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The Sports Horse

Competition horses are often in increasing

levels of work whilst being required to

maintain condition and fitness over a long

competition season. As you start to increase

their workload the plane of nutrition

also needs to increase to provide enough

energy and nutrients to support muscle and

improving fitness. However, it is better to

increase workload prior to increasing the

plane of nutrition. This will avoid undesired

weight gain or excitable behaviour. Again

long fibre should form the bulk of the diet as

this is essential for a healthy digestive tract.

Increased energy requirements can be met

with the addition of concentrate feeds. It may

be simplest to feed compound feeds which

are specifically blended for a certain level of

work. This ensures that undigested starches

do not enter the hindgut where they can

cause colic or laminitis, and that your money

is not wasted as any starches entering the

hindgut are not utilised fully. Feeds containing

oils are great at providing additional calories

without high levels of starch; oils also provide

slow release energy over a number of hours

so can help maintain energy during longer

periods of work.

The Poor Doer

If in moderate or heavy work, the correct diet

is even more important to maintain weight or

encourage weight gain. As well as supplying

enough calories, providing the appropriate

levels of vitamins and minerals for the

workload is also important. If in light work,

a higher energy diet is still required to

encourage weight gain, however higher

levels of vitamins and minerals are not

required. Fibre based feeds which provide

slow release energy are ideal in this situation.

High fibre, highly digestible feeds such as

sugar beet and alfalfa are good options. A

prebiotic can enhance the digestive tract to

get the most out of the fibre being fed.

The Fizzy Horse

Firstly ensure that the fizzy horse is not

fractious for any other reason, such as poorly

fitting tack which may be causing discomfort,

or an underlying ailment, for example gastric


(see page 9)

. The fizzy horse often

struggles to maintain condition due to burning

calories via displaying unwanted behaviours,

and cannot usually cope with an increased

workload. The right feed for the right

workload is key, feeding a high energy feed

to a horse only being hacked a couple of

times of week will lead to excess energy

which can lead to fizzy behaviour. A lower

energy feed is often the answer which can

be topped up with a balancer to ensure the

correct levels of vitamins, minerals and

protein. Prebiotics have been found to help

the temperament of some fizzy horses and

can be added to the feed.

In conclusion, regardless of the type of horse,

success lies in matching the diet with the level

of work and fitness required.