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  • Seasonal Adjustments in Equine Nutrition

    May 16, 2024 4 min read

    Seasonal Adjustments in Equine Nutrition

    As horse owners, it's imperative to recognise that our horse’s dietary needs fluctuate with the changing seasons. Just as we adapt our own diets to weather patterns, so too must we tailor our horses' nutrition to ensure their health and well-being. Failure to do so may result in an overweight or underweight horse. Understanding these seasonal adjustments is crucial for maintaining optimal equine health year-round. In this article, we will focus on what horse owners should be aware of in each season to ensure the optimum health of their horse.


    With the arrival of spring, our horses emerge from the winter months with renewed energy and vigor. As the days lengthen and temperatures rise, it's essential to adjust their diet accordingly. Spring grass, lush and rich in nutrients, becomes readily available, offering a natural source of vitamins and minerals. However, sudden access to abundant pasture can increase the risk of digestive issues such as colic and laminitis.

    To mitigate these risks, gradually introduce your horse to spring pasture, allowing their digestive system time to adapt. Monitor their grazing time and consider using a grazing muzzle to limit intake, particularly for those prone to weight gain or metabolic issues. Supplementing with hay or low-starch feeds can help balance their diet and provide essential nutrients while they transition to fresh pasture.


    The summer months bring warmth and sunshine, but also potential challenges for equine nutrition. Increased heat and humidity can lead to dehydration and electrolyte imbalances, especially for horses engaged in strenuous activity. Hydration is paramount during this time, so ensure your horse has constant access to clean, fresh water.

    Incorporate electrolyte supplements into their diet, particularly for horses sweating heavily through exercise or in hot, humid climates. Electrolytes replenish essential minerals lost through sweat, helping to maintain proper hydration and muscle function. If your horse has access to irrigated warm season grasses, it is essential that their grazing habits are monitored to prevent overconsumption of lush summer grasses, which can contribute to obesity and metabolic issues. However, if your horse has no access to irrigated pasture, then our long, hot summers will often result in little to no pasture pick. If this is the case, ensure your horse has free access to good quality hay to prevent any digestive issues and to ensure adequate fibre intake.


    As summer fades into autumn, the cooler temperatures bring changes in both the environment and your horse's nutritional needs. Pastures may start to grow, offering more lush grazing, while the approach of winter prompts horses to begin growing thicker coats in preparation for colder weather. Adjustments in diet are crucial during this transitional period.

    Gradually increase grazing time as pasture quality improves, supplementing with additional hay to ensure your horse receives adequate fibre and nutrients, but to also limit them seeking out new shoots and inadvertently ingesting sand. Consider adjusting their feed to include higher levels of fat and protein to support coat health and condition. This is also an opportune time to assess your horse's weight and body condition, making any necessary adjustments to their diet to prevent weight gain or loss heading into winter.

    Further, it is also important to consider that first rains will bring our new shoots, and our horses love new shoots. Unfortunately, this may aslo mean that they pick up sand. So, a sand prevention regime is needed to prevent colic, whether this be a routine drench with your vet, or a monthly psyllium husk feed, such as Sand Flush. 


    The chill of winter brings its own set of challenges for equine nutrition, as horses must contend with colder temperatures and potentially limited access to fresh forage. Adequate calorie intake becomes paramount to maintain body condition and provide warmth during the colder months.

    Increase your horse's hay ration to compensate for the lack of grazing opportunities if on warm season grasses, ensuring they have access to high-quality forage throughout the day and night. Consider supplementing with grain or concentrates as needed to meet their energy requirements, especially for those with higher activity levels or increased metabolic demands.

    Monitor your horse's water intake, as they may be less inclined to drink when water temperatures drop. Providing warm water or using heated water buckets can encourage hydration and prevent issues such as impaction colic. Finally, continue to assess your horse's body condition regularly, adjusting their diet as necessary to keep them healthy and thriving through the winter season.

    Adapting your horse's diet to the changing seasons is essential for their overall health and well-being. By understanding their nutritional needs throughout the year and making appropriate adjustments, you can ensure that your equine companion remains happy, healthy, and ready to tackle whatever the seasons may bring. 

    Whatever the season, we have a range of products available in -store and online to keep your horse in optimum condition. For your convenience, you can order online for delivery anywhere in the Perth Metro area!

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