FEEDING THE ENDURANCE HORSE - Avoid loss of energy and dehydration!

 
 FEEDING THE ENDURANCE HORSE
 
The demands placed on an endurance horse is quite different from other performance disciplines within the equine sport. He requires feed which will allow him to draw heavily on his energy reserves; the water lost during extended exercise must be replaced to avoid dehydration. A horses body is made up of two thirds water and over a distance of 35 miles he can lose up to 10% of his body water! Any depletion in energy reserves, dehydration and electrolyte imbalances can cause fatigue, making management and feeding paramount, before, during and after an event. Water - It's essential for life!
 
To help him cope with the demands made upon him, the endurance horse needs to be fit and should not carry excess weight. An overweight or out of condition horse asked to undertake such strenuous work will struggle and has a higher risk of lameness or heat exhaustion. However, a horse that is too thin will have less energy reserves (stored fat) and will struggle over longer distances.
 
Slow Release Energy  

Fibre, an integral part of any horses diet (hay, grass, haylage) and oil are both excellent forms of slow release food providing energy and strength. Unmollased sugarbeet is high in fibre and also an excellent form of energy and has a high water content. 
  
The Use Of Electrolytes
 
Feeding electrolytes stimulates the horse to drink and replace the fluid lost in sweat and is especially important for the endurance horse. Electrolytes can be administered by syringe on in a mash feed. Note: A horse may refuse to drink water with the electrolytes added. It is essential a fresh bucket of water is also available for the horse to drink, under no circumstances must he go without water!

electrolytes copy
  
                         A tub of electrolyte - make sure you read the instructions and feed accordingly! Feeding Electrolytes Read more
 
Feeding The Night Before  

The horse should have access to ad lib hay, haylage or grass up to and prior to the event. Fibre is a bit like a sponge and will absorb and retain the water in the large intestine and is absorbed into the blood as and when needed.  The importance of feeding roughage and succulents  

During the Ride  

At each stopping place the horse should be immediately offered water and on longer rides a small grain feed such as oats, maize or barley, this should not exceed 2kgs.
Tip: Know how much water is normal for your horse to drink. You can then monitor their intake when away from home and avoid dehydration.
 
Carbohydrates  

The horse is unable to digest large amounts of starch based feed - starch is a carbohydrate. Feeding large amounts can increase the risk of digestive problems so should be offered in small quantities of no more than 2kgs per feed. However, it is an important energy source and forms an essential part of a balanced diet. Note! Feeding carbohydrates help prevent sugar levels dropping during prolonged exercise.  Feeding Cereals - Provide Energy, Feed With Caution! 
  
At The End Of The Ride
  
The horse should be offered water and good quality hay together with a small grain (starch based) feed which will help kick start the glycogen replenishment. This can take up to four days, providing the horse is fed it's normal diet and rested.

 Rest and relaxation is key to successful post ride management.
 

FEEDING IS NOT PRESCRIPTIVE AND EACH HORSE IS DIFFERENT. AGE, TEMPREMENT, BREED ARE JUST A FEW CONSIDERATIONS. FOR MORE INFORMATION -  For lots more feeding advice Read more  


  

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