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How do you adjust your horse’s diet according to the work you are doing?

We all have different outcomes when riding our horses and although we have the ‘Rules of Feeding which we have covered in a different blog post 10 Golden rules of feeding. its’ a good idea to look at the different adjustments you need to consider when asking your horse or pony to do different types of work.

When you adjust your horse or ponies work you need to adjust what you are feeding them. The total daily weight will remain the same, but as work is gradually increased, so some of the bulk feed (the grass and hay) should be gradually reduced and the concentrates slowly increased.

The concentrates (corn, nuts, and mixes) will depend on the temperament and the needs of the individual horse.  The concentrates are generally needed to supply the extra nutrients needed to build up muscle, to replace worn cells and to supply extra energy.

The idea is that the harder the horse works the greater the percentage of concentrates and in the same way, the work is decreased and the amount of bulk feed should be increased and the concentrates reduced.

The following levels of work can be used as a guide for assessing the needs of your horses or pony.


This is when your horse is able to remain healthy and maintain all bodily functions, such as eating, breathing, keeping warm, growing as summer or winter coat, or repairing any injuries. Any horses or ponies put out on grass for a break from routine work will be living at the maintenance level.

Light Work.

Maintenance plus up to one horse’s hacking daily, mostly walking and trotting.  Very little cantering.

Medium Work.

Maintenance plus an average of one-and-a-half hours hacking daily, with active work which might include cantering, jumping, any schooling, riding club and pony club rallies and competing at shows.

Hard Work.

Maintenance pus final fitness programme for participating in:

Riding club camps, Pony club camps, Polo, Hunting, Regular Mounted games, Team chasing, One-Day horse trials, long distance training and tentpegging.

Very Hard Work.

Maintenance plus preparations for Point-to-Points, Three-Day eventing, and long distance competitions

Graph of Bulk to Contracts for a 14.2 hh

You can use the formula which is weight x 2.5 divided by 100 will give you the total amount of food, hay, and grass that is needed for your horse or pony.  You can also use a weighbridge which will give you the correct weight of your horse.  You can also buy a Weigh Tape which can help you determine your horse’s weight.  These can be a pound or two out.

What you need to remember is that all horses and ponies are individuals and each has a different temperament. If you have enjoyed reading this please feel free to go to our Facebook Page Sam Goss Coaching to keep up with what we are doing.


Thank you.


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