During Robert Scott's British Antarctic Expedition (1910-1913), they used ponies in many cases to haul supplies across the ice.

What exactly did the ponies eat?

I've found many references to the fact that their food had to be carried along by the expedition, but I haven't been able to find out what exactly that food was. Normally, horses eat a mix of roughage (like grass or hay) along with something more nutritious, like corn or oats.

1 Answer 1


According to a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society in this article they used a mix of outs, corn and a meat-based supplement.

To overcome the horse’s need for bulk grass based feed, Shackleton arranged to purchase ten tons of compressed fodder consisting of oats, bran and chaff. He also took a large stock of corn. Yet upon the advice of the British military establishment, Shackleton decided to enhance his horses’ normal diet with a special meat-based supplement known as “Maujee Ration.” This was a distinctive type of equine pemmican developed at Aldershot, one of England’s most important military establishments.

Sir Ernest recalled, “It consisted of dried beef, carrots, milk, currents and sugar, and was chosen because it provides a large amount of nourishment with comparatively little weight.” (Heart of the Antarctic by Sir Ernest Shackleton, 1909.)

Shackleton set off for the Pole with three comrades and four of the original ten horses. Each of the Manchurian horses pulled a twelve-foot sledge carrying an average of 650 pounds. Like Jackson before him, Shackleton praised his horses.

He wrote, “compared to the dog, the pony is a far more efficient animal, one pony doing the work of at least ten dogs and travelling a further distance in a day…… It was trying work for the ponies but they all did splendidly in their own particular way.”

The harsh weather and unforgiving terrain caused the men and horses to struggle alike through the cold and snow. Nevertheless, Shackleton made a startling observation. The horses preferred to eat the meat-based ration rather than the traditional fodder. They even threw corn out of their nosebags, scattering it on the ground, in anger at being denied the Maujee ration.

  • The info looks fine, but there's something about that site that's setting off my crank-detecting senses.
    – Joe
    Jan 11, 2016 at 21:21
  • @Joe Agreed but obsessives with a (meat-eating?) hobby-horse often produce the most detailed websites. Jan 12, 2016 at 10:51
  • Carnivorous horses. Give us blood and meat! Jan 12, 2016 at 21:29
  • You guys all realize that animal by-products in agricultural feed pretty standard prior to the whole BSE/"Mad Cow" thing in the 1990s and is still fairly common for non-ruminants today, right?
    – Doug B
    Jan 13, 2016 at 12:34
  • That's not what's setting off my crank senses here.
    – Joe
    Jan 13, 2016 at 16:31

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