Horses - Diet and Nutrition/Race horse Diet

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Question
I am looking for a healthy diet for my race horses. I started last year and no one would really help me out. I want my horses to have the energy to run 3/4 mile no problem. I have excellent horses that came from excellent blood lines. I just need the help to create a diet for them. I am looking to put in the extra for my horses, I love them to death and I want them to be the healthiest they can be. I have been reading lots on all the different feeds formulated for racehorses, I just want to know what my best option would be..

My horses will be stabled at an indoor arena where, they get turned out in small pens during the day. Right now they are out in the pasture on alfalfa, I will be bringing them in to train in January. Please help me to create a proper diet for these 2. I would really appreciate your help, I am just not sure which is the best fit for me?

Answer
Hi Kailene,

Thank you for your question.  Diets for racehorses in training and racing can be far more complicated than those for pasture ornaments, no question!  The issue becomes providing a diet that is nutrient dense enough to support their workload while ensuring the diet is still safe for their digestive systems.  

It is going to be important to source the best quality forage you can find...and by that I mean the most nutrient dense forage. Traditionally forages are less energy dense than grain, and in an attempt to get as much energy as possible into the racehorse owners often revert to diets too rich in grain and too short in forage.  By sourcing a good quality energy dense hay, you are able to make use of the forage for both gut health and energy...and don't need to feed too much grain. A clean, dust free first or second (or both) cut alfalfa hay would be a good start.

Although good quality hay is a good starting point, it will not provide a racehorse with a complete diet.  You're likely going to need to provide additional energy and protein. Energy can come from many sources; digestible fiber, non-structural carbohydrates (starch and sugar) and fat.  You're going to want to use a variety of these sources for energy while your horses are in training and when they are racing .  I generally don't recommend feeding starch (grains) to most horses but racehorses are one of the groups that really need to have some in their diets.  So you can put together your own combination of sources...but that could get complicated if you don't have some help to balance the rations.  So instead I would suggest that you try Agribrand Purina's Trimax feed.  It is designed to bring highly digestible fiber, controlled starch and fat to a performance horse diet.  It is also balanced to bring quality amino acids (for muscle development) and proper mineral balance to the diet. Trimax is a high performance and racehorse feed.

Supplying enough dietary protein, and more importantly essential amino acids, to the diet will ensure your horse's develop enough muscle to sustain racing.  More muscle = more strength and endurance = winning races.  Balancing amino acids is not easy to do...so again choose a feed like Trimax that has been formulated to do just that.

Mineral balance will also be essential for ensuring bone density, joint and tissue health, and energy metabolism. Consider adding a mineral/vitamin supplement to your feed program to balance mineral, but be sure you're feeding only what you need.  Too much mineral is not much better than too little.

Working with a qualified nutritionist may be invaluable for you, and provide you the winning edge.  An equine nutrition consultant will be able to help you formulate safe and balanced rations, select appropriate feeds and troubleshoot nutrition-based performance issues. If you are having trouble finding someone in your area, check out some of my own services at www.rationexperts.webs.com.

Thanks, Corlena  

Horses - Diet and Nutrition

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Corlena Patterson

Expertise

I can help with any of your horse nutrition questions and concerns. I have been involved with horses for closing on 40 years, with a B.Sc in Animal Science and currently working on an M.Sc in Equine Science with the University of Edinburgh. I have owned my own feed store, consulted professionally as an equine nutritionist, and lectured in the fields of equine and dairy nutrition at the University level for 5 years. I have developed and currently market 'Ration-X', a ration formulation program for horses...designed for the everyday horse owner. I am happy to help in any way I can.

Experience

Experienced in developing and implementing feed programs for horses of all disciplines, creating custom horse supplements and managing inter-disciplinary equine facilities. Specialize in equine nutrition consulting.

Organizations
The American Society of Equine Appraisers

Publications
'Stable Management' Handbook, Equine Canada.

Education/Credentials
M.Sc (Equine Science-current), B.Sc(Agr) Animal Science, Equine Sports Massage Therapy Certification, Farrier Certification, Equine Consultant Certification, Certified Equine Appraiser, Certified in Emergency Equine Rescue.

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