Is your horse or pony too hot/too energetic or too calm/too lethargic? In this article you will find a great deal of information about the causes and what you can do about it. We look at the horse’s circumstances and the impact that feeding could have.
Feeding in relation to the character of your horse/pony
Your choice of feed has to take the character and temperament of your horse into account. Temperament is often a display of the genetic building blocks and the environment in which your horse lives.
Some horses have an explosive temperament and are ‘hot’, while others are slow and lethargic. That can be a part of the character of the horse, but also the horse’s environment can be an influence. Finally, the feed also plays a roll.
Investigate the circumstances
The checklist below lists a number of issues which you should investigate before you look at the feed. The circumstances in which your horse/pony lives and works are very important factors that influence the behaviour of your horse/pony.
Checklist for horses/ponies that are too hot or too slow
- Does your horse get sufficient roughage?
- If your horse does not get enough roughage then it could become restless, get stomach ulcers and display unusual behaviour like wind sucking or crib biting.
- Does your horse gets on with it’s neighbours?
- If the relationship with the neighbouring horse is not good, then the result could be restless behaviour, feed anger, aggressive displays, kicking the walls. Or the horse could become lethargic.
- Does your horse spend more then 20 hours in it’s stable?
- If that is the case, boredom could start with stereotype behaviour like box walking, galloping out of it’s box and being over energetic at the start of exercising.
- Does your horse come into contact with other horses and socialise?
- If your horse can’t make contact with other horses it could become lethargic, caused by a lack of socialising.
- Is your horse too calm, slow or lazy, despite good physical condition and the correct feed? Does the performance decrease without any physical reasons?
- First check the overall health (by a vet, if needed): heart beat, breathing, temperature, condition of the teeth and perhaps also a blood analysis. A ‘burnout’ can also happen to horses; it is often called ‘overtraining’.
- Also check out your riding: horses are quick to learn to ignore repeated or irregular signals. And is the training the correct way of achieving your goals?
Feed for too hot or too slow horses
The ‘heating’ effect of oats
Many people state that oats can blow the mind of their horse. The explanation is that the fast releasing energy from oats can raise certain hormone levels, which causes the over-energetic behaviour of the horse. It is also known that the protein in oats is very easy to digest by horses, a lot easier than the protein in other grains. Therefore horses who are on oats have instant energy. In the ancient Greece, warhorses were already fed oats to increase their energy and prepare them for battle.
Nowadays, oats are still added to the feed of horses who can do with some extra energy or have to deliver an explosive performance. Be aware when feeding a lot of oats that the calcium/phosphorus balance of oats is not good and that oats contain no or hardly any vitamins or minerals.
Click here to read an article about ‘quick’ and ‘slow’ releasing energy and determine what is suited to your horse and your discipline.
Horses that are too ‘hot’
A lot of horses are too ‘hot’ or too ‘hectic’. Especially when horses worry about unusual circumstances (like competitions, travelling, unknown territory, other horses) they can become difficult to handle. How can the feed help in those type of situations?
Firstly it is important to know that hard feeds, which are rich in oils have a calming influence on the horse. Hard feeds with a higher oil content are therefore good for ‘hot’ or nervous horses. Those feeds give the horse energy, but they don’t ‘blow their brains’.