FAQs about feeding horses for competition
What can I feed my horse to increase his stamina?
Assuming work and fitness levels are suitable, if the diet is not balanced it is likely to be lacking in essential vitamins and minerals which can be causing the horse to feel a little lacklustre. These nutrients are needed by the body to release the energy content from the rest of the diet as well as for general health and well-being. Ensuring the diet is fully-balanced at all times will help make sure the horse is not lacking and so feels more willing and able to perform. Horses on a fully balanced diet who need more stamina, can be fed oil which is slow release, non-heating and has a glycogen sparing effect.
What do I feed my horse on competition day?
Ideally, your horses diet and routine will stay as close to normal as possible. Give breakfast as normal and avoid doing anything to indicate that it’s a competition day until the horse has eaten up. Then travel the horse with a net of hay or haylage to maintain fibre intake. On returning home, the horse should also receive his normal feed as normal, even if the following day will be a day off, the exertions of the competition will have drawn on nutrient reserves which need replenishing.
My horse needs the calorie intake of a competition horse but he just gets too fizzy! What are the alternatives?
Where a calmer approach is required, choosing a high energy cube, like top line conditiong cubes, is a good alternative. These are designed to be highly digestible and non-heating with levels of other nutrients to support performance to the highest levels. For sharp or stressy horses, the high oil and high fibre content of all round endurance mix is ideal for providing slow release energy, quality protein, vitamins and minerals to support performance.
Do you know the 10 golden rules for feeding?
1. Feed little and often (horses are trickle feeders and need to ensure the digestive system keeps working properly)
2. Feed plenty of bulk (roughage, hay/haylage, grass)
3. Feed according to the size and weight of the individual horse (more work requires more energy and more food)
4. Introduce new feed gradually (bacteria in the large intestine break down the feed and they have to adapt to any changes in the diet. Sudden changes can cause some bacteria to die, produce poisons and cause metabolic disorders)
5. Keep your daily feed routine the same (horses thrive on routine)
6. Feed something succulent each day (succulents like apples and carrots help to maintain the horse’s interest and adds moisture to the feed)
7. Do not ride one hour before or after feeding your horse hard feed (a full stomach will put pressure on the lungs and affect the horse’s breathing. Fast work results in redistribution of the blood in the body, leading to impaired digestion)
8. Provide a constant supply of fresh water (if this is not possible, ensure that the horse is watered before feeding so that undigested food is not washed through the digestive system too rapidly)
9. Ensure all feed utensils/ buckets are cleaned (horses are fastidious feeders and can be easily deterred from eating)
10. Keep a check on your horse’s condition.