Feeding performance horses
Feeding performance horses can be likened to finely tuned machines. They can all too easily breakdown due to internal mechanic issues. Particularly when it comes to digestion. A horse’s digestive system is highly sensitive. Any compromises to that delicate environment will have significant effects on performance, appearance and temperament. Feeding, therefore, is a key contributing factor in digestive health in feeding performance horses. Even the environment, well-being and good husbandry can play a role. As performance horses often lose their appetite as they get fitter, this can also be disruptive to digestive health.
A nutrient-dense, high-quality feed balancer provides essential vitamins, minerals and nutrients needed on a daily basis. It enables smaller amounts of hard feed to be fed which is better for the digestive system. All three Fibregenix feed balancers contain an innovative nutrient supplement – Nucleotides which have a positive effect on digestive health. Nucleotides are considered an essential nutrient, as they are molecules that form the building blocks of DNA and RNA. They’re present in the horse’s natural diet, albeit at low levels and can’t be stored by the horse. During periods of strenuous activity or stress, nucleotides often become ‘limited’. So there are enormous benefits to adding them to the horse’s diet. The specific blend of purified nucleotides in Fibregenix is designed to balance the lower levels found in the diet.
Three main advantages of Nucleotides:
- Nucleotides increase the length and surface area of the intestinal villi. This aids nutrient absorption and ensures optimum digestive health and nutrient yield from the diet.
- Competition horses can often be affected by loose droppings as a result of poor digestive health or stress issues. Including nucleotides in the diet promotes a healthy gut environment by encouraging the beneficial bacteria to thrive.
- There’s a high cell turnover within the digestive system. Nucleotides promote cell replication of red blood cells. This will have a positive impact on performance, stamina and ongoing fitness levels enabling better recovery.
Fibregenix Platinum Pro
Platinum Pro contains performance-suited levels of nutrients, specifically formulated for performance horses which have a higher nutritional requirement for work. Protein, fibre, vitamins, minerals and a comprehensive hoof supplement are just one part of this multi-faceted balancer. Additional benefits are fatty acids for coat condition and skin health and a powerful combination of antioxidants. Stress can comprise digestion and the immune system so Platinum Pro contains a natural form of bioavailable Vitamin E. It’s an essential nutrient for the performance horse that is often under stress from the rigours of competing, training and travel. Platinum Pro additionally includes blood-building nutrients such as vitamin B12, folic acid and iron. These assist oxygen transportation to the working muscles.
Platinum Pro has a major focus on the digestive system of performance horses. Its Digestive Enhancer Pack consists of nucleotides and an approved live probiotic yeast supplement that doubles the digestibility of fibre in the diet. Doubling fibre digestibility can help to increase calorie intake which in turn maintains weight and condition.
The Gut Health Pack in Fibregenix consists of FOS and MOS prebiotics. The unique FOS in Fibregenix is a short chain of sugar molecules, providing a feed-source for the beneficial micro-organisms. The FOS prebiotic also reduces the risk of digestive problems and has a positive impact on immunity. Despite the presence of ‘good’ bacteria in the digestive system, harmful (pathogenic) bacteria can proliferate causing an unhealthy gut environment. Furthermore, the stress of competing/travelling will negatively affect the general health of the horse.
The MOS prebiotic can eliminate harmful bacteria. It mimics the cursor that the harmful bacteria bind to on the gut wall. Once these harmful bacteria have bound to the MOS they are rendered useless and ‘flushed out’ of the digestive system. This promotes the overall health of the digestive system.
Adding Platinum Pro to the diet of performance horses will ultimately better equip them to deal with the demands and stresses of a performance lifestyle. This means they will be able to perform and stay at their peak for longer.
Feeding the endurance horse – when nutrition is paramount
In many equine sports, it can be possible to get away without dotting all the I’s and crossing all the t’s in preparing the horse. But there is nowhere to hide at the top of endurance racing. When exercising at the limit, nutrition is one of the fundamentals of performance. Feeding the endurance horse is highly specific. From the overall forage to concentrate ratio down to the details of electrolyte balance. The speeds at which elite endurance horses travel when racing means their muscles work aerobically most of the time. It’s only when tackling steep hills or in the sprint to the line that they go anaerobic. Muscles are most efficient when working aerobically, and to do this a horse can “burn” either fat (lipid) or glycogen. The dietary source of the lipids is either volatile fatty acids from the digestion of fibre or the oil supplied in the diet.
The Importance of Fibre when feeding the endurance horse.
Fibre is probably the most important nutrient (after water) for the equine endurance athlete. The digestion of fibre takes place slowly. The energy it releases is produced more evenly and for longer after the end of the meal. This means you get more ‘kilometres per litre’. Additionally, fibre seems to bind water as it passes through the gut, acting as a fluid and electrolyte reservoir.
Fatigue and diet
Notwithstanding poor training, the onset of fatigue can be affected by nutrition. Fatigue is measured not only by time but at the vet checks during a race. If the horse’s heart rate exceeds 64bpm after 2min you are out. Depletion of muscle glycogen stores, combined with insufficient dietary fibre, is one of the main sources of fatigue. So is dehydration. Fluids and electrolytes are lost in sweat and, if not replenished, affect performance markedly.
Feeding the endurance horse
- The laws of physics dictate that the power to weight ratio (max power/min weight) will mean faster speeds. However, the reserves an endurance horse calls upon mean that it can’t be unduly thin.
- Energy should come predominately from fibre and oil. Fibre should come not just from forage and some alfalfa. It also can include compounds containing soya hulls and sugar beet pulp. Typically, hard feeds with 6-10% oil are used, but huge amounts will make the horse fat and can affect fibre digestion. It’s not necessary to cut out starch altogether. The horse needs some to maintain muscle glycogen levels, necessary for the “power” work of going up hills or galloping.
- Water and electrolytes are crucial throughout and after a ride.
- If you go slowly on endurance rides, you just need forage and low-energy feed. Horses have evolved to cover long distances like this. It’s only when going at speed that the extra feed counts.
The role of the Feed Balancer when Feeding the endurance horse
Feed balancers can be a highly useful feedstuff for an endurance horse. They can partially or fully replaces the amount of grain feed being fed. Additionally, they’ll provide the vitamins and minerals required on a daily basis. Fibregenix includes quality digestible protein, fibre and essential fatty acids. So a Fibregenix balancer alleviates the need to feed additional supplement except for electrolytes.
The Fibregenix balancers for feeding the endurance horse
For shorter distances up to 60km, Fibregenix Prime Original is ideal. Fibregenix Platinum Pro suits longer distance racing. This requires an elevated level of vitamins, minerals and essential nutrients such as the key antioxidants, Vitamin E, Vitamin C and selenium. Both balancers contain a natural form of Vitamin E. This powerful antioxidant is essential for the endurance horse that is often under stress. Natural vitamin E has been found to be 5 times more bioavailable than synthetic vitamin E. Platinum Pro also contains a comprehensive blood-building formula which aids oxygen transportation to the working muscles.
Digestive health – a key factor in feeding the endurance horse
Fibregenix Platinum Pro contain 4 key digestive aids to tackle both hindgut and foregut health. Its foregut gut health pack consists of FOS and MOS prebiotics.
The unique FOS is a short chain of sugar molecules, providing a feed-source for the beneficial gut micro-organisms. Scientific support has proven that this specific FOS may:
Positively modify the gut microflora
Enhance digestive health
Reduce the risk of digestive upsets
Reduce putrefactive compound production
Strengthen the immune system (GALT)
Improve insulin sensitivity in the obese horse.
With the digestive system already compromised through the stress of competing and travelling, there could be a large population of ‘bad’ bacteria. The ‘good’ bacteria may thrive, but harmful bacteria will still cause an unhealthy gut, negatively affecting the horse’s general health. Platinum Pro’s MOS prebiotic mimics the cursor that the harmful bacteria bind to on the gut wall. Once the harmful bacteria have bound to the MOS, they can’tt be released. So they’re rendered useless and ‘flushed out’ of the digestive system. This promotes the overall health of the digestive system, so the beneficial bacteria can thrive, which ultimately aids weight gain.
Live Yeast probiotic
The hindgut digestive enhancer gut pack in Platinum Pro contains high levels of an equine approved live probiotic yeast. Studies have proven it can double fibre digestibility. This enables fibre to be utilised more efficiently which is ideal for the elite endurance horse. Furthermore, it helps to improve and maintain weight and condition.
The digestive enhancer pack also include Nucleotides. They’re considered essential nutrients as they’re the building blocks of DNA and RNA. Present in the horse’s natural diet but at low levels, they can’t be stored by the horse. Nucleotides often become ‘limited’ during periods of strenuous activity or stress. Therefore there are real benefits to adding purified nucleotides to the diet. The specific blend of purified nucleotides in Fibregenix are designed to balance the lower levels found naturally.
They provide three main advantages:
- Aid cell replication – particularly important for the endurance horse and for recovery after exercise or from an injury.
- Iincrease the length and surface area of the intestinal villi which aids nutrient absorption.
- Act as immune facilitators aiding the immune cells’ response when infection or disease is detected. Regular travelling and competing can compromise the endurance horse’s immune system, making them more susceptible to infections.
Horse Joint Supplements
Modern-day advances in scientific research in the equine sector have proven the need for horse joint supplements. Osteoarthritis and other arthritic changes are responsible for around 60% of lameness in both pleasure and performance horses. Even horses at rest and youngsters can also be affected. The best philosophy to follow is prevention is better than cure, as it’s often more difficult to reverse an existing problem.
During the first two years of a horse’s life, developing a healthy skeletal system is paramount. Always ensure your young horse has the correct nutrition to facilitate this and long term insurance for joint/bone health. Especially once a horse starts his working career under saddle.
Horse owners more commonly prefer oral joint supplements over injectables. Liquid Joint & Bone RLF is a unique nutraceutical product in a palatable, fast-absorbing liquid form. Its active ingredients are well-documented with studies and trials. These actives help in the formation of strong, dense bones. Additionally, they slow down the degenerative process and assist in providing relief from inflammation helping to improve mobility.
Rosehip (rosa canina)
Rosehip contains glycosides that are anti-inflammatory to injury. It may be a degenerative injury eg. arthritis or an acute injury such as a soft tissue tear. Glycosides can limit the number of white blood cells that can enter the site of injury-causing swelling. Therefore rosehip can minimise swelling in and around the joint aiding joint comfort in both the short term and long term. Rosehip also contains high levels of Vitamin C, a powerful antioxidant which neutralises free radicals preventing damage to cells.
Hyaluronic Acid (HLA)
Synovial fluid is the fluid enclosed within a joint capsule and is rich in Hyaluronic Acid. It helps to ensure the joint moves freely. When a horse ages or injury occurs within a joint this fluid can become more viscous, physically preventing free movement. Hyaluronic acid may help ensure that synovial fluid remains at the correct viscosity, enabling joints to move freely again.
Cartilage covers the ends of bones ensuring they don’t grind against each other. When arthritic changes or cartilage damage occurs, cartilage breakdown can cause discomfort. Glucosamine is an amino sugar and a precursor of glucosaminoglycans (GAGS). These GAGS are major components of joint cartilage and essential for cartilage regeneration. Although available in many forms, Glucosamine Hydrochloride is regarded as the most bio-available variety which safeguards maximum absorption. Glucosamine HCL is, therefore, the most effective way to aid in the process of cartilage regeneration.
MSM (Methyl sulphonyl-methane)
Soft tissue tendons and ligaments connect muscle to bone and bone to bone. For a joint to move these soft tissues need to be healthy and strong. When an injury occurs to one of these soft tissues, joint movement may be restricted. MSM provides protein building blocks to aid tendon and ligament repair and for general tendon and ligament health.
Vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol)
Vitamin D3 plays a key role in the regulation of calcium and phosphorus homeostasis, especially in bone. Stimulating the intestinal absorption of calcium, Vitamin D3 builds up the bone matrix promoting the mineralization of osteoblastic bone formation. In studies, Vitamin D3 has been shown to work synergistically with Calcium, benefiting bone health and remodeling after exercise.
99% of the calcium in the horse’s body is deposited in bone. It’s key in supporting the mechanical property of bone and the remodeling process. Providing calcium in a chelate form ensures it’s an efficiently absorbed nutrient which may help to prevent bone weaknesses. To optimise joint & bone health for your growing youngster or competition horse, our outstanding Liquid Joint & Bone RLF can give you that peace of mind.
Note that whilst there are many joint supplements on the market, there are no other joint supplements in liquid form.