Work Level and Feeding Horses
Q. Many grains’ and concentrates’ recommended feeding rate is amount is based on the horse’s body weight and how much work he is getting: light, moderate, or heavy. I’ve found online resources for how to calculate body weight but not to determine work level. How do I accurately determine my horse’s work level?
A. Work level can be a hard thing to judge accurately. As a starting point I recommend you consider what a typical week looks like for your horse. This should include both the work your horse does and also how he’s housed. Is your horse at pasture 24 hours a, day 7 days a week, or is he in a stall? Perhaps he’s out part time. A horse that’s stalled at all times but hacked out every day at the walk with little trot or longed for a short period is likely only expending the same amount of energy as a horse that lives out 24 hours a day and without additional work. You should categorize this as “no work” and feed the maintenance requirement.
Once a horse is in more strenuous forced work, he’ll likely considered be in light work or more. While the amount we ride each day can vary quite a lot, I find that over the course of a week a consistent pattern will exist. How many days a week do you get your horse out and what do those outings consist of? Are you getting your horse out and working him solidly for almost an hour each time while staying mostly in the trot and canter? If so, then your horse might be in heavy work. If you only do this two or three times a week, and in between you hack out at the walk or longe for 20 to 30 minutes, then your horse might be closer to moderate
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