The measurements, ratios, and percentages involved in constructing a horse’s diet can make the average horse owner’s head spin. But it’s not to be overlooked; appropriate nutrition is vital to equine health.

Results from several studies have suggested that many owners aren’t feeding their horses properly, primarily due to a simple lack of nutrition knowledge. To verify this, Holly Coward, BSc (hons) Equine Sports Science, at Hartpury College in Gloucester, U.K., surveyed a population of British horse owners who are their horses’ sole caretakers to determine their level of equine nutrition knowledge and feeding practices. Victoria Lewis, MSc, program manager of equestrian sport science at Hartpury College shared the study results at the 11th International Society of Equitation Science Conference, held Aug. 6-9 in Vancouver, British Columbia.

“The objectives were to find out the extent of the horse owner’s equestrian experience, their use of the rule of feeding as outlined by the British Horse Society, whether they are members of any equestrian organizations, their knowledge of some key aspects of basic equine nutrition which includes the nutritional value of feeds, and if there are any relationships between nutrition knowledge and the other three variables,” Lewis said.

She gathered 306 completed surveys. The mean score among them was a 13 (52%) out of a possible 25 points. Important findings included:

  • There was no correlation between the owners’ horse experience and their nutrition knowledge;
  • Owners that provided their horses with free access to hay had higher average