Dodson & Horrell – Does a horse in hard work need feeding differently? 

Horses competing and training regularly have vastly different requirements to horses with lighter workloads. For horses where calorie content is mainly met by their fibre intake, a balancer is a brilliant way of ensuring your horse receives optimum nutrition, to not only support performance but also their overall health. 

Horses that are working hard, being ridden daily, along with faster paced work is where the workload becomes classified as hard, and the nutritional requirements of the horse can change. Certain minerals and vitamins have a greater requirement to support an increase in workload. When in faster work there is an increased calcium requirement for instance to support the additional stresses placed the bone structure of the horse. The ratio of one mineral to another is more important than just an increase in the amounts included within the diet. Dodson & Horrell Performance balancer provides the correct balance of vitamins and minerals to support a harder workload. 

Intense training and schooling puts stress on many areas of the horses’ body, and the musculoskeletal system is one of those areas. Optimum joint health is crucial in allowing a horse to continue performing at its best, and ongoing, preventative nutritional support is the best way to support your equine athlete. MSM, or methylsulfonylmethane, is a compound which has been found to have positive effects for joint health. Glucosamine is a compound which occurs naturally in connective tissue, at 10g/ day for a 500kg horse, it has been seen to reduce cartilage breakdown and encourage healing. Dodson & Horrell Performance Balancer contains a combination of both Glucosamine and MSM to support the musculoskeletal system. Just 500g of balancer per day provides 10g of glucosamine and 4g of MSM.

Antioxidants are also an important consideration for performance horses. Performance Balancer includes QLC Antioxidant package plus excellent levels of Vitamin E and Vitamin C to support normal muscle function and recovery. 

Performance horses who travel regularly have been shown to benefit from both prebiotic and probiotic supplementation. Because they are often at more risk of digestive upset due to the stress associated with long periods travelling, changes in forage and longer periods without grazing. A heavy reliance on preserved forages also alters the need for hindgut supplementation. 

Prebiotics are defined as any substance added to the diet which preferentially stimulates the growth of beneficial microorganisms in the hind-gut. They are a group of complex poly-saccharides, including Fructo-oligosaccharides (FOS) and Mannan-oligosaccharides (MOS). As well as having positive effects on the microbial population by encouraging growth of beneficial bacteria, MOS has also been reputed to bind to pathogenic bacteria in the hindgut, thereby preventing them from binding to the horse’s hindgut; potentially reducing risk of infection. 

In contrast, Probiotics are live microorganisms, and the products they produce; when fed in adequate amounts they present a benefit to the overall health of the host, predominantly through their positive influence on the microbial flora of the GI tract. 

The addition of probiotic yeasts to a horse’s diet has been found to increase fermentative capacity of the hindgut, therefore allowing the horse to utilise more nutrients from the fibre portion of their diet..  It is important that when adding probiotics into the diet, that you ensure they are a in a protected form. This essentially means that they will not be susceptible to degradation in the foregut of the horse, and will remain in a live and viable state to have a biological benefit in the hindgut. 

Increased workload on muscles increases the requirement for amino acids (constituents of protein), to facilitate healthy muscle repair and recovery from exercise. Not only is the quantity of protein important, but also the quality. Ensuring that limiting amino acids such as lysine and methionine are present ensures that the horse is able to fully utilise the protein provided in the diet to support healthy muscle maintenance. 

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