Tonight was wintry and cold, with about four more inches of fresh, powdery snow. When I fed dinner, around six, it was so dark that only Zelda’s white blaze shown out in the night. On cold nights, you might think of horses tucked into stalls, but ours live outside 24/7. They have a shed but rarely use it. They do wear blankets, especially when it’s wet, but they’d probably be fine without them.
Instead of tucking them in, they get plenty of hay and a hot meal. I’m not a fan of special bran mashes. Although I fed them for many years on “special occasions” I’ve come to believe that changing a horse’s feed should be done gradually, over time, and not just on Sundays or after a show. Instead, they get a hot, soaked meal every day.
I’ve fed soaked beet pulp or soaked hay cubes to horses on and off for years, but Curly is the one who made soaking grain a daily event. Because she is prone to choke, soaking her grain helps prevent it. Since Zelda and Curly are fed together, Zelda’s grain also needs to be soaked, although the chances of Zelda letting Curly eat any of her food is somewhere between slim and none. Freedom used to get alfalfa/timothy cubes with his grain, as he is somewhat picky about forage, but since I’ve started feeding him some alfalfa hay, now I do it just to help hydrate him.
Soaking grain (or in Zelda’s case, beet pulp), is a great way of getting more water into your horse. In cold weather, you need to encourage your horse to keep drinking as insufficient water is the number one cause of colic. But it also makes me feel good to see them all settle down to a hot meal on a cold night.
Do you soak your horse’s grain? And do you still feed mashes?