Horses are herd animals by nature that once lived on the Eurasian Steppes. They are creatures of habit and must always have the opportunity to flee. Horses are also herbivores that are accustomed to movement through grazing. Originally, they would graze practically day and night, spending as much as 16 hours a day nibbling on grasses and herbs that were low in nutrients. This gave them a constant intake of high-fiber food in small amounts. Their grass was high in fiber but low in sugar and protein. The range of herbs and grasses available to them was so diverse that they had access to many different vitamins and minerals. The natural diet of horses was therefore high in fiber and contained plenty of vitamins and minerals, but little sugar and protein and even less starch.

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Equine diets have also changed greatly since domestication. The forage that horses eat now contains more energy and protein. In addition, pastures contain a much more limited range of herbs, which means that their vitamin and mineral content is much lower. Depending on the season, (sport) horses may only be allowed to graze for a few hours a day and are given concentrates 2 to 3 times a day. But whilst the lives of today’s domesticated horses may be completely different from those of their free-roaming ancestors, their digestive systems are the same.
The big differences in what horses ate then and what they eat now can cause problems at various places in the digestive system. Good knowledge of anatomy and the digestion process is useful in preventing
these problems.