top of page

Hard Feed

Hard Feed

Hard feed is the term for concentrated feeds that are formulated specifically for horses. They typically come in the form of pellets, cubes, or grains, and they are designed to provide additional nutrition and energy, as well as any nutrients lacking in a forage-only diet.

Hard feeds can vary in composition, and many are tailored to the needs of horses in terms of age, activity level and specific dietary requirements.

Common ingredients found in hard feed include grains such as oats, corn, barley, and wheat, along with protein sources like soybean meal or alfalfa.

  • Oats are relatively high in fibre and lower in starch compared to some other grains. Contrary to popular opinion, they are also considered a "cool" grain, due to their moderate energy release. While it’s true that some horses may exhibit increased energy or excitability when fed oats, it’s not a universal response. Many horses tolerate oats well and can thrive on them.

  • Barley contains more starch compared to oats so some horses may exhibit increased energy levels with this grain.

  • Corn/Maize is another higher-starch grain. As it’s more energy-dense, it may lead to increased energy levels in some horses, resulting in more excitable behaviour.


Commercial feeds often contain a combination of grains, protein sources, vitamins, and minerals to provide balanced nutrition. These feeds can have varying formulations, and their effects on horses can depend on their specific ingredients and nutrient composition. Some commercial feeds are designed to provide controlled energy release and may help minimize the risk of "hot" behaviour.

The idea that hard feed makes horses "hot" is complex and often involves individual horse temperaments, overall diet, exercise, and management factors. Therefore, to determine the most suitable feed for a particular horse, it is recommended to consult with an equine nutritionist or veterinarian.

It should be stressed here that hard feed should be used in conjunction with a forage-based diet as forage is the foundation of a horse's nutritional needs.


DIY Hard Feed

Many horse owners develop their own concentrated feed, a kind of pick ‘n’ mix to suit the specific requirements of their horses.

Once again, consult an equine nutritionist to get the balance right, but the following is a rough guide to what you’ll need:

  • An energy source: choose a high-quality grain or cereal – such as oats, barley, corn, or a combination of all three;

  • Protein: sources include soybean meal, linseed meal, alfalfa meal, or protein supplements;

  • Fibre: sources include sugar beet pulp or soya bean hulls.

bottom of page