The goal of any nutritional program is to provide a performance horse with a well-balanced diet that protects their health and supports them to reach their full athletic potential. In this article, we share the two steps for feeding your performance horse.
It’s important to remember that nutrition doesn’t have to be complex. There are seven fundamental ingredients that every horse needs in their diet, regardless of their workload. These include:
Step 1: A Well-Balanced Diet
For the performance horse — just like the pleasure horse — a diet is only truly well-balanced if it contains all of these ingredients. So, let’s explore these further:
- Vitamins and Minerals: Vitamins and minerals have been grouped together to emphasise both are fundamental ingredients for sustaining performance. Without sufficient vitamins and minerals, even small deficiencies can limit your horse’s athletic potential. To learn more, click here.
- Fibre: Fibre is arguably the most important ingredient in any horse’s diet. Every horse should receive a forage-first diet that is comprised primarily of roughage sources to assist in preventing dehydration, colic, gastric ulcers, behavioural problems, and more. To learn more, click here.
- Fats: Fats, usually given in oil form, improve body condition, without promoting hot, fizzy behaviours typically associated with high-grain diets. Unsaturated fats, such as rice bran oil, provide your performance horse with readily digestible energy. To learn more, click here.
- Protein: The amino acids that make up protein are the building blocks of your performance horse’s muscles, skin, hair and hooves. When supplied in the diet, high quality protein repairs tissue and maintains healthy coat and hoof condition. To learn more, click here.
- Carbohydrates: Every performance horse requires energy, and both structural and non-structural carbohydrates play a role. In short, fibrous sources provide slow-release energy, while sugars and starches provide rapid-release energy. To learn more, click here.
- Water: The importance of water cannot be overestimated. Every horse must have continuous access to fresh, cleaning drinking water to remain hydrated, including in Winter.
Step 2: Feeding Strategies for Performance
Throughout the day, your performance horse should have unlimited access to free-choice roughage, such as hay or pasture. When adding commercial horse feeds, such as Running Cool, you should consider their workload.
- For performance horses in high intensity/short duration sports, their forage-first diet should be supported by carbohydrates for energy and protein for muscle repair, recovery and rebuilding.
- For performance horses in low intensity/long duration sports, their forage-first diet should be supported by fats for improved body condition and fibre for slow-release energy.
- For performance horses in moderate intensity/moderate duration sports, their forage-first diet will require a combination of carbohydrates, protein, fats and fibre, depending on the type of sport.
At Running Cool, we genuinely care about your horse’s health and wellbeing. Our superior horse feed range supports your horse at every stage of life with well-balanced vitamins, minerals and protein for pleasure and performance. Click here to learn more.