Hay for Horse Health

Horses with conditions such as muscle or metabolic disease might have special hay needs to stay healthy.

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Hay for Horse Health
Good quality hay is important. When in doubt, work with your veterinarian or nutritionist and send your hay in for an analysis. | Photo: iStock

Horses with conditions such as muscle or metabolic disease might have special hay needs to stay healthy.

Hay. It’s an essential part of a horse’s diet, fueling the equine body and equipping it for optimal function with energy, protein, vitamins, and minerals. In fact, we know that for many horses, and especially during certain times of the year, hay becomes the most critical part of the forage diet, which is why we work so hard (and spend so much!) to find and secure quality hay for our horses. It’s also why we’re always scrutinizing, shaking, and smelling flakes of hay before feeding them to our horses.

But great hay can only go so far for horses with certain health conditions—it can even harm them if certain nutrient levels are too high or low. So, what and how much hay do we feed our horses with metabolic or other conditions that diet impacts?

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Written by:

Christy Corp-Minamiji, DVM, practices large animal medicine in Northern California, with particular interests in equine wound management and geriatric equine care. She and her husband have three children, and she writes fiction and creative nonfiction in her spare time.

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