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?
DuraPlex®. Bone mineralization supplement. Ideal for horses who spend the bulk of their time stabled, including those transitioning to a management program that includes significant time spent stabled, those undergoing a convalescent period (lay-ups), and those that have sustained a bone injury or recovering from surgery.
EO•3™. Omega-3 supplement. EO•3 is a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA, compounds found to optimize the well-being of all horses, regardless of age or use. Specifically DHA and EPA supplementation has been shown to mediate inflammation as well as reduce osteoarthritis. Choose EO•3 to promote a more natural balance of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids in the body and to support the benefits this balance of fatty acids can confer on joint health.
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.
KER•Flex®. Oral joint supplement. KER•Flex contains a synergistic blend of glucosamine HCl and chondroitin sulfate to provide broad-spectrum support of joint health in a palatable powder. Choose KER•Flex when support of healthy joint cartilage for performance longevity is the primary goal.
Micro-Max™. Ration fortifier. Micro-Max is a low-intake concentrated source of vitamins and minerals for mature horses. Micro-Max is ideal for horses that maintain body weight on diets of forage and small amounts of concentrate. The use of Micro-Max ensures that all vitamin and mineral requirements of mature horses and ponies are satisfied. Because of its low feeding rate, Micro-Max can be fed by itself or mixed with a concentrate.
Nano•E®. Nanodispersed, liquid natural-source vitamin E supplement. Nano•E provides highly bioavailable natural (d-α-tocopherol), water soluble source of vitamin E to horses through a unique delivery system. Recommended for horses that spend a significant portion of their time in stalls or otherwise confined, performance horses, horses whose forage intake is largely from hay rather than pasture, those with neurological problems, those experiencing stress, and convalescent horses.
Preserve™ PS. Prescription strength antioxidant supplement. Preserve PS provides superior antioxidant protection with natural-source vitamin E, organic selenium, vitamin C, and magnesium. Preserve PS is ideal for supporting muscle recovery after work, promoting optimal immune function, and providing nutrients that may be lacking in regions with selenium-deficient soils.
Restore® SR. Slow-release electrolyte powder. Restore SR contains the latest technology in electrolyte therapy, including a proprietary slow-release mechanism that allows sodium to be released gradually into the gastrointestinal tract for sustained absorption. Choose Restore SR for daily replacement of electrolytes lost in sweat.
Restore® Paste. Buffered 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.
RiteTrac™. Total digestive tract support. A proprietary blend of ingredients designed to support total digestive tract health. Targeted at both the foregut and hindgut of the horse, RiteTrac works in two distinct ways. First, with its combination of fast-acting antacids and coating agents, RiteTrac quickly neutralizes excessive gastric acid, protecting the stomach lining and restoring the normal gastric environment. Second, RiteTrac contains EquiShure, a time-released hindgut buffer designed to act on the cecum and colon by minimizing the effects of subclinical hindgut acidosis.
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.
Learn moreMatching Horse Diets to Performance Demands
Energy and the Performance Horse
The Best Time to Feed Before Competition
Feeding Management of Athletic Horses in Stressful Conditions
Practical Nutrition Management for Stables
Feeding Your Horse for Show Ring Success