A performance horse is any horse that is asked to engage in regular exercise. This may be frequent trail rides, riding lessons, ranch work, driving, racing, or any number of competitive disciplines. The demands of performance put stresses on a horse's body above and beyond those normally encountered by idle horses. The most notable difference is that the energy requirement of performance horses may increase significantly.
The body of the horse is well adapted to storing and mobilizing energy from various types of nutrients, such as fiber, starch, sugar, and fat. Once a horse is in steady work, whether it is light, moderate, or intense, special attention should be given to the diet to ensure adequate energy (calories) and optimal levels of key nutrients are supplied. The harder the horse works and the longer the duration of exercise, the more vitamins and minerals the horse requires. Unfortunately, hay and cereal grains alone are low in certain vitamins and minerals needed for optimal performance, so if a fortified concentrate is not being fed as directed or if straight cereal grains are fed, supplementation can be a necessity for many performance horses.
Performance and the changes in diet and management that are made to facilitate a training and competition schedule put the horse at risk for problems such as degenerative joint disease, stereotypical behaviors, and digestive issues such as gastric ulcers and hindgut acidosis. Additionally, due to the increased workload and sweating, the horse loses certain minerals, called electrolytes, at an increased rate and special attention must be made to replenishing them to avoid negative effects on performance. Instead of waiting for these problems to make themselves known, the best way to manage horses to support optimal performance and longevity is to identify risk factors that may contribute to problems and take steps to prevent the problems from occurring through proactive supplementation.
Muscle contractions during work leads to the production of free radicals, which can cause oxidative damage to muscle cells. Certain nutrients act as antioxidants, battling these free radicals and enhancing cellular defenses to reduce the risk of muscle damage and support improved recovery.
The stress of intense exercise on bones during a performance may slightly increase the need for minerals important in bone integrity such as calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, copper, and zinc.
Finally, the old adage, “no hoof, no horse” is a truism that mustn’t be overlooked. Some horses need a little help to keep their hooves in tip-top condition.
When managing the performance horse, ask yourself, have you provided and does your horse need:
- Digestive tract support? - Electrolyte replacement? - Protection from oxidative damage? - Support for joint health? - Support for bone health? - Support for optimal hoof and coat health?
Which solutions are right for your horse?
Bio-Bloom™ PSPrescription strength hoof and coat conditioner. A dual-action supplement designed to promote and maintain healthy skin, coat, and hoof condition from the inside out.
EquiShure®Time-released hindgut buffer. Developed to combat hindgut acidosis, this innovative, one-of-a-kind delivery system allows for the buffering of the hindgut, the site of fermentation in the horse. Choose EquiShure to reduce the risk of hindgut acidosis escalating to laminitis in horses receiving significant intakes of starch laden grains as well as those grazing high-fructan pastures, including those at risk for or with a history of laminitis.
Nano-Q10™Antioxidant for horses in training. Coenzyme Q10 is a powerful antioxidant that improves aerobic energy generation while protecting against exercise-induced muscle damage. Nano-Q10™ is a rapidly absorbed source of coenzyme Q10 that is three times more bioavailable than the powdered crystalline form.
Restore® PasteBuffered electrolyte paste. Restore Paste is an easy-to-administer paste that includes a buffering agent designed to support oral and gastrointestinal comfort in horses. Choose Restore Paste when rapid replacement of electrolytes (especially during ongoing exercise) or thirst stimulation is desired. Keep a few tubes stocked in your saddle bag, medical kit, or trailer for use when your horse needs them most.
Synovate HA®Liquid sodium hyaluronate. Synovate HA provides horses with a safe, highly digestible form of sodium hyaluronate for the support of healthy joint function in horses. Choose Synovate HA to promote healthy cartilage and optimal synovial fluid viscosity for proactive management of joint health.
Triacton™Bone and digestive health support. Triacton is a triple-action supplement designed to improve bone density and support digestive health in horses. The pelleted supplement contains an array of highly bioavailable minerals and vitamins essential for sound skeletal development and maintenance, as well as optimal function of the gastrointestinal tract.