Two main types of feed
make up the bulk of a ponies diet:
Forage/roughage (e.g., hay and grass). Bricker
Performance Ponies feeds Bermuda/grass hay.
Each pony is an individual and has slightly
different requirements, but there are some
basic guidelines to follow and the diet can
be adjusted to suit the individual, depending
on how he looks and behaves.
horses and most ponies
(Hacks/evenings and weekends)
will do very well on either seed or meadow
hay, but it must be of good quality. If you
can only give one type of extra food, good,
clean sweet-smelling hay will keep most cobs
and ponies in good condition throughout the
Hay should be fed in the morning and again
late in the afternoon, at the same time each
day. Ponies are creatures of habit and will
be waiting at the gate.
How much extra food you give will depend on
a number of factors:
• The quality and quantity of grass
in the field
• The type of work the pony is doing
• The time of year
How Much to Feed
If you are unsure of how much to feed your
pony, it is always better to start with a
high fiber (grass/hay) and low concentrate
(pony nuts) diet. Then if the pony behaves
well and maintains his weight, and is not
too lively or too sluggish, then the balance
of feed is correct.
If the pony becomes silly and too energetic
then the concentrate ration should be reduced
and more hay fed; however, if the pony is
sluggish, then he needs a little more concentrate.
Always use a low-energy feed for light work
i.e. pony nuts or a light non-heating coarse
How to Test Your Ponie's Hay
Bad hay is more than just unappetizing for
your pony. Moldy, dusty or spoiled roughage
can trigger respiratory allergies or colic
in horses. Buying your hay from a reputable
supplier reduces your chances of getting an
unacceptable lot, but an occasional bad bale
can slip into any shipment.
To screen out potentially harmful hay, give
each bale you feed the following five tests.
Failing any one of these test means the bale
is moldy or otherwise spoiled and needs to
go straight to the compost heap.
The bounce test: Drop the
bale from waist level or higher. Acceptable
hay has some spring and bounces when it hits
The bend test: Pick up the
bale by the twine. A good bale has some flexibility
and sags a bit when you lift it. The degree
of sag depends upon how tightly pressed the
hay was during baling.
The "poof" test: When you
release the twine, good-quality hay "poofs"
out and expands because of its springiness.
The color test: Any shade
of green is a hallmark of good hay. Yellow
or brown hay is sunburned and, while generally
safe, probably has lost some nutrients along
with the color change. Gray or black coloring
is grounds for immediate rejection.
The sniff test: Take a close-up
whiff. Good hay smells sweet and grassy, without
the slightest hint of breath-catching mold
What are the basic needs of a Pony?
At the very least a pony needs:
Pasture free from hazards such as holes,
rusty farm machinery and loose wire
Safe fencing such as wooden, plastic,
or vinyl rails, or mesh wire fencing.
Grass for grazing or equivalent amount
of good quality hay.
Unlimited supply of fresh clean water,
heated if necessary in sub-freezing
Unlimited access to minerals and salt.
Shelter from wet or wintry weather and
shade in summer.
A dry clean area to lie down.
monitoring for injury or illness.
either with another pony, or another
animal such as a sheep or goat.
How to Safely Feed Treats to Your Pony
Most of us feed our ponies treats as a reward,
or just because we love them. Treats that
are close to a ponie’s natural foods
are healthiest but a very small amount of
almost any food item is safe to feed as a
Safe pony treats include:
• Pitted Dates
• Sugar cubes
• Hay cubes
• Apple pieces
• Carrot pieces
• Sunflower seeds (with or without
You'll find ponies have different tastes,
too. Some may love peppermints or sugar cubes,
some prefer carrots or hay cubes.
If you often carry treats in your pockets
and feed from your hands you might teach your
pony a bad habit. He might decide that all
pockets or fingers contain treats and nip
at your clothes and fingers. A pony that is
pushy about getting treats can be dangerous.
The safest way to feed treats is to put them
in a bucket or feeder.
Some treats can be a choking hazard. Apples
and carrots are best cut into pieces. Only
feed a very small amount of any hard foods
like mints and hay cubes. A greedy pony may
not chew the treat completely and bolt a treat
down. The food can then become lodged in the
ponie’s throat, causing him to choke.
things are not good for treats:
• Lawn, hedge or garden clippings.
• Cabbage, including broccoli, cauliflower
• Chocolate, if you are competing,
this can cause a positive drug test.
Don't feed treats to a strange pony. The pony
could have a medical condition that disallows
certain types of food. Some owners don't believe
in feeding treats at all. Dispose of all food
wrappings out of reach of your pony. A bag
smelling of sticky peppermints could be ingested
and cause a blockage that could be deadly.