Believe it or not, there are some similarities and common themes with nutrition for both horses and humans. I thought it would be fun to go over some of those. As we take care of our horses, we can take care of our own health as well.
Too often I hear of equestrians eating fast food on their way to shows, competitions, or trail rides, but they’ll spend tons of money on high dollar feed and supplements for their horses. That is fine if you want to do that every once in a while, but with a little planning and preparation, we can eat better, too.
Speaking for myself who recently recovered from covid. I know how important health is and how much we take it for granted. Let’s dive into a few ideas to keep ourselves and our horses healthy.
Clean Drinking Water
Did you know we can go longer without food before we can go without water? Horses are the same. It can be very dangerous if they were to run out of water. There is a risk of colic if a horse does not drink enough. Check your horses’ water source daily to ensure they have plenty of clean water to drink because horses can drink upwards 10 gallons a day, especially in winter when they are eating mostly hay.
I heard it said that most of the population is chronically dehydrated. Partly, because there are so many other options available from coffee to sodas, but those actually deplete your body instead of hydrate. You need to drink a minimum of 64 oz of water a day. Consult your Dr. on the exact amount that is right for you. I recommend taking a bottle of water with you to the barn or on trail rides. Drinking clean water is also very important, so I recommend drinking filtered water. This is the filter I use. It filters out over 200 contaminants.
Main Diet = Quality Food
The bulk of a horses’s diet should be made of up forage, which means grass or hay. Be sure your hay is free of mold and containments. Always buy your hay from a trustworthy source. To be sure, on how much hay to feed your horse, consult your veterinarian. You can overfeed your horse.
When shopping for your food, take care to buy fresh ingredients whether it is vegetables or meats. Canned foods and convenient foods, especially, lack some nutritional value. Eating fresh and in season will ensure you’re getting the most nutrients, and you’re getting more for your money. Cooking your food yourself will ensure you are eating much healthier. Cooking at home takes some time, but the payoff is much bigger in the long run. Find dinner recipes that are 30 minutes or less. Shoot for eating at home at least 3/4 of the time. It will also save you money from eating out.
All horses love grain and it’s ok to feed it to them daily, but I would not recommend feeding sweet feed. I would stick with a complete feed that is around 12% protein. Often, the cheap sweet feeds contain fillers and molasses and things your horse does not need. Your horse may gobble it up like it’s a box of donuts, but it is not good for them. It is wise to consult your veterinarian on your horses’ unique nutritional needs.
Likewise, keeping sweets at bay is a good choice for yourself. Those sweets may taste good, but they do absolutely nothing for your body nutritionally speaking. That being said, it is fine to treat yourself every once in a while. In fact, you should, but I encourage you to make your sweets at home. You’ll actually be less likely to grab the candy bar if you opt for homemade instead.
Staying active is important for domestic horses because we often pen them therefore, they aren’t moving around near enough as they would be in their natural state. Wild horses move constantly, but most people don’t have the land or space for that, so it’s important we give them exercise and at the very least turn out time to stretch their legs and be a horse.
Every person needs exercise and needs to move their body. We are a lot like our domestic horses and don’t move around enough because of either our jobs or lifestyle. Getting a minimum of 30 minutes a day of activity is necessary for a healthy lifestyle. Find ways that make you feel good. Whether it is walking, dancing, or yoga, you can move your body in ways that feel good to you. It doesn’t have to be torture because if you don’t enjoy it, then you are less likely to keep doing it.
Your horse needs access to salt at all times. Salt provides essential minerals that are vital to your horse’s health. I do not recommend buying those big commercial salt licks because they are often full of chemicals. I only recommend buying salt licks such as Redmonds Rock or Himalayan Pink Salt.
Likewise, for your own health, ditch plain table salt because you are missing out on vital minerals your body needs as well. I recommend buying Celtic Sea Salt, Redmonds Real Salt, or Himalayan Pink Salt. Any of these will be a much better choice than using plain white table salt. Usually, if the salt looks white and bleached, it has little to no mineral content left.
To recap, make sure you are feeding you and your horse quality food. Meaning, you know its contents and you know where it came from. If you cook the food at home, you have so much more control over what goes in it. That way, you can skip the additives and chemicals.
Make sure you are drinking lots of water, moving around and being active, and using good quality salt. If you do all of these things, then you are well on your way to being a healthier horse and human.
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