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Is your horse irritable, aggressive, or nervous? Weight issues or poor body condition?

In their natural environment, horses are grazing animals that feed on small amounts of forage throughout the day. This grazing behavior satisfies their physiological and psychological needs. Horses have evolved to consume small, frequent meals, allowing for a steady supply of nutrients and continual saliva production to aid the digestive process. Replicating this natural behavior as closely as possible is essential for maintaining their well-being. While the specific needs of horses can vary based on factors such as age, breed, and activity level, maintaining a regular feeding routine is essential. Failure to provide small frequent meals can lead to physiological stress, resulting in behavioral changes.


When horses have extended periods without food, their blood glucose levels drop, increasing the production of stress hormones such as cortisol. This can result in a range of behavioral changes, including:

a. Aggression and Nervousness: Horses may become more irritable, anxious, or display aggressive behavior towards humans or other animals.

b. Weight Loss and Poor Body Condition: Irregular feeding patterns can cause horses to lose weight, develop a poor body condition, and experience muscle wasting. This can be particularly problematic for performance horses or those with high energy requirements.

c. Digestive Disorders: Extended periods without food can disrupt the delicate balance of the horse's digestive system, increasing the risk of colic, gastric ulcers, and other gastrointestinal issues.

d. Stereotypic Behaviors: Horses may resort to stereotypic behaviors such as crib-biting, weaving, or stall-walking because of the physiological stress induced by irregular feeding.


I recommend establishing a regular feeding schedule for your horse to prevent physiological stress and the associated behavioral changes. While individual horses' requirements may vary, a general guideline is to provide small, frequent meals every few hours.


Feeding your horse this often is a challenge – waking up in the middle of the night, not being able to be away from your barn for more than four hours at a time. This is why I invented Haytime, which can help reduce equine stress and behavioral issues by delivering more frequent meals of hay at timed intervals. And it reduces horse owner stress by allowing more lifestyle flexibility and peace of mind knowing your horse is fed the way nature intended.

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