There are several methods for feeding and watering horses and you will find the ones that suit you and your horse. Every horse and owner is different and you must not feel you have to follow a certain pattern if it does not suit you both. It is your responsibility as the owner to provide food and water, so use the method that is best for you both.
In the summer most horses will be kept out at grass where they will graze almost constantly. In this case there will be no need for additional hay. If your horse/pony is prone to Laminitis you must limit the grass supply.
When the horse is in his stable you will need to provide a constant supply of hay from a correctly hung hay net, on the floor or from a manger. If there is a need to provide hay in the field there must be enough piles or nets for each horse, plus a spare, this reduces the risk of fighting and bullying.
During the winter hay must be available at all times, you will need to provide a few wedges from a bale, several times a day. It is probable your horse will need hard feed during the cold winter months, as well as hay. This should be given in a bucket without handles so the horse cannot get his legs caught, over the door buckets or from a manger. If there are several horses in the same field and just one needs to be fed it is important to remove him from the field and tie him up, away from the others.
When several horses are kept together and all need feeding it is best to tie them up at different areas around the field. These practical tips can prevent all sorts of problems for you when horses can become agitated at feed times.
Horses are grazers, they feed little but often. They require a constant supply of hay or feed to keep their digestive system in good order. There are several reasons feeding habits may change. If a horse is out to grass he will not eat so much hay, they are more likely to have filled up on grass. He may not eat so well if he has problems with his teeth or mouth, he may need a more succulent diet. If you do need to change his diet it must be done gradually as sudden changes can cause digestive upset. Stress can have a big impact on the horses feeding habits and can be caused by any small changes in his immediate environment.
It is important to investigate any changes in feeding habits as these changes may be the first signs of serious illness.
Water must also be available at all times whatever the time of year. In the stable this could be from a bucket or an automatic watering system – a self filler. In either case the container must be cleaned well every day. Buckets will need checking and refilling several times a day. Buckets can get kicked over and soak your horses bed. By standing the bucket in an old tyre, this is prevented.
In the field water can be given in a self filling purpose made water trough. If this is not available, buckets without handles can be used or a practical solution is an old bath once the taps have been removed, as long as there are no sharp edges or handles.
Water should be checked at least twice a day to ensure a good suply and to remove and floating debris.