I bet you’ve heard a lot of these myths around the yard. Usually delivered in a very authoritative voice that you can’t ignore. But some of these are, as Trump would say “fake news” or “alternative facts”.
Horse Feeding Myth #1: Horse feed with a higher % protein is heatening
Protein actually won’t make your horse hot. It is not as easy to digest as carbohydrates are and doesn’t produce a high energy sugar spike in the blood like carbs do. Rather look at the sugar content of your horse’s diet when evaluating it for heatening properties. (Ask any mother about the effects of a diet high in sugar….)
The digestion of a high grain diet with a high percentage of carbohydrates has been shown to cause an increase in the stress hormone, Cortisol. No such increase happens with protein digestion. In fact, certain amino acids (building blocks of protein) have a calming effect.
Horses don’t need a lot of protein in their diet. If fed in too high a quantity, it can be harmful to the kidneys.
Horse Feeding Myth #2: Never water a horse straight after exercise
I grew up believing this to be true. But, in fact, the sooner your horse drinks after exercise, even if he is hot, the better. Cooling him down by walking him first just delays the replenishment of fluids and might make dehydration worse.
Horse Feeding Myth #3: My horse eats dirt because he is lacking in minerals
A study was done in the 1970s where the diets of horses eating dirt were studied. It was found that, even horses with supplemented diets who were in no way lacking in any of the minerals, still ate dirt.
We don’t really know why this behaviour happens. It could be that our horse are simply bored or copying one another. A good supply of high quality forage does seem to stop the behaviour to a large extent.
More Horse Feeding Myths:
If you know of any other myths around, or if you suspect some dodgy advice, send it through to me and I’ll do the research for you. Us horse people have enough stress without having to worry about things that are not true. 😉