Driving-horses, especially those used at fast work, should be fed with great care. They should have relatively a greater proportion of concentrates and a less proportion of roughage than those used for heavy, slow work. Horses designed for fast work should not have their bowels distended with coarse foods. Some roughage is always necessary to float and divide the concentrates in the stomach, otherwise the grain and meal become somewhat compacted, and then are not easily attacked by the digestive juices. There is always some danger of feeding so liberally as to produce over-fatness. Fat horses, to the untrained eye, appear more beautiful than lean ones, and hence the danger of sacrificing highest usefulness for beauty. Any unnecessary weight on the legs reduces to some extent their efficiency, and also tends to make the horse sluggish. The family horse may be kept much plumper than the roadster, for he is not driven so fast and far, and, by reason of the extra flesh, in time he becomes safer and less nervous. If the food of the horse thin in flesh be increased, his spirit is likely to increase for a time, and a horse considered safe when thin may become so energetic and frisky when putting on flesh as to injure his reliability as a family horse. Having once arrived at the maximum of flesh, he will soon tend to become as trusty as at first. Having been fat for some time, the tendency is for him to grow sluggish.
Timothy and wild prairie hays form excellent roughage for feeding roadsters. While the roadster may be fed hay from grasses mixed with clover, and even bright clover alone without injury if the quantity is sharply restricted, yet there is always some danger of injuring the wind of the horse by so doing. Timothy and prairie hays are less palatable, and more carbonaceous than hays mixed with clover, which are more relished; and hence the tendency is for the horse to eat too much of the latter unless the feeder limits the ration. Mixed and clover hays are admirably adapted for feeding colts and other young stock. Such hay has a nutritive ratio of about 1:5.8 (one to five and eight-tenths. See Appendix III), while timothy hay has a ratio of about 1:16. The chief reasons for not feeding clover hay to driving horses are two: It is always more or less dusty, and it is too proteinaceous, and hence tends to loosen the bowels when the animal is put at hard, fast work. However, if clover hay be mixed with bright straw, and the mass be dampened, a satisfactory roughage ration will be secured for all but fast drivers.
Oats and corn are the two standard concentrates. The former is best adapted to driving-horses, while the latter mixed, or even unmixed with oats, serves well for horses which are kept daily at work which calls for large expenditures of energy, if the roughage is not also rich in carbohydrates. Bran may also be used but to a limited extent; for it is not sufficiently concentrated to furnish nutrients to satisfactorily sustain either driving- or work-horses when put to fatiguing work. If fed liberally, it tends to keep the bowels too lax. When scalded it is not infrequently fed to relieve constipation in horses. About four quarts of bran may be thoroughly moistened with boiling water, covered up, and left until the next feeding time, when it should be diluted and fed warm. A gill of linseed meal per day, mixed with other concentrates, serves to keep the bowels in good condition, and to brighten and soften the hair. Barley and rye are also used as concentrates to a limited extent. Both are much improved if ground and mixed with other concentrates. Wheat is sometimes used for feeding horses, but it is the least satisfactory of all the foods mentioned. Before it is fed, it should be mixed with other grains and ground into meal. Cottonseed meal, a valuable concentrate for feeding cattle and sheep, is not relished by horses.
In closing this discussion on feeds and feeding, it may be said that regularity in feeding and watering, judgment in withholding a part of, or adding to the ration, and in the kinds of food to be used under any particular condition, all play important parts. With mows and bins full of good foods,some horsemen are unable to keep their horses up to a high state of efficiency. They appear to acquire the habit of caring for their horses in the wrong way or at the wrong time, or both. The very breath of such an attendant seems to be poison to the horse. Horses should be used but moderately for a short time after they have partaken of a full meal. Horses kept in cold stables should receive wider rations than those kept in warm stables. "The skill of the groom is half the ration." For a more extended discussion of this subject see "Feeds and Feeding," by Director William Anion Henry, Madison, Wis.