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3 april 2023 Reading time 1 minutes

The role of equine nutrition in 100 years of KNHS

The KNHS is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year. A period in which a huge amount has happened in the field of horse nutrition. "Especially in the last 20 years," says Fenna Westerduin, equine welfare policy officer at the KNHS. "As a federation, we know quite a lot, but in the field of horse nutrition we are happy with the expertise of our partner Pavo." Westerduin agrees that great strides have been made, but also realises that there is still plenty to do when it comes to horse nutrition knowledge among members. 

When Westerduin looks at 100 years of horse nutrition within the KNHS, there is actually very little to tell about the early years. "In the old days, when horses had worked in the fields, they were often given oats. I think the spiked version. Now we know that spiked oats don't actually do much for a horse. Also in the pastures there was rich grass, they were real cow pastures." 

The real developments in horse nutrition took place mostly in the last 20 years. "We now know much more about exactly how a horse's digestive system works. The focus has become much more on feeding good roughage. There have also been many developments in the field of concentrate feed, this has become much more specialised. Much more focused on the use purpose of the horse." 

Horse welfare

The KNHS sees it as its duty to provide horse owners with good information about feeding their horses. An important element in the context of horse welfare. "Pavo is also really committed to sharing knowledge, and that suits the KNHS. We still have work to do together. We see that by now people are already much more aware of what they are feeding, and not only in terms of concentrate, but also whether the roughage suits their horse's intended use. Analysing roughage has become much more normal. However, we do notice that especially people who have been keeping horses for years are often concerned with the concentrate feed, but less with the roughage. For instance, there are plenty of stables where horses just get another scoop of pellets in their feed trough in the morning, whereas we know it is much better to start with roughage. Matter of 'we have always done it this way and it works'. That group of horse owners is the hardest to reach. Therein lies a challenge that we are happy to take up together with Pavo. New horse owners are much more eager to learn and easier to reach," Westerduin knows. 

Pavo is proud to have been a knowledge partner of the KNHS since 2016 and together to raise the level of knowledge about horse nutrition among equestrian athletes.