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Ask the Nutritionist: Dr. Getty's Forum for Equine Nutrition

   Welcome to my forum. 

Here you will find more than 6 years of questions and my answers. It is searchable and offers a great deal of information. 

Currently, I am discontinuing new questions. This may change in the future, but in the meantime, please know that It has been a true pleasure serving you. 

Take a look at my Nutrition Library and Tips of the Month for a variety of answers on selected topics. Be sure to sign up for my monthly e-newsletter, Forage for Thought

I also have a growing number of recordings on "Teleseminars on Nutrition Topics that Concern You" as well as the new, Spotlight on Equine Nutrition Series -- printed versions of favorite teleseminars.

And finally, look for my articles in a variety of local publications and online newsletters, as well as the Horse Journal, where I am the Contributing Nutrition Editor.  


All the best,

 Dr. Getty 


Ask the Nutritionist: Dr. Getty's Forum for Equine Nutrition
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How soon to ride after feeding?

I am having a debate over this question with my barn mates. None of our horses get much grain (mine get only ration balancer and hay stretcher). One of the boarders believes that you should wait an hour after feeding to ride. I have been riding my horses after they eat breakfast for years. The only time they get before riding is grooming and tacking up. I generally walk for about 10 minutes at the start of each ride.

Given that endurance horses are fed throughout long distance rides without trouble, I am wondering is the 1 hour wait is the equivalent to the old recommendation of waiting an hour after eating before you swim.

Where are you from? Boston

Re: How soon to ride after feeding?

Hi Liz,

Well, the answer is, "it depends!" (How's that for clarity?!)

It really depends on the content and size of the meal. If the meal contains cereal grains (oats, barley, corn, etc.) or is high in fat, then it stays in the stomach longer and therefore, you should wait approximately 30 minutes to an hour to exercise your horse. Walking is fine, but more than that can be problematic since food is still in the stomach and trotting or running can possibly lead to colic.

If the meal is high in forage -- grass, hay, hay extender, beet pulp... Then, it doesn't stay in the stomach long and even moves through the small intestine rapidly. It ends up in the hind gut where the bacteria can digest it and derive calories from it. So, a high fiber diet like this is ok for feeding just before exercise.

If the meal is very large, then regardless of whether it is digested early in the gut (carbohydrates, fat, and protein) or in the hind gut (fiber), caution should be taken when exercising the horse. A meal of concentrates (commercial feeds, oats, and other starchy or fatty feeds) should never be more than 4 lbs since the horse's stomach is not large enough to handle more than this safely.

I hope this info is helpful!

All the best,

Dr. Getty

Where are you from? Bayfield, CO