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Nutrition

Feeding Ponies

Everyone knows ponies are “special” in their own right, but they also require some special nutrition guidelines, this article highlights those guidelines.

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By: Shannon Pratt-Phillips, PhD |

Ponies are not just short horses; their breeding has made them hardy animals which can survive in harsh climates on lesser-quality feed. When we mix those bloodlines with today’s forages and concentrates, we see a large number of obese ponies that are at a significantly higher risk of laminitis. Ponies are more prone to obesity than horses, partly due to their easy-keeper metabolism, and partly because the public has a perception that ponies should be a little fatter (fat equals “cute”). This is a dangerous combination. The National Research Council’s Nutrient Requirements of Horses (2007) does not list specific nutritional requirements for ponies, other than for accounting for lower body weight. For a 200-kg pony the NRC recommends 6.1, 6.7, or 7.3 mcal of digestible energy per day for ponies that tend to be easy keepers, average keepers, and harder keepers, respectively. However, Pearson and colleagues (British Journal of Nutrition,…

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