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 fibre, 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 behaviours, 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 defences 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® HFPremium hoof formula pellet for hoof health and coat condition. Bio-Bloom HF is a dual-action supplement designed to improve skin and coat condition, and promote healthy hoof growth from the inside out. It is the ideal hoof and coat conditioner for horses that need to be presented at their best for show, sale, or parade.
EquiShure®Time-released hindgut balancer. EquiShure promotes normal digestive function by aiding in the maintenance of an optimal hindgut environment and is designed for horses suspected of suffering from or that are at risk of developing hindgut acidosis.
Nano-Q10™Coenzyme Q10 antioxidant for horses. Coenzyme Q10 is a powerful antioxidant, protecting cells from highly reactive chemicals called free radicals that can damage cells and their DNA. Nano-Q10 features advanced nanotechnology to create a rapidly available and absorbed source of Coenzyme Q10 that has been shown to be 3X more bioavailable than powdered ubiquinone.
Restore® PasteBuffered oral electrolyte paste for horses that sweat. A carefully formulated electrolyte paste to match the composition of sweat. Restore Paste is an easy-to-administer product that includes a buffering agent designed to support gastrointestinal comfort in horses.
Synovate HA®Premium joint supplement. Synovate HA delivers high molecular weight sodium hyaluronate in an easy-to-use liquid.
Triacton®Bone and digestive health support. Triacton is a research-proven, triple-action supplement designed to improve bone density and support digestive health in horses.