The healthiest horses are those turned out 24 hours a day and allowed to roam and forage freely on healthy, diverse pasture. Health proves a problem as pastures become affected by weather, seasonal changes, precipitation, etc.
So, how do we feed our horses with pastures longing for better days? I'm sure you know by now...Hay. But, not just a huge clump of any old hay in the middle of the field, if we are to utilize the hay to mimic those pasture settings:
1. Size Does Matter: Unless you're feeding a large herd of horses (and consider it even if you are), make the switch to square bales rather than round bales. There is risk of decay when using round bales if exposed to rain or not properly dried when baled. This decaying vegetation creates thriving bacteria deep inside where there is no oxygen; if consumed this can cause serious illness.
2. Get Some Exercise: This goes for you and the horse. Horses turned out on pasture wander along, grazing as they go. Again, the idea is to provide this lifestyle; load up your wagon and get to walking (not with your horses in tow). Break up your flakes, leaving them in small piles along your path. After you've had your exercise, allow your horses to meander, stopping at the piles along the way.
3. Mix It Up: Grass hay is what we picture when we think of hay, but your fields are not simply made up of one type of grass. They offer beneficial weeds, legumes, and a variety of grasses. So, mix up those flakes. Combine within your piles a mixture of timothy and bermuda, with a bit of alfalfa added for protein. I think I just heard a whinny of excitement.