Feeding fit polo ponies

  • Q. I own a 10-year-old 15.2hh Thoroughbred gelding polo pony. He is a fussy eater and his weight can fluctuate. He is turned out 24 hours a day and, during the polo season, he receives two feeds a day.

    The problem is that his appetite is inconsistent and some days he will not eat all his feed. I have tried adding succulents to his diet without success and there does not appear to be a relation to workload.

    He has six monthly checks on his teeth and back and is regularly worm counted. Although he is not ribby, he is lean and if he works hard, he will drop a bit of weight. Can you suggest how I can encourage a more consistent level of appetite during the polo season?

    Independent nutritionist Christine Smy answers: I would suggest that you weigh the amount of concentrates you are providing and split them in to as many feeds a day as possible. By reducing the amount of concentrate per feed, you may encourage him to clear up more readily and increase his appetite.

    Also try experimenting to discover at what time of the day your horse is most hungry. In hot weather many horses prefer to eat their largest meal during the evening when the temperature drops.

    Consider how your horse interacts with the rest of the group he lives with. Is he being bullied in the field, which is preventing him from eating as much grass as he might? Or could the flies be bothering him, keeping him on the move and reducing his grazing time?

    Finally look at the grass type. If the quality or quantity of the grass is poor then you may need to supply hay or haylage to increase the nutrional content of the fibre.

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