The quality of the feed is dependent on how the hay is harvested, so be sure to talk to other stables and see which providers offer the best food.
At our stable, we have a provider that we use who tailors all of our mixtures to meet the age and purpose of our horses. We have a long relationship with them and they are responsible for the quality of the horses that we provide. It took us a while to find a provider we trust, but once we did, we found that this was a major stress relief.
When it comes to miniature horses specifically, the average mini weighs about 200 pounds. This means that he or she should eat between two and four bounds of forage per day. Some of the tips to keep in mind include:
- Look for a fine, soft, leafy hay.
- Try to stay away from coarse, mature hay.
- Feed your miniature horse at least one-third to one-half of a flake of solid, high-quality, tasty grass or alfalfa-grass combined with hay two times per day.
- As you divide the flake, place it over the feed pan. That way, any chaff falls into the feed pan itself. You want to save the chaff because it is high in protein. This is an important part of the feeding plan.
- Finally, never place the feed on the ground. This will lead to excessive sand and dirt intake which will lead to colic.
If you find that your miniature horse is overweight, then you need to place a grazing muzzle on him or her. This will reduce the chances that he or she overeats grass. Yes, it is possible for miniature horses to eat too much grass. This could irritate the digestive tract, lead to weight problems, and make it so that your horse is too hungry to eat other nutrients. At the same time, too little grass could to a different type of digestive tract issue called laminitis.
What About Grain?
While forage and grass are incredibly important for your miniature horse, they also need to have grain. Grain mix, also called concentrate, is often need to supplement their energy requirements. In addition, grain also provides numerous other proteins, vitamins, and minerals they need to remain happy and healthy.
As you are looking for a concentrate, you need to make sure that it is meant for your horse’s age, workload, and production status. For example, if your miniature horses are more active than your other horses, then they might need more grain to provide them with the energy they need to keep up with their demands.
On the other hand, if your miniature horses spend most of their time sitting in a stable, then they might not need the same grain mix.
In general, an adult horse should have about 12 percent protein in their diet. Protein usually comes from forage and grain. On the other hand, yearlings may need as much as 4 percent protein.
Remember that miniature horses are much smaller than other horses. Therefore, it is easy to feed miniature horses too much grain. If you provide too much grain to your miniature horses, then this could lead to colic. Colic develops when miniature horses eat too much grain, leading to fermentation, gas, and carb overload. This can lead to major digestive issues.
When you are looking to provide your miniature horses with grain, keep in mind that grain needs to be fed by weight, not volume. As a result, you should weigh your grain on a scale and make sure that you tally exactly how much grain each miniature horse is eating.
The average miniature horse should not require more than one pound of grain divided into two separate feedings per day.
Provide Plenty of Water
One of the most commonly overlooked nutrients that is important for all miniature horses is water. All miniature horses need to have access to clean, freshwater.
The water should not be too hot or too cold. If the temperature of the water is too extreme, your miniature horses might not want to drink it, which could lead to dehydration. Keep the temperature of the water between 45 and 65 degrees F.
In general, miniature horses should be provided with at least five gallons of freshwater every day. If the bucket is empty, refill it. Similar to people, the amount of water that miniature horses drink will vary markedly with their exertion and weather conditions.
If the miniature horse exercises more or spends a prolonged amount of time in the sun, then his or her water consumption is going to increase. Provide your miniature horses with enough water to keep up with their demands.
Tips To Keep in Mind
Finally, there are a few solid nutrition tips that you should follow when it comes to your miniature horses. These include:
- Make sure that you put your hands on your horse’s body on a weekly basis. This is particularly true during the winter. Make sure that he or she is not getting too fat or too thin. If this is the case, then you might need to adjust the diet of your miniature horses.
- Next, make sure that your miniature horses are provided with solid, high-quality hay at least twice per day. This should include grass and alfalfa.
- Make sure that your miniature horses have access to grain and pellet feeds as well. Adult horses should have 12 percent protein and younger horses should have 14 percent protein. This is necessary to keep the body condition of your horses in the right range.
- Think about including trace mineral salt throughout the year to keep your horse’s digestive tract healthy. This will prevent the development of colic, which can develop due to excess gas and intestinal inflammation.
- All miniature horses need to have access to a solid dental program. Similar to people, horses need to have their teeth checked regularly. The recommendation is once per year for adult horses and more frequently for foals. Horses can develop sharp points on their teeth, abscesses, and other issues that could lead to dental irritation.
- Finally, work with a vet to design a parasite control program. This will prevent miniature horses from developing an infection.
These are a few of the most important tips that all owners of miniature horses need to follow. In order to make sure that miniature horses are happy and healthy, they need to have access to the right diet as well as proper healthcare.
Making sure that miniature horses have the right balance of protein, carbs, and minerals will ensure that they are able to live a long, happy, and healthy life. We work hard at our stable to make sure that our miniature horses have all of their needs met. They repay us with unconditional love, their friendly nature, and solid riding experience.