A horse’s diet and the amount he is fed should depend on work requirements and body condition.

Modern horses are often overfed and do very little, if any, work. In fact, we can compare their situation to a person with a desk job who eats like a professional athlete in training. The result will be fat storage and increased risk of metabolic diseases, which, for the horse, can lead to laminitis.

Most idle horses should eat a limited amount of hay or pasture and do not need any grain in their daily diet. If horses are allowed to eat too much, they enter into an anabolic state of metabolism, and store fat. By contrast, when they are burning more calories than they are fed, they are in a catabolic state. An upset in this delicate balance can again put the horse at risk for laminitis.

If your horse’s feed is deficient in essential nutrients, she cannot perform at optimum capacity. Hay that has been cured improperly or stored for a long period of time may be missing essential nutrients that your horse needs for normal metabolism and tissue growth.

So remember to pay close attention to your individual horse’s needs. Monitor weight gain by sight, body condition scoring, equine scales, or a weight tape place around your horse’s girth, and pay close attention to her diet.


Dr. Frank Gravlee graduated from Auburn University School of Medicine and practiced veterinary medicine for several years before attending graduate school at MIT. During a three -year residency in nutritional pathology he received a masters degree in nutritional biochemistry and intermediary metabolism. In 1973, he founded Life Data Labs to determine equine nutritional deficiencies through laboratory testing, and developed individualized feeding programs to correct the deficiencies he discovered. After ten years of research, he launched Farrier’s Formula. www.lifedatalabs.com

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