Nutrition for Miniature Horses

Nutrition for Miniature Horses

Nutrition for Miniature Horse is similar to that for large horses but the differences in body size must always be considered. Miniature Horses will normally require a daily ration of grain and hay. Two feedings daily are the minimum when feeding Miniature Horses because of the size of their intestinal tract and the need for continual movement of food in their system. Plenty of clean water should always be available. Pasture access must be limited when the grass is long and lush or founder (a painful and crippling condition) may result. As with all horses, feeding should be tailored to the individual animal. Check with your veterinarian on an appropriate feeding program for your particular horse.

At our farm we feed good clean grass hay. We do have different feeding program for different animals.

Horses in good weight and health being feed twice a day with a nice grass hay is plenty for them, with clean cool water and salt block (we use the white blocks) saying that not all California hay is the same or carry the correct balance of feed. Watch to see if your horse is gaining weight or losing weight so you can adjust their feed. We feed ¼ to 1/3 of a flake to each horse twice daily. The ratio should be 1.5 % of their weight so a 200 horse would be 3 lbs. of hay. Do not feed alfalfa!

Elk Grove mill stable mix is a great product purchased in a 50lb bag or 250lb barrel. It’s easy to measure our weed free and balanced diet. The only thing we suggest is to add a handful of grass hay or if you have very short pasture grass horses need to graze. Keeping the intestinal tract happy. A 250 lb. mini would get 2 cups of pellets and hay.


The mare should be kept at a normal weight during gestation, not underweight or obese. During the last trimester the foal is growing rapidly which means the mare needs to eat more. Her hay can be decreased and concentrates increased to make sure the foal's needs are being met without detriment to the mare. She needs to have increased calcium and phosphorus for foal bone development. According to studies

, a pregnant mare's pregnancy directly affects the fetal bone development. Mares in these studies that were fed rations deficient in copper had 58 percent more bone and cartilage lesions by the age of three months the mare needs plenty of water and exercise during gestation. It is better to let her roam in pasture than kept in a stall. However, if your pasture has fescue growing in it, the mare must be taken off the pasture by the beginning of the last trimester. Most fescue grass contains a toxic mold that can cause many problems including: abortion, thickened placenta, retained placenta, and low milk production.

The last 3 months of her pregnancy our mares receive grass hay about ¼ to 1/3 flake then they get 1 cup of mare and foal grain or safe choice pellets twice a day. The last month we add another ½ cup of safe choice pellets. This would be for a 250-275 mare that is about 32” in height. If your mare is overweight, cut down on the grains, add grass hay. Taller mares may need a feed increase. Please keep in mind one cup or 8 oz. would be like a can of tomato sauce comes in, not your 16 oz. water glass. Miniature mares that are under stress can get Hyperlipemia. Please read about Hyperlipemia. Stress in diet being obese and just having a foal can cause Hyperlipemia. The foal- mare and foal feed or safe choice feeding ½ cup twice daily and grass hay, salt and fresh water. Watch these babies for ulcers or colic. These foals will lie on their backs legs in the air.

Obese horse feed grass hay 2x a day no grains. It’s ok to give them a carrot or two. If your horse should be cut down slowly on the feed.  


HYPERLIPEMIA Under certain stressful conditions, causing a sudden drop in their diet, such as heavy parasite infestations, pituitary tumors, pregnancy, and lactation, the miniature horse can become hyperlipemic.It can result when anything drastically reduces their feed intake. Hyperlipemia is caused when fat is released into the blood system, in response to the reduction of feed intake, causing high levels of fat in the blood. The miniature horse differs from other animals in that instead of converting fat into energy, their fat floods into the blood and builds up in their liver causing hyperlipemia. It can result in fatal liver and kidney damage. Once hyperlipemia occurs, the prognosis poor. Even with treatment, there is only a 50 percent survival rate from hyperlipemia. Owners must monitor the diet carefully so that they do not become obese, requiring a reduction in their intake of food and possibly becoming hyperlipemic. Parasites can cause it, so regular worming is important. Symptoms include the refusal to eat, depression, diarrhea, weakness muscle incoordination, yellow color mucus membranes of the eyes, lethargy and weakness. Please call you vet ASAP waiting a day can make the difference of a saving your horse. If your horse stops eating it’s a red flag.

COLIC is one of the main causes of death in horses, and miniature horses are especially vulnerable due to the small size of their intestines, allowing a blockage to form. This is a painful condition caused by a disruption of the horse's digestive system. It can occur from such causes as, internal parasites, large-or small-colon impaction, or spoiled food. The term “colic” refers to abdominal pain in the horse. It does not indicate the cause of the pain. Colic can be due to gastrointestinal, urinary or reproductive problems. GI (gastrointestinal) issues are the most common cause of colic. Furthermore, the 2 common causes of GI pain in the horse is either gas or impaction. The best preventative is to keep the miniature horse on a laxative diet, and grass is the most desirable food for this reason. Avoid coarse hay or forage. Intestinal parasites is one of the most common causes of colic in horses and can be prevented by regular worming. Keeping manure cleaned out of the pens and mowing pastures will reduce worm populations. The miniature horse can be dewormed every 8 weeks, or he can be given a daily dose of dewormer in his food. The safest products re pyrantel, bendamidazole, and ivermectin. Ivermectin should be administered after the first frost in the fall and again in the spring to combat bots.One of the causes can be enteroliths, which are stones that form around a foreign object swallowed by the horse. Wood, metal, plastic or glass can cause this if ingested by the miniature horse. Foals that chew their mother's mane or tails also can develop this condition. Surgery is the only treatment if a miniature horse is diagnosed with colic caused by enteroliths. Prevention of enteroliths is through avoidance of bran and alfalfa hay which are high in minerals that cause these stones to form. Gas is also a common cause of colic in horses. Most times, the cause of gas is not found but known reasons for gas in horses are: rapid change in diet- including sudden change to an either very rich or poor quality of hay, and parasitic infection. With colic caused by gas, horses have brief, self-limited symptoms such as: the horse looking at its side, pawing, pacing, shaking, stretching repeatedly, lying on their backs, playing with their water but not seeming to drink much, and even appearing mildly bloated. If gas is the cause, then these symptoms should improve by encouraging hydration and walking the horse for up to an hour. However, if after an hour this does not seem to relieve the symptoms or if the horse begins to lie down, roll, appear depressed or stop eating, seek veterinary care immediately as this could signal a potentially life threatening cause, such as impaction. Impaction is a blockage in the intestine. Causes of this can include coarse dry feed material that the horse has consumed without adequate water intake; poor chewing while eating due to dental problems; and even decreased GI motility from decreased physical activity or advanced age. Worm or sand impaction can even be a cause of blockage. Eating green grass can help, so if your horse’s colic symptoms do not resolve in about an hour or any warning symptoms occur, it is better to seek immediate veterinary attention.