There is no doubt that training and competing place stress on the horse’s digestive system and the aim of those feeding and managing working horses is therefore to find a balance between health and performance.
Feeding sympathetically is key and using as much fibre as possible and keeping cereals to a minimum will help to promote a healthy digestive system and reduce the risk of issues such as ulcers and laminitis. Nutritionists are one element of the team of people that can help you to maximise your horse’s potential so make use of the advice and information that is available to you.
The first step is to help her break down the fibrous part of her diet as efficiently as possible. Using a digestive supplement that contains ingredients such as yeast and prebiotics will help to establish a healthy population of microbes in the gut that the horse relies on to digest fibre. The more energy the horse can obtain from the fibre, the less need there is likely to be to use more concentrated sources of energy such as cereals.
The next step is to feed ad lib forage. Ad lib means that your horse always has forage available – so if you turned up at 3am would there still be some hay or haylage in their stable for them to eat? With regard to the bucket feed, select a feed high in fibre and oil as the main source of energy in the ration. Adding highly digestible fibre sources such as sugar beet (Dengie Alfa-Beet) is also beneficial and studies have shown also helps to improve the digestibility of other fibre sources in the diet. Additional high oil feeds such as micronized linseed can be added to provide more energy and should be used in preference to cereal based feeds.
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