Some good horse feeds include forages, energy feeds and commercially available feed. Forages are plant material classified as legumes and grasses and are a primary source of nutrients. They include hay and dried grass in forms such as pellets, cubes or bales. The nutrients found in forages vary greatly with the fertilization and maturity of the grass and environmental conditions.
Haylage is hay that has not had exposure to oxygen and has fermented. Haylage provides nutrition and is particularly good for horses that are sensitive to dust, but caution should be taken to ensure that it does not contain mold which can be toxic. Horses prefer to eat small amounts of food throughout the day as when grazing in a pasture. Hay pellets and cubes consist of processed hay that is easy to feed is small amounts, especially when water has been applied.
Energy feeds include cereal grains, rice bran, oats, beet pulp and oil and are relatively high in calories, vitamins, minerals and protein. They are also concentrated and nutrient dense. Cereal grains alone are insufficient for horses, because they are not balanced, particularly in the minerals calcium and phosphorous.
Commercial feeds are of a mix of protein, cereal grains, vitamins and minerals that are designed to be used in conjunction with hay. They are available in pelleted or original grain form. Pelleted feed may be easier to chew and can often result in less wasted feed. Many companies produce feed that is specifically formulated for different classes of horses, such as mares, foals, seniors or performance horses. These products consist of balanced ingredients that address the needs of each specific type of horse.