Feeding your horse
Horses are natural grazers, and tend to eat lots of grass slowly throughout the day - usually for about 18 out of 24 hours! It's the constant passage of food through their system that keeps them healthy, providing all the nutrition needed for bone growth, muscle strength and a good coat.
What to feed your horse
Your horse's diet will depend on how much work they do and their living conditions - if they are outside most of the time, which is ideal, then fresh pasture is perfect, allowing them to stick to their natural feeding pattern, If they need to be inside for any reason, however, you should ensure they still have a constant supply of fibre to eat throughout the day, such as hay.
As well as roughage like grass or hay, which should always be accessible, you can also feed your horse treats like apples and carrots. Don't feed these whole, as this can cause a choking hazard - slice a carrot lengthways, and quarter apples. One a day will add moisture to the feed and keep your horse interested in its food. You should also make sure your horse has constant access to fresh water.
Depending on the type of work your horse is doing, you may consider looking at extra vitamins or supplements. Have a chat with a vet for advice and help determining what your horse needs, or if you have any questions at all about feeding your horse.
When to feed your horse
Your horse's natural feeding pattern will mean that they need access to fibre for the majority of the day to keep the digestive system healthy - they're also creatures of habit, so make sure you get into a routine of when you make food available. Try to avoid feeding them directly before doing any fast work with your horse, as they might be a little sluggish and less likely to perform, and may even develop a painful and serious condition called Azoturia. Always feed according to the amount of work done as over-feeding can cause behaviour problems and obesity.
If you need to change your horse's diet, make sure you do so slowly, introducing a little of the new food into the old food over a period of several days. This will give your horse time to adjust, and make it easier for them to get the most out of the new feed!