Natural Horse Management and Feeding 


 General Notes on Feeding


To be able to provide the horse an optimum diet it is necessary to look at its original feeding habits. Horses are generalist browsers. The bulk of the diet comprised of roughage ie a variety of pasture grasses, weeds and pickings from shrubs and trees. Concentrates were eaten only when available as seed heads formed. They browsed in herds with one horse keeping sentry duty in turns when the others had REM sleep which lasts around 30 minutes at a time. Changes to diet were gradual and dictated by  how far they moved per day and seasonal changes. Horses eat for most of the twenty four hour period.

To provide your horse with the ideal grazing conditions you need to look at redesigning you paddocks to emulate to some degree the natural grazing patterns and further to that look at modifying the pasture mix to include low sugar grasses, bitter and aromatic herbs.Notes on pasture mixes can be found on our ‘Articles page’

How Horses Grazed in the Wild

  • Horses are generalist browsers.
  • Diet comprised of roughage ie a variety of plants.


    Chenopodium alba (Fat Hen) has blood sugar lowering properties

  • Concentrates only available as seed heads formed.
  • These seeds provide omega oils encapsulated within the seed wall therefore no oxidation of reactive fatty acids
  • Changes to diet were gradual and dictated by  how far they moved per day
  • Horses eat for most of the twenty four hour period.
  • They had access to a range of trees and shrubs from which they nibbled at bark, leaves and branch

    camellia sinensis

    Camellia sinensis can be grown as part of a hedge row


  • They had access to natural plant vermifuges that controlled parasites.
wormwood small

Wormwood is a natural vermifuge

  • They did not graze over parasite infested pastures or areas that contained fresh droppings.

 Recommended Diet

It is suggested that you take your horse off all proprietary feeds while your horse is being treated for degenerative conditions, allergies, cancer, arthritis

It is essential that you eliminate all refined oils from the diet as they are pro-inflammatory. Omega Oils should be stored in glass in a cool dark place and used within 2 months of opening.

That you take care not to over load the system with too many concentrates or protein.


Note: Quantities will need to be adjusted to suit individual horse.

  • Unlimited access to Meadow Hay,
  • Either boiled or freshly crushed barley. One ice cream container
  • Oaten chaff half a bucket.
  • Oats if your horse does not heat up. 2-3 cups
  • 100-200grams of Meadow Muesli
  • Unlimited access to Rock salt
  • Kelp half to one cup.
  • 3-4 tea bags of Green Tea.
  • 15ml of an Omega Oil Complex.
  •  Tablespoon of Rosehip granules
  • Half a cup of millet.
  • Half a cup of chicory roots


  • One cup each of stinging nettle, cleavers and dandelion cover with boiling water and add to feed .
  • Freshly sprouted legumes and wheat which act as natural chelators.



Notes in this table have been taken from a number of sources to include seminars, forums and personal research

Basic   Dietary Requirements Percentage   Description
Cellulose/ fibre 70% to 80% This includes soluble and insoluble   fibre. Soluble fibre increases bulk and water absorption in the colon.  Forage as dry matter, hay oaten chaff etc
Carbohydrates/or NSC 10% to 20% Grains. High in starch and sugars linked   with hot excitable behaviour. Muscle problems in susceptible horses.   Development of OCD in youngsters
Protein 10% by weight Excessive intake: potential problems ie   increased water requirements, urea in blood and gut increase, ammonia, heat   production. Pastures with clover and legumes provide protein as does soya   meal.
Supplements Less than 5% of total ration Check that you are not double dosing with   premixed feeds ie selenium, more oil in the diet needs more vitamin e, B   vitmins needed when the hind gut doesn’t work (brewers yeast good for this.   Minimum levels not always known, safety not always established. Some are   prohibited substances
Vitamins and minerals We can over supplement with minerals. If   your horse had poor hooves then biotin is needed
Supplements to alter behaviour Thiamine   /B1( only if the hind gut doesn’t work , Tryptophan (can make some horses more   excitable) Magnesium Important in   spring and autumn when magnesium levels are low in pasture. Omega oils only to be given   separatately at the time of feeding, added omega oils at time of manufacture   create trans fats.
Alternative Energry Sources
  • Fermented forages
  • Other sources of digestible fibres , branches and bark, coarse seed hulls, stalky seed heads
Fat in the Diet
  • Typical hay +grain diet less than 3%
  • Fat supplemented diet more than 10% up to 25% dietary energy
  • Fat fortified feeds and fat supplements ie vegetable oils, Ideally coconut oil half a cup daily.


High fat high Fibre diet 10% -15 % dietary energy
  • Controlled studies showed show that diet higher in fats seems to be protective against damage to genetic damage which in turn protects against cancers.
  • Fats appear to lower muscle damage through micro-inflammation.
  • Fats also lower the GI levels providing a slower release of energy
  • Calms horses especially when omega oils are also added
  • Reduced stress response
  • Lower heart rates
  • More settled and trainable
  • Lower resting heart rate
  • Less muscle damage
  • Enhanced aerobic and anaerobic performance
  • Delay in onset of fatigue

Herbs  are effective but should not be   given in conjunction with  veterinary   medication

Chamomile dried small

Chamomile flowers

Valerian root small



  • Many have drug-like actions and contain prohibited substances     ie valerian, white willow bark, meadowsweet, ephedrine
  • May interact with other medications and/ dietary compounds

Hira Laboratories will accept no responsibility for the application of any of the enclosed information in practice nor will accept any responsibility for the use or misuse of any of the products listed in this site. The information on this website is conveyed in good faith therefore no warranties expressed or implied are made.



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