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General Nutrient Requirements

What horses need – There is an order of importance, just like in people. This list is not complete. That said, if we find sources for these nutrients, the remainder of the horses needs are usually met.


  • Water – (universal solvent, important in body fluid balance, GI health and digestive function)

    • Total body water of adult ~ 63% of their weight

    • Needs change with ambient temperature and work

      • 5 to 24 gallons per day!

  • Digestible Energy (calories)

    • If a horses calorie needs are not met, they will continue to loose weight even if you supply an excess of protein.

  • Protein (needed to maintain or increase muscle and all tissues)

  • Minerals

    • Calcium & Phosphorous (for bone & teeth health, enzymes, blood coagulation & cellular metabolism)

      • Ideal ratio of 1.67:1 to 2:1

      • Minimum horses can tolerate 1:1 in a non-growing adult

      • Maximum tolerated is 5:1

    • Copper (Needed for enzymes, connective tissue and cellular reactions)

    • Zinc (enzyme component)

    • Selenium (thyroid metabolism and anti-oxidant)

    • Iodine (thyroid function)

  • Vitamins

    • Vitamin A (vision, immune function, reproduction)

    • Vitamin E (anti-oxidant)


Keep in mind – every nutrient (even water) can be fed, or forced, at toxic levels.  This statement is most important when you consider the supplements we are adding to our horse’s diets.

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