Feeding pony or horse

Feeding pony guidelines

How much hay to feed a horse?

When you feed hay or hayledge it’s important to feed the horse the correct amount.

If you feed the horse, too much he will gain too much weight and hay will be wasted as it will end up on the floor and will get trodden on in the process.

Horses are very fussy, once the hay has been contaminated, they will not eat it.

So to get the balance of hay right you need to know how heavy the horse is first.

You should also consider whether the horse is overweight or underweight.

Feeding pony too little hay, will result in him losing ground.(weight loss)

For more information on this subject click here!

So let’s begin with weighing your horse.

There are a few ways in which you can do this, guessing the weight is not one of them!


You can walk the horse on to a public weighbridge and calculate the weight of both of you, then minus your weight gives you the correct weight of the horse.

The other option is to weigh the horsebox or trailer with the horse in it, then weigh again minus the horse to calculate the weight of the horse.

Some large yards have their own horse weigh bridge. So if you know of a yard that has one, you could ask them to weigh your horse.

Another option is to contact a feed supplier, such as spillers. They will send someone along to your yard, weigh all the horses and give you sound advice.

Weight tape

A weight tape is a special measuring tape, which you can buy online, tack shops or good feed merchant’s stores.

You measure around the girth area back up to just behind the withers so you might need another person to give you a hand as you pass the tape under the belly and up over the other side back to you.

The tape will read off his weight. It's easy and straight forward to use.

So now you know how heavy your horse is, it’s time to look at his condition. This can also affect how much you feed him. Age plays its part too, when it comes to which feed you buy.

If your horse is overweight he is put under a lot of strain when you work him.

He will tire very quickly and his organs such as the heart and lungs will be affected, it is also very difficult to find a saddle that will fit an obese horse.

So what should he look like?

The ribs of a horse should be covered, but easily felt.

The backbone should be well covered but again the spine should be felt.

There should be no gutter or dipping along the back and neck should be firm without a crest.

A deep cavity under the tail and a sunken rump.

A very poor horse

This diagram shows a horse that is very poor.

Very sunken rump

Deep cavity under tail

Skin tight over bones

Very prominent backbone and pelvis

Marked ewe-neck

Poor horse

Sunken rump

Cavity under tail

At the other end of the scale, the underweight horse has visible ribs with a narrow neck, slack or ewe necked.

Prominent backbone and croup

Moderate condition

Flat rump either side of backbone

Ribs just visible

Narrow but firm neck

Backbone well covered

Good condition

Rounded rump

Ribs just covered but easily felt

No crest, firm neck

Fat horse

Well-rounded rump

Gutter along back

Ribs and pelvis hard to feel

Slight crest

A very fat horse. (Obese)

An obese horse has a wide firm neck or a fold and pockets of fat.

The ribs are buried under fat and  cannot be felt. The back is wide and flat with a deep gutter, continuing to the top of tail and a bulging rump.

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Feeding Pony

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Horse feeding guide

Feeding guidelines

Feeding - Weight and condition

How much food to feed?

What percentage of hay to hard food should I feed?