Under ordinary conditions, particularly in small establishments, the arrangement of the horse's dietary is left to the groom or coachman, and so long as the animals are performing the amount of work required of them, and do not suffer from any particular illnesses that interfere with their work, the owner does not feel called upon to interfere. Nevertheless, it would be advantageous in many cases if an intelligent interest were manifested in the condition of the animals, and it is more than probable that in many cases it would be found desirable to make changes to meet the peculiarities of certain horses. For example, some horses, like some human beings, suffer from bad appetites, or, as the groom would express it, do not eat their rations clean. This fact is ascertained by merely observing that a certain portion of the food supplied is left in the manger, while another portion is probably found lying under the horse's nose. To remedy this condition of things a change of food by the addition of some compound which will add to its flavour will have a very excellent effect. An extra sprinkling of salt will be very grateful to some horses, while others would prefer some spicy additions in the form of turmeric or some one of the advertised foods, which contain different condiments, mixed with meal, and have the advantage of inducing an animal to consume the provender, and at the same time stimulate the digestive powers.
The horse-owner is often puzzled how to arrange a system of feeding for a horse which remains in poor condition notwithstanding the fact that he cats a considerable quantity of food. The story told will commonly be to the effect that the horse eats as much again as any other animal in the stable, and remains a perfect skeleton all the time. Such animals, it may be remarked, are often possessed of a highly nervous temperament and feeble digestion, and considerable difficulty is often experienced in arranging the food to suit their particular case. Sometimes the addition of some new kind of diet will be found very effective - a small proportion of crushed oil-cake (linseed or cotton), malt meal, the wetting of the food when it is put in the manger, or the addition of an extra quantity of bran, will produce good results. In other instances, which are not benefited by this treatment, the addition of a certain proportion of animal food to the daily ration may have the desired effect. Some little care is required in preparing such food, and there may be some difficulty at first in inducing the animal to take it. A plan which has been found to answer is to make fairly strong soup from any coarse pieces of meat, and to pour the liquid, when cold, on to some bran, to make a mash. A small quantity to begin with of this mixture may be placed in the manger and covered with a sprinkling of oats and a little dry bran. Frequently this device is sufficient to induce the animal to take the mixture, of which he shortly becomes extremely fond. If the ration should be refused, however, and left uneaten at the end of an hour, the next thing is to clean the manger entirely and leave the animal without food for several hours, and then make some of the mash into small balls and place one after another into its mouth. In this way the creature shortly becomes accustomed to the flavour, and will offer no objection to the compound in future.
1. Wheat (Triticum vulgare).
2. Oat (Avena sativa).
3. Barley (Hordeum distichum).
4. Crested Dog's Tail (Cynosuruscristatus).
5. Meadow Cat's-Tail or Timothy (Phleutu pratense).
6. Smooth Meadow-Grass (Poa pratensis).
7. Cock's-Foot (Dactylis glornerata).
8. Hard Fescue (Festuca duriuscula).
9. Meadow Fescue Festuca pratensis).
10. Sheep's Fescue (Festuca ovina).
11. Meadow Fox-Tail (Alopecurus pratensis).
12. Bye-Grass (Lolium perenne).
Food Plants - 1.
The practice of turning horses out to grass during a certain period of the year is adopted with the idea that the animals will be materially benefited thereby. It is affirmed that the succulent herbage is cooling to the system, that the animals' legs and feet are considerably improved by the change of position and diet, and, in short, that the practice is altogether advantageous and free from objection. Experience, however, teaches that the effects of a run of grass very commonly fall short of the owner's anticipations. Everything, indeed, depends upon the circumstances in which the animal is placed, and the provisions which are made for shelter. In addition, the character of the soil and the quality of the herbage will have to be taken into account. In dry seasons, hard ground and scanty herbage are by no means conducive to the improvement of the animal's condition, and certainly the legs and feet are not likely to benefit by the violent exercise in which the animal commonly indulges when first turned into the pasture. Again, animals which have been engaged in hard work and been supplied with large quantities of concentrated food are likely to suffer from the sudden change to a diet containing a very large proportion of water, necessitating the consumption of a large quantity in order to make up for the deficiency of concentrated nutriment. The distention of the stomach and intestines by the amount of food consumed leads to pressure upon the diaphragm, which is injurious to the respiratory organs; and at the time when it was customary to turn hunters out to grass as soon as the season was over, it was not uncommon for a considerable number of the animals to be brought up in the autumn suffering from "broken wind". To get the full benefit from a change of diet from stable food to the meadow grass there should be proper arrangements for the animal's shelter, so placed that he can take advantage of it, should he feel inclined, to escape from wind, sun, or rain; and a moderate allowance of dry food, oats, bran, and hay should always be insisted on. This system has the advantages of giving the animal complete rest and change of position, with the addition of a proportion of succulent diet to the ordinary stable rations, and it is decidedly to be preferred to the haphazard system of turning a horse out to grass for several months and leaving him to take his chance.