Feeding performance horses can be a challenge, and the requirements for individual horses will vary according to body weight, condition score, discipline, environmental factors and rider ability. In addition, all performance horses will train and compete under stressful conditions at times, and for these reasons appropriate feeding strategies are of critical importance, whatever level a horse is competing at.
Regularly monitor and record your horse’s body weight and condition score – this will help you to accurately calculate nutritional requirements for performance and to achieve and maintain optimum competition weight.
Fibre should always form the basis of the diet, whether this is hay, haylage or grass. A lack of fibre may result in gastric ulcers, loss of weight and irritability. Additionally, fibre in the hindgut traps water and electrolytes which will help combat dehydration. It is recommended that performance horses receive at least 1.5% of their bodyweight per day of forage, more if you are feeding haylage.
Performance diets are increasingly more discipline-specific. For power based disciplines such as showjumping and dressage, feeds need to have more emphasis on providing energy from starch based ingredients such as oats and barley, whereas for stamina work such as endurance and cross country, there will be a greater need for digestible fibre sources such as soya hulls and sugar beet, balanced with enough cereal and starch to ensure that muscle glycogen stores remain topped up.
Saracen feeds are formulated to provide your horse with optimum nutrition when fed at the recommended quantity. Make sure you weight your feed to ensure correct intakes. A balancer such as Bio-Life 2000 can be used if levels require adjustment to manage body condition.
Concentrate feeds should be avoided for at least three hours before heavy exercise to allow for increases in blood glucose and insulin to return to baseline levels. Small amounts of forage or limited grazing time prior to exercise will moderate body weight and does not appear to have a diverse effect on performance.
Salt & Electrolytes
In addition to a correct electrolyte programme, a salt lick should be provided and at least 2-3 ounces of salt added to the feed per day. Electrolytes play a critical role in the nutritional programme of a performance horse, since they play a role in maintaining osmotic pressure, fluid balance and nerve and muscle activity.
Saracen Horse Feeds Product Range
Saracen Horse Feeds' Performance Range has been formulated using the latest research and ingredient technology available, which we bring to the UK through our unique partnership with American facility, Kentucky Equine Research (KER).