feeding and care of horses
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Manure and urine

Through bowel movements and urination the horse gets rid of materials that the digestive tract cannot digest or use as building blocks. The kidneys transport the liquid waste products via the urine, and the intestines take care of the solid waste



The kidneys are the excretory organ of the horse and transport the waste products from the body. The kidneys form the urine from excess water and waste materials. Urine is normally wheat-straw colored and not cloudy or dark red.


A horse may chew his feed into small pieces of 2mm or smaller, but he will also swallow larger pieces from about 1 to 3 centimeters. After the horse has chewed and swallowed his feed, these fragments will no longer break up, and they will be visible in the droppings as such. The droppings of your horse will reveal his eating habits. As a rule the manure balls of your horse are spherical and shiny and will fall apart when they hit the ground.


Diarrhea is simply the passage of manure with increased water content, which results in excess loss of fluids. Vitamins, water, and electrolytes are reclaimed from the feed in the large intestine.
When this doesn’t happen (for whatever reason), we call it diarrhea. When a horse suffers from a lengthy bout of diarrhea, we recommend providing extra water and salt. We identify 2 kinds of diarrhea:


Mild case of diarrhea

Your horse suffers from a light diarrhea that looks much like soggy cow dung. Excitement, anxiety, or a change in the daily ration of concentrated feed, pasture grass or silage may be the cause. Light diarrhea generally stops as soon as the horse has calmed down, or his daily ration has been changed.

What can I do?

Keep your horse off pasture grass, and start feeding hay, with lots of fresh water. Do not feed apples, carrots, sugar beets, mash or bran. Also check for worms. If the diarrhea lasts more than a few days, the possibility of dehydration is substantial. Don’t wait any longer and call your veterinarian.

Severe case of diarrhea

The manure is watery and the horse has very frequent bowel movements. The tail is often completely wet and the horse looks very sick. The cause can be a worm infestation, decayed or frozen food, inflammation of the (large) intestine, infection, medication or plant poisoning.

What can I do?

“Call your veterinarian as soon as possible”

Impaction or severe constipation

Impactions are one of the most common causes of colic. Quite a few locations in the digestive tract are very susceptible to these impactions, especially at places with very sharp curves, and where the food needs more time to digest. Too much straw, bad teeth or insufficient exercise are often the cause of the impaction. A fast growing fetus may also cause constipation in the pregnant mare.

What can I do?

The symptoms of an impaction are often not that extreme, but impaction colic can have huge consequences. If you suspect that your horse is constipated, give him light exercise and check your veterinarian, who will generally administer a liquid paraffin to get the intestines working again. It is important to let your horse fast for a while after the treatment. When your horse is completely recovered, you can start building up his daily ration, by feeding small portions, several times a day, and allow sufficient free exercise during the day.


Worms are a significant cause of health problems (i.e. colic and diarrhea) in horses. A worm infection occurs through manure or by way of the horsefly. Horses are constantly dealing with parasites in and around their body. These parasites like to take residence in the digestive tract and in the lungs of the horse. If you don’t take preventing measures frequently, the worms will be a serious threat to the health of your horse. We recommend worming every two months.


  • Bad shape
  • Rough coat with long hair
  • Slow shedding of winter coat
  • Disrupted and slow growth
  • Colic
  • Anemia
  • Diminished appetite
  • Diarrhea (or alternating diarrhea and constipation)

What can I do?

Worm your horse every 2 months. It is important to know the weight of your horse, so you can administer the correct dosage. Choose a product that deals with all the different types of worms. It is also very important to thoroughly clean paddocks and/or pasture regularly to prevent contamination.

“Worm horses that live together in a paddock or pasture at the same time” (Dr. L.J. Hofland – veterinarian Pavo Grooming Team©).