How to feed sport horses

Feeding sport horses is often considered a challenge.

The nutritional needs of each horse vary depending on many factors such as body weight, age, physical condition, temperament, environment, and beyond.

However, there is something common to all sport horses in pursuit of high performance: training and activities often prove to be very intense and stressful and can negatively affect health and performance.

For this reason, nutrition and management of sport horses are two key aspects in warding off most training-related problems, whatever level of performance is required.

All-round management of nutrition affects several aspects of equine health, such as gastrointestinal function, hydration, electrolyte status, and muscle condition.

The purpose of this article is to propose an effective strategy to ensure the health of the horse along with excellent sports performance, thanks to the research and advice of Dr. Lizzie Drury, a veterinarian specializing in equine nutrition.

alimentazione cavallo sportivo cover harrison horse care

The importance of fiber for sport horses

Fiber (hay, silage hay, and pasture) should always form the basis of any horse’s diet. This is often overlooked, and lack of fiber increases the risk of gastric ulcers, gastro-intestinal problems, weight loss, and irritability.

In addition, fiber in the intestines helps to assimilate water and electrolytes, helping to avoid dehydration. Several researches have shown that horses that maintain a diet rich in fiber absorb water much better, thus being properly hydrated.

Recommended doses of hay-forage for sport horses are at least 1.5 percent of their body weight each day to meet their long-stem fiber requirements and to minimize digestive disorders.

For example, a horse weighing 550 kg should ideally take 8.25 to 11 kg of hay or at least 11 kg of silage hay per day.

Many companies that distribute horse feed offer a service to analyze the nutritional components of hay at a fairly low cost. This makes it possible to plan more specific feeding defined by the nutrient values of the hay-forage. A useful tip is also to weigh the hay-forage and also any leftovers over a period of time; this is to understand in detail what the actual fiber intake is. This can help solve any problems related to worsening physical or gastro-intestinal condition.

Ulcers and gastric problems common in sport horses

Traveling to participate in sporting competitions can lead to horses going without food for quite prolonged times. This causes an accumulation of acid in the stomach and increases the risk of stomach ulcers, which adversely affects sports performance.

When traveling for competitions, it is important to allow the horse to eat hay or have access to a net full of hay to stimulate saliva production.

Alfalfa is also a natural antacid and can be very helpful in neutralizing excess acid in the stomach.

Good support can be conferred by supplements and supplements, 100% natural if possible, designed specifically for sport horses, which are more prone to gastric discomfort and problems and require relief from irritation present in the gastro-intestinal system.

feeds suitable for performance horses harrison horse care

Feeds suitable for performance horses

Feeds and forages are critical to meeting the nutritional needs of performance horses competing in specific disciplines.

For strength-based exercise such as show jumping and/or dressage, feeds are critical to provide energy. In Saracen’s Performance range, the Competition-Fit Mix feed is the ideal feed in such cases.

  • Gastric and Intestinal Wellness
    competition fit mix saracen

    Saracen Horse Feeds

    Competition Fit Mix

    Feeding Feeds Performance Range

    24,00
  • Musculoskeletal Wellness
    enduro performance saracen

    Saracen Horse Feeds

    Enduro Performance

    Feeding Feeds Performance Range

    28,50

Horses that must sustain endurance activities, on the other hand, need easily digestible sources of fiber such as soybeans, sugar beet, and oil. Without neglecting the balance provided by grains and starch to ensure that glycogen stores in muscles remain constant. Saracen’s lines for sport horses include Enduro-Performance, which is useful for situations where a constant supply of energy is required.

If there is a need to feed the horse without burdening it with large calorie content while promoting body condition, you can use a balancer such as Competition-Fit Balancer. The latter is an excellent balancer that can provide all essential nutrients without overloading the digestive system and can be used as an addition to an existing diet or as the horse’s sole supply.

  • Gastric and Intestinal Wellness
    competition fit balancer harrison horse care cover

    Saracen Horse Feeds

    Competition Fit Balancer

    Balancers Feeding

    51,50

Saracen Horse Feeds are formulated to provide the horse with optimal nutrition by adhering to the doses recommended by the expert nutritionists who have studied and tested these lines. It is essential to weigh the feed to ensure proper, balanced and balanced nutrient intake, without assuming that the scoop contains 1 kg of feed; this is often not the case!

Proper feeding schedules during periods of competition

One of the most hotly debated issues is that of feeding times during times of races and competitions.

Heavy food rations should be avoided for at least three hours before activity in order to allow for intense exercise with associated changes in glycemic and insulin levels to basal levels.

Providing small amounts of forage or allowing the horse to graze for a limited time before exercise will help moderate body weight without having a negative effect on performance. In addition, this can help support and maintain proper digestion when competing.

horse feeding during competition periods harrison horse care

Water and Electrolytes

Before embarking on longer or shorter journeys, it is important to make arrangements for horses to stay properly hydrated. This aspect is often even more important than food.

Poor water intake leads the horse to dehydrate quickly and greatly affects health and performance.

It is always necessary to make sure that you have enough water available to take on the trip.

It is important to accustom the horse to drinking plenty of water during his daily routine, perhaps helping with flavoring to entice him to drink more.

In case your horse is disinclined to drink water while traveling or during periods of competition, a mash is definitely the solution, which steps in to cover the needs of horses that drink little but also more hydrated horses.

Re-Covery Mash is a highly palatable mash that is versatile and convenient to use in different situations. It contains a blend of “Super Fibers,” known for easy digestibility and providing energy without affecting temperament.

This product is an excellent source of electrolytes, a key component for promoting hydration. An excellent mix of nutrients that can aid digestion, improve nutrient assimilation, and properly hydrate under the most difficult conditions such as hot weather, excessive sweating, and intense activity.

Re-Covery Mash also contains live yeast that can support intestinal flora and stabilize the pH of the gastro-intestinal system, and is a source of Vitamin E to support optimal muscle function.To be administered, it must be soaked before use for 5-10 minutes, in warm water, or 15-20 minutes, in cold water. The amount of water to be added will depend on the individual horse’s condition and specific needs (always following the advice of an experienced nutritionist).

  • Musculoskeletal Wellness
    re-covery mash harrison horse care cover

    Saracen Horse Feeds

    Re-Covery Mash

    Feeding Mash

    30,00

The importance of antioxidants

Travel, whether long or short, causes stress to all horses, even the more accustomed ones that show no symptoms. After traveling, muscle enzymes almost always increase, which can cause muscle pain and can raise stress hormone levels. Together these factors can have a negative effect on the immune function of horses. To help solve this problem that affects horses that travel and compete often, we suggest incorporating additional antioxidants into the daily diet.

Antioxidants help maintain good immune function and also support the cardiovascular, circulatory, muscular and reproductive systems.

Horses that travel regularly can deplete their antioxidant reserves fairly quickly during travel and recovery from activities. It can take a long time to reestablish these levels, and this condition can cause a drop in energy and a deterioration in the quality of performance.

The most important antioxidants in the horse’s body are vitamin E and selenium. Feedstuffs tend to contain a good level of selenium, so we do not recommend adding any to his ration because horses can easily suffer from excess amounts of selenium developing toxic levels.

However, we suggest adding a vitamin E supplement to the ration because, unlike selenium, there is no known level of toxicity for Vitamin E in horses, and research shows the great benefits of supplementing this component within the diet.

  • Musculoskeletal Wellness
    Nano-E vitamin e supplement harrison horse care cover

    Kentucky Equine Research

    Nano-E®

    Feeding Supplements

    95,00

Nano-E, a natural Vitamin E supplement, is available in our range of supplements. Many supplements available on the market are based on synthetic vitamin E. Natural vitamin E supplementation, on the other hand, is more easily absorbed by the horse and is retained in the tissues longer than synthetic supplements.

Nano-E can be used for a couple of days before, on the day of travel, and for a couple of days afterwards. This will help increase antioxidant levels in the body, helping the horse recover from the journey faster and helping to sustain optimal energy levels without affecting performance.

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