Nutrition is a fundamental part of your horse’s health, wellbeing and performance. In this new series, we discuss the components of correct nutrition to help you formulate a healthy, well-balanced diet for your performance horse or pony.
In Part 1, we examine two of the most commonly overlooked ingredients that are vital to sustaining performance - vitamins and minerals.
Vitamins and minerals play a critical role in growth, immune and reproductive function for all horses. Without an adequate daily intake of vitamins and minerals, deficiencies can rapidly deplete your horse’s health and performance.
But, what exactly are vitamins and minerals? And, why are they so important?
There are two types of vitamins - those that are fat-soluble and those that are water-soluble.
As their name suggests, fat-soluble vitamins are stored in the fatty deposits of the body. The main fat-soluble vitamins found in your horse’s diet are vitamins A, D and E. These are responsible for vision, calcium absorption and regulation, and antioxidant protection for cells, including muscle.
Water-soluble vitamins are often referred to as B-vitamins and these include thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, biotin and folic acid. B-vitamins are involved in nearly every chemical reaction in the body, and are vital for growth, metabolism and energy.
Broadly speaking, minerals can be divided into two classifications - macro and micro.
Macro-minerals are required in large amounts in your horse’s diet. These include:
These macro-minerals are essential for skeletal development, muscle contraction, acid-base balance, supporting the nervous system, and healthy hoof and hair growth.
In contrast, micro-minerals are only required in small amounts in your horse’s diet. These include:
While only small amounts are needed, their importance shouldn’t be underestimated.
These micro-minerals assist in many chemical reactions within the body, including metabolism, maintaining connective joint and muscle tissue, transporting oxygen and antioxidant protection.
Vitamin and Mineral Deficiencies
The difficulty with vitamin and mineral deficiencies is they often go unnoticed until they become severe. While a forage-first diet is imperative for every horse, even your pasture or hay sources may be low in certain vitamins and minerals.
The easiest way to prevent vitamin and mineral deficiencies that may affect your horse’s health and performance is to feed a well-balanced concentrate, such as Running Cool, that is guaranteed to contain the right blend of vitamins and minerals in every bag.
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.