Equine Nutrition in the United States: A Review of Perceptions and Practices of Horse Owners and Veterinarians

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Abstract

Nutrition plays a critical role in equine health. The horse owner and/or manager has a multitude of equine nutrition sources available to them, with preferences for how, and from whom, this information is delivered. Despite this, poor feeding practices continue to negatively affect the health, wellness, and welfare of equids and have a detrimental impact on the environment. The veterinarian is the primary expected source of equine nutrition information; yet, little is known about their recognition and acceptance of such a role. Doubt has arisen concerning the quality and provision of nutrition education within the veterinary curriculum and subsequent continuing education. Moreover, the value equine nutrition education plays in the veterinarian's practice philosophy, and the resulting provision of such in clinical practice, remains under evaluated. This review examines the present state of equine nutrition and how horses are being fed in practice, in the United States. It considers feeding horses from the horse owner's perspective and the expected role the veterinarian plays in such. Last, it goes on to evaluate this expected role from the veterinarian's perspective, examining how current nutrition education and practices may be falling short and offering recommendations for future research.

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