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Horses - Diet and Nutrition/feeding hay after exercise


hello ma'am, why should  a horse be fed hay or turned out as soon as it returns to the barn from exercise irrespective of any gait (trot, canter, seat hack, gallop)? why grains and bran shouldn't be fed immediately?

Hi Rohit,

Thank you for your question.  Although feeding hay immediately following exercise is not an absolute necessity, horses (like people) can benefit from eating after exercise to help replenish lost muscle and liver glycogen stores and help support muscle growth when the potential for that to happen is at its peak.  Feeding dry hay may also help soak up surplus digestive enzymes that could have filled up an empty stomach while exercising.  However I wouldn't suggest grain feeding immediately following work concerned that the rate of passage of feed may still be elevated from work.

I also don't know that turning a horse out immediately after exercise is an absolute necessity.  A horse going from heavy work to standing in a stall without having had a proper cooldown may cause the horse to develop significant muscle soreness and turnout would prevent this.  But a horse should not be returned to its stall without a proper cool down period.

Thanks, Corlena  

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Corlena Patterson


I can help with any of your horse nutrition questions and concerns. I have been involved with horses for closing on 40 years, with a B.Sc in Animal Science and currently working on an M.Sc in Equine Science with the University of Edinburgh. I have owned my own feed store, consulted professionally as an equine nutritionist, and lectured in the fields of equine and dairy nutrition at the University level for 5 years. I have developed and currently market 'Ration-X', a ration formulation program for horses...designed for the everyday horse owner. I am happy to help in any way I can.


Experienced in developing and implementing feed programs for horses of all disciplines, creating custom horse supplements and managing inter-disciplinary equine facilities. Specialize in equine nutrition consulting.

The American Society of Equine Appraisers

'Stable Management' Handbook, Equine Canada.

M.Sc (Equine Science-current), B.Sc(Agr) Animal Science, Equine Sports Massage Therapy Certification, Farrier Certification, Equine Consultant Certification, Certified Equine Appraiser, Certified in Emergency Equine Rescue.

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