The spatial heterogeneity of grasslands determines the abundance and quality of food resources for grazing animals. As plants mature, they increase in mass, which allows greater instantaneous intake rates, but the cell wall concentrations increase too, reducing diet quality. In ruminants, daily intake rates are often constrained by the time needed for the ingesta to pass through the rumen, which is influenced by the rate of digestion. It has been suggested that the digestive constraint should have much less effect on hindgut fermenters such as equids. Horses play an increasing role in the management of grasslands in Europe, but the data on the influence of the heterogeneity of the vegetation on their daily intake and foraging behaviour are sparse. We report here the results of a preliminary study concerning the effects of sward structure on nutrient assimilation and the use of patches of different heights by horses grazing successively a short immature, a tall mature and a heterogeneous pastures (with short and tall swards). Daily nutrient assimilation was higher in the heterogeneous pasture compared to the short (+35%) and the tall (+55%) ones. The digestive constraints may have limited voluntary intake by horses on the tall swards. In the heterogeneous pasture, the mean height used for feeding (6 to 7 cm) by horses was intermediate between the heights used in the short (4 to 5 cm) and tall pastures (22 to 23 cm), and the animals may thus have benefited from both short swards of high quality and tall swards offering a higher instantaneous intake rate.