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Equine Vet J Suppl. 1999 Apr;(28):46-54.

Review of equine feeding and stable management practices in the UK concentrating on the last decade of the 20th century.

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WALTHAM Centre for Pet Nutrition, Waltham-on-the-Wolds, Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire, UK.


Equine feeding and stable management practices for horses kept in the UK vary greatly and it is probable that almost any permutation of regimen could be found somewhere. Unfortunately, there is uncertainty about the number of horses in the UK and very limited data are available on the ways horses are being fed and managed. This paper reviews some of the information that is available and provides an outline of some of the factors influencing the practices used. To a certain extent, the way UK horses are fed and managed primarily reflects the purpose for which they are kept (e.g. racing Thoroughbred vs. native breeding pony) as well as their location (urban vs. rural); the time of year; their breed/age as well as the owner's financial situation. In very general terms, the various ways that horses can be kept and managed fall between 2 extremes: the professional riders/owners/trainers who tend to keep horses and ponies either in large barns/stable yards managed by themselves or a head stable person and the more amateur competitor/leisure riders who tend to keep their horses at a livery yard or at their own or a friend's home. Many of these animals are kept under either part or full do-it-yourself (DIY) conditions. Common feeding practices range from feeding traditional home cereal-based mixes to feeding coarse mixes/pelleted compound manufactured feeds. Very few people, however, feed just a simple single grain or compound feed plus roughage diet. Many add other separate feeding stuffs and supplements including soaked sugar beet or straight molasses, primarily as palatability enhancers. Other common additions include cod liver oil, various types of vegetable oil, carrots, one or more vitamin/mineral mixes, herbal mixes and certain agents with ergogenic/performance-enhancing claims. Especially for horses used for competition purposes, provision of supplementary salt is common either by means of a salt block or lick or as an addition to the feed. The soaking of hay, for a variable time period, is another common practice. Although the type and amount of feed fed fundamentally varies according to the work load of the horse there tends to be marked seasonal variations in feeding practices due to the weather and the availability of pasture.

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