Do you love horses but don’t have enough space or access to a stable to own one? In that case, a miniature horse can be the ideal pet for you. Miniature horses are easy to manage and require the same amount of space as a normal dog would, making them suitable for backyards. Although they might be 4 times smaller than a standard horse, they sure pack all the characteristics equines are famous for – they have a gentle personality, can be easily trained and can pull up to 4 times their own weight.
While miniature horses are similar in most aspects to larger breeds, unfortunately, they are more prone to developing certain health problems. An especially common concern for minis is obesity. Miniature horses can easily become obese as many owners unknowingly overfeed their horses or fail to provide them with enough exercise. However, owners can help their mini horses maintain healthy body weight by feeding them properly.
Generally, miniature horses should consume around 1.5% of their body weight in hay daily. On average, mini horses weigh around 100 kilograms, which means they should receive 1 – 1.5 kilograms of hay each day. However, lactating mares and minis used for pulling cars have higher nutritional needs and require up to 3% of their body weight in forage.
But even if you restrict the amount of food your mini receives, if it has easy access to grass, there’s still a risk it will overeat. So, if you keep your little horsey around a lawn or at a farm with plenty of opportunities for grazing, make sure that it wears a special muzzle which will prevent it from overeating. The muzzle should be made from nylon material which is durable and flexible and come with no-rub padding that can prevent discomfort. Such a muzzle can be bought at an equine gear store that also deals in miniature horse accessories.
Another way to prevent obesity in miniature horses is with the help of slow feeding. As opposed to feeding the horse once or twice a day, slow feeding allows the animal to have access to its recommended amount of food throughout the whole day. This way, the animal can use the energy gained from food more efficiently. There are two ways you can slow feed your horse. The first one is by hand feeding it small amounts of hay throughout the day. But if you’re too busy and unable to do so, a more convenient way is to place a slow feeder hay bag in your horse’s surroundings which has small holes that slow down the eating process. You can find a slow feeder hay bag at stores that sell miniature horse accessories.