If you’re hoping to do more with your horse, you should also consider what changes you may have to make to his diet. Stephanie George, nutritionist at Saracen Horse Feeds shares her tips to get your horse fit and ready to compete regularly.
Requirements for individual horses will vary according to factors such as bodyweight, body condition score, environmental factors, the discipline you compete in, and rider ability, but fibre – hay, haylage and pasture – should always form the basis of any horse’s diet.
A lack of fibre will increase the incidence of gastric ulcers, wood chewing, loose droppings and weight loss.
Additionaly, fibre in the hindgut traps water and electrolytes and helps to combat dehydration. Performance horses should receive a minimum of 1.5-2% of their bodyweight and more if you’re feeding haylage.
An increasing number of performance diets are now available that have been designed to meet the nutritional requirements of horses performing in specific disciplines.
Performance feeds are formulated to provide your horse with optimum nutrition when fed at the recommended quantity, though, so make sure that you weigh your feed to ensure the correct intake.
If you need to feed below the manufacturer’s recommended levels (to help manage body condition, for example), use a feed balancer to ensure nutrient intake is consistent.
Travelling and competing can mean that horses go for prolonged periods without anything to eat.
This leads to a build-up of gastric acid in the stomach and increases the chance of gastric ulcers, which will reduce performance.
Allow your horse to regularly graze or pick at a bayonet to stimulate saliva production.
Alfafa is a natural antacid, so frequent bites of alfalfa chaff will help to neutralise excess stomach acid, especially if fed 30 minutes before riding.
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