Hay and Grain
Polo ponies require two types of feed, hay and grain, in proper amounts. Too much feed results in an overweight, inactive, sick or even crippled horse. Too little feed results in a skinny horse with reduced stamina and less resistance to disease. Physical appearance is the best indicator of under or overfeeding.
The best and most natural source of roughage is good pasture grass and dry hay. Although inactive or idle horses will subsist on good pasture or a good quality hay, working or growing horses should receive grain in addition to hay. The harder the work, the more grain required.
The ratio and amount of feed should be discussed with your veterinarian in order to tailor the feed with the needs or your polo pony. The following is only a general guide:
Idle or little activity: Chiefly or entirely on pasture and roughage.
Light Work (1-3 hours per day under saddle): 1/4 to 3/4 pounds of grain plus 1 1/2 pounds of hay per 100 pounds of animal body weight.
Medium Work (3-5 hours per day under saddle): 3/4 to 1 pound of grain plus 1 to 1 1/4 pounds of hay per 100 pounds of animal body weight.
Hard Work (5-8 hours per day under saddle): 1 to 1 1/4 pounds of grain plus 1 pound of hay per 100 pounds of animal body weight.
Feed your polo pony on a regular schedule. Common practice is to split the day’s ration into two feeds, one in the morning and one in the evening. The digestive system of a horse is best suited to eating small amounts frequently. A full day’s feed ration given at one time to a hungry polo pony may cause colic.
If you have more than one polo pony, each should be fed individually and according to their own formula of size, age and amount of work.
Access to Feed
Some polo ponies take more time than others to eat. If polo ponies are fed in a common area, the fighters and kickers get the best feed and the less aggressive ones get the leftovers. Individual feeding not only conserves food, but it prevents injuries.
Grain should be fed in clean boxes that will not allow leakage or spillage on the ground.
Hay should be fed in a large box or manger.
A block of salt should always be available and polo ponies that are playing and sweating should receive a tablespoon of salt in their grain each day.
For a polo pony turned out to pasture, water should be available at all times. Otherwise, ponies should be offered water prior to feeding and again thirty minutes after they have finished eating.
The following feeding guidelines are recommended by most equine veterinarians:
water before feeding
hay before grain
feed in small amounts and often
do not work hard following a full feed
when changing food types change slowly (3-4 days)