Environment

Environment

Environment

 

Second in importance to diet for the barefoot horse is environment and exercise.

Feral horses usually live in areas that are unsuitable for humans to farm.

 

 

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Generally the grass cover is sparse, but it has a rich diversity of species. There is also an abundance of herbs and shrubby material to browse.

 

These horses will travel 20 -25 miles every day to find food and water.

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Within a few hours of birth these babies will travel the same distance as the adults, over horse worn tracks - their feet will never get too long.

 

Feet that are too long become imbalanced, contributing to angular limb deformity. Heels that are too high cause the frog and digital cushion to be taken out of their shock absorbing role.

 

Our domestic horses are usually kept on comparitively rich green pastures and it can be hard for us to realise that this grass can actually cause harm.

 

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Modern pasture is sown with grasses (often single species) more suited to the fattening of cattle and sheep - which they do very well. But this isn't what we want for our horses.

 

In years gone by meadows would consist of large numbers of different grass species, along with herbs such as yarrow, dandelion, comfrey, chicory, burnet etc. (We now pay feed companies large amounts of money every year to supply us with these herbs as supplements!).

 

How often does your horse pull your arms nearly out of their sockets to get to a hedgerow or verge to browse on the plants there? Perhaps he is trying to tell you something.

 

Grass in itself is not a problem as such. It is the type and amount, plus the lack of diversity.

 

The worst culprit is spring / autumn grass with its fresh green shoots - especially after rain.

 

Sadly, although our horses love the new sweet shoots, too much can cause real harm with     instances of laminitis, tying up and colic.

 

So what can we do?

 

Go to the next page for some suggestions.

 

 

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