Ponies have the same nutritional needs as big horses. The good part it they don’t usually need as much! Depending on the size and use of your pony, it can be strong and healthy with pasture, 1-2 leaves of good quality hay, a quart of sweet feed or oats a day, regular worming and vet checks including vaccinations and a yearly Coggins test if your child shows. The more your pony is ridden, the more it needs to eat. Most feed bags have feeding recommendations on the back according to the weight and use of the animal. If you keep it on grassy pasture it will not need as much hay and grain as it would if you keep it in a stall or small paddock or corral. In the winter, it will need more feed and, of course, they need shelter year ’round. Be sure you give it fresh water every day, horses need a lot of water, especially if you feed alfalfa hay or high protein concentrated feeds.
Be sure you worm your pony regularly. In the fall when bot flies are active use a wormer that kills the migrating larva (Zimectrin, or an equivalent brand). If you are unsure, ask your vet for his or her recommendations. Bot fly larva can cause a horse or pony great pain as they migrate from the mouth through the tissues into the stomach and back through the body eventually emerging through the skin. Your vet can give you detailed information about parasites, prevention and worming. A wormy equine can’t utilize the feed you give it properly. Worms cause the pony to be listless, have a rough coat, bloated stomach, weight loss and even die. You will find more information about worms and other parasites in this newsletter in upcoming issues.
There are many, many books and magazines that deal with the care and feeding of equines. There are also many fads and fallacies. Use common sense and your vet as a resource. Find out what others do, keeping in mind that some people don’t give their ponies any care except grass…I DO NOT recommend this!