Tips for Feeding Horses in a Group

Does your herd leader get too much to eat while the low man doesn’t get enough? Here’s our expert’s advice.
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Tips for Feeding Horses in Groups
Managing horses in groups has numerous benefits for their behavioral health; however, it has its own set of management challenges. | Photo: iStock

Q. My horses are happiest living together as a herd, and as an at-home horse keeper, I’m always looking for ways to keep my horse chores easy and efficient. My “boss” horse at feeding time is also my easiest keeper, so he carries extra weight while the others are a little leaner than I’d like. Do you have any tips or tricks you could offer about feeding horses in group situations, and can you recommend one kind of feed is best for horses of varying ages and activity levels?

M.B., via email

A. Managing horses in groups has numerous benefits for their behavioral health. However, as you have found, it has its own set of management challenges. I would recommend initially spending some time observing your horses at feeding time to see how they interact, what the pecking order is, and how long they each take to eat. This will give you some data to work with to develop a management plan

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Clair Thunes, PhD, is an equine nutritionist who owns Clarity Equine Nutrition, based in Gilbert, Arizona. She works as a consultant with owners/trainers and veterinarians across the United States and globally to take the guesswork out of feeding horses and provides services to select companies. As a nutritionist she works with all equids, from WEG competitors to Miniature donkeys and everything in between. Born in England, she earned her undergraduate degree at Edinburgh University, in Scotland, and her master’s and doctorate in nutrition at the University of California, Davis. Growing up, she competed in a wide array of disciplines and was an active member of the U.K. Pony Club. Today, she serves as the district commissioner for the Salt River Pony Club.

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