Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Should you wait to ride after grain?

Here's a problem I've been struggling with on and off for quite a while now.

The barn feeds hay at 4pm, then grains at 5pm. If everything is going right for me, I get to the barn right around 5pm. Some days right before they get grain; some days after.

It's the days after that concern me. If I get there and he's in the midst of his grain - he gets just under 2lb per feeding now - my rule of thumb is to wait a solid hour. And then I still worry. A lot. Definitely way more than I should.

Typically, if I'm riding earlier in the afternoon, the rule is to hold grain until he has completely cooled out. I'm not just talking returning to a resting heart rate - I'm talking dry & cool.

I have no problem with him eating forage while sweaty/hot, or pulling him off a pile of hay to ride. (The only exception is if he's genuinely so hot I want him to keep walking to cool, and I try not to work him that hard anyway. See above re: worry.)

Does anyone else have this timing problem? I believe science has officially said that I can grain my horse whenever I want in relation to riding, but I can't get ride of the nagging worry. Too much Pony Club, maybe.

What do you do?


  1. I use the same rules as I do for swimming - wait 20 minutes. :)

  2. You should wait at least 45 minutes...horses digest fairly quickly but depending on the amount, I would wait at least 45 to an hour.

  3. I've always worried about this too, although usually I don't work my horse hard enough to warrant the worry. Personally, I like to eat after I exercise, so I generally do the same for my horse (after she's cooled out).

  4. I tack up directly after my horse is done eating his grain. If I didn't I would never ride. He does fine. If we are going to do something incredibly strenuous (read: gallop sets/conditioning work for Training Level Eventing +), I would probably wait to grain until after my ride. But, we are typically just doing 45 min - 1 hour of mid to high intensity dressage work. I don't worry about it.

  5. I stopped worrying when I took up endurance. Horses come into the vet checks down HR-wise but they're still sweaty, get checked by the vet, eat, and they're off again pretty quickly usually. As you know from helping Hannah, holds tend to only be anywhere from 20 - 60 minutes total and the horses for the most part do fine. :) Mashes are beet pulp, wet grain or a combination. I know some riders that just feed dry grain at holds. I worry more if the horse is eating a sugary starchy grain like sweet feed: that is more likely to cause digestive upset than a beet pulp based feed or low starch pellets. I personally will give a soupy beet pulp + TC Senior (it's low starch) mash to Lily before long hard rides so she has something in her stomach. The Senior is beet pulp based and that plus the beet pulp itself helps to hold water in her gut so she stays hydrated longer.

    1. This. Yep. I stuff my horses full of whatever they'll eat and proceed with my plans.

      At rides I like Q to come in and stuff her face to the maximum extent before we head out for another 15-25 mile loop.

  6. Here's another bloggers take on just this topic

  7. I find that usually by the time I tack up and walk them to loosen them up, it's already been 30-45 minutes before we get into the more strenuous work. I usually don't worry too much, but it's better to err on the side of caution.

  8. I'm with you- I worry and I wait 45 minutes after graining. However, really I only sit around for 25 minutes and then start tacking up really slowly- I don't see why he can't get brushed and digest as the same time. If I ride before grain is given, he gets his grain as soon as he's cooled out. That's my two cents!

  9. i grew up being told to give them time to digest, but i question a lot of that now. that said tho - izzy only eats about 1/2 lb balancer, so, uh, not a whole lot to worry about there lol


Thanks for commenting! It's great to hear from you.