Muscle Development and Promoting Topline

Muscle Development and Promoting Topline

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Muscle development and promoting topline.

What is topline and why does it matter? Good topline is something most horse owners strive to achieve. It showcases your horse at his very best. A horse also needs good topline and condition to protect his thoracic vertebrae when being ridden. If muscle development and promoting topline is your priority, then the right training and correct diet should be your focus.  This will develop the muscles in the neck, over the back and loins and the top of the rump.

How that muscle is distributed across the body is largely genetic. For example, a Quarter Horse has a higher proportion of fast twitch muscles which are bulkier than an Arab.  An Arab has more slow twitch muscles.  This is why their appearance is quite different with the quarter horse having well-developed gluteal (hind-quarter) muscles.

It’s a fact that some breeds maintain their topline easier than others.  A good example of this is ponies, native breeds, stockier cold-blood breeds, and even Arabs.  Others can drop quite quickly when they’re put out to spell or workload is reduced. A prime example of this would be thoroughbreds.

Other factors that can affect muscle tone and development are injury, nutrition, age and exercise. A horse that is malnourished will break down muscle to provide fuel for essential body processes. This is why starved horses lack muscle mass as well as fat coverage. Injury can also cause muscle wastage especially if the injury has caused a long-term change in a horse’s way of going.

In addition to this, as horses age, muscle tone declines, often due to a reduction in exercise intensity. Exercise itself has a major impact on muscle tone and topline because the use of that muscle helps develop its strength and function.

The Genetics Factor

Unfortunately, genetics and conformation will always remain the limiting factor.  Some horses’ conformation won’t change even with a high protein diet and an intense exercise programme.  Remember, the nice, rounded appearance we all get drawn to, particularly the horse’s topline, is comprised of muscle and subcutaneous fat. So it’s important to assess your horse’s overall body condition score as he may just need more calories in his diet.

Horse with great topline

Smarty. Standardbred owned by Tracey and Tony Mallia. Produced by Lauren Tritton of Tritton Racing, NY


Training for Topline

If you’re the owner of a performance or show horse, you’ll be focussing on muscle development and promoting topline.   Working a horse consistently in a way that’ll make him use his muscles correctly is one of the key requirements. We often hear the phrase ‘working the horse over his back’.  But that doesn’t necessarily mean endless hours of long and low lungeing.  Don’t forget you can also include things such as pole/cavalletti or hill work.  In fact, any work that gets a horse to engage his tummy muscles which in turn will lift his back.

If your horse is a pleasure horse in light to moderate work, it can take a while to regain/improve topline.  Every horse develops at a different rate, so remember, patience is a virtue. Quick fix practices aren’t going to be your solution in the long run. You may need some expert advice to help you in the right direction.

Nutrition for muscle development and promoting topline

The influence of correct nutrition is all about providing a balanced diet with good quality protein. Protein contains amino acids providing the suitable building blocks for muscle growth, so both protein quality and intake is important. Protein and amino acids have critical roles within the body. These include structural, enzymatic and hormonal roles; the immune system; nutrient transport across membranes and in the blood. Quite a comprehensive list!

 NB: there’s currently little evidence supporting feeding high protein supplements or single amino acids on top of an already balanced diet to enhance muscle or topline development.

Protein & the Importance of Amino Acids

Every day, your horse requires a specific amount of essential amino acids contained in the protein he eats.   Any protein consumed that’s either indigestible or in excess of requirements, gets excreted in droppings/urine and minimally through sweat.

Part of the muscle-building process is related to the type of protein we give our horses.  Why?  Because this provides the structure to muscle fibres.  The best protein sources will, therefore, be easily digested and include the full range of essential amino acids. Particularly an amino acid called lysine. This is known as the first limiting amino acid required for muscle development. So when you’re looking for protein content in your horse’s feed, you should check out the lysine content on the label.

Ideally, you need to feed enough protein to maintain condition and integrity of the entire system.  So, feeding your horse a diet that’s no higher than 12% total protein is a good benchmark to keep.  (NB:  Total protein refers to overall protein in the diet, not to anyone individual feedstuff as many people think!)

Topline comparisonWhen you think about it, a combination of muscle and condition can do so much for improving the appearance of any horse. Look at the example left. In the top photo, notice the angular appearance of the rump down to the tailhead, indicating muscle atrophy.  Some horses will also display ‘poverty lines’ running down the second thigh which can also indicate a lack of condition.  The bottom photo shows a more improved topline outline after just one week on Fibregenix Platinum Pro.

Protein Sources

Forages (hay, pasture, haylage etc)

These key components of a horse’s diet can be excellent sources of protein and amino acids.  However, forages can also be extremely variable in their nutrient content. The crude protein content of forages is highest when the plant is in a vegetative state of growth.  It’s at its lowest when the plant is in a late stage of maturity.

Cereal grains and grain by-product

As well as energy, they provide protein and amino acids as well.  Both total trace and small intestinal protein digestion are generally greater for grains than for forages. There may also be some differences between grain species in regard to the site or extent of protein digestion.

Seed Meals

When oil is extracted from the oil seeds of soybean, sunflower, canola etc, the remaining seed meal is a high protein product that’s very useful. Soybean meal, for instance, has an amino acid profile superior to most other seed meals with a protein content of 44-48%. Fibregenix balancers include soybean meal as part of the protein content.  Significantly, our customers have noted excellent increases/improvements in topline and muscle development in a relatively short time.

Signs of Protein /Amino acid Deficiency

This isn’t common in horses fed typical diets that provide adequate dietary energy.  But depending on the quality of that protein, one or more important individual amino acids may be deficient. Signs of dietary protein deficiency you need to look for include:

  • weight loss
  • decreased feed intake
  • poor hoof and coat quality
  • decreased rates of gain in growing horses
  • reduced milk production and lower rates of foal growth in lactating mares

Protein & Amino Acid Excess

Feeding protein above the required levels offers no benefits to the horse. Why?  Well for a start it’s metabolically expensive.  This is because excess nitrogen must be converted into urea for excretion resulting in environmental consequences  Secondly, excess protein conversion to urea requires substantial amounts of water excretion.  This is why adequate water intake is especially important when high levels of protein is fed.

Thirdly, exercise already results in a decrease in blood PH due to lactic acid production. If muscle PH drops too low and acidosis develops, muscle fatigue will occur.  Further reductions in blood PH from excessive protein intake could interfere with anaerobic energy production.  The result of this would also exacerbate the onset of fatigue. Additionally, if your horse has compromised liver or kidney function, excess amino acid intake may be hugely detrimental.

Protein and The Calcium Link to Tying Up

When your horse is under strenuous exercise, higher glucose levels are needed to fuel the muscles. Higher glucose levels also delay the onset of lactic acid build-up in the muscles and blood. Too much lactic acid causes the muscles to lose their ability to contract and relax properly. In this state, the muscles stay contracted – also known as “tying up”. 

According to research performed at Colorado State University and in Sweden, excess dietary protein decreases T4 thyroid hormone levels. Optimum T4 levels are necessary for horses to metabolize glucose (blood sugar) properly. Higher magnesium levels were found to increase the production of T4. Hence, magnesium is an essential mineral to relax the muscles after the contraction phase.  However, from a mineral balance perspective, magnesium can be depleted by too much calcium intake. High calcium levels are found in a commonly fed forage ie Lucerne, a well-documented a source of digestible protein. Therefore over- feeding lucerne is generally not recommended.

Dr Karen Hayes, D.V.M., who wrote Modern Horse Breeding, states:

“Under no circumstance should the amount of Lucerne in your horse’s diet ever exceed 40% (by weight). Any more than that and you are risking the perils of excess protein and excess calcium, both of which can do some unbelievable damage. If your horse’s ration consists of 100% alfalfa, he may look healthy, but that does not mean it isn’t taxing his system.”

Another interesting study showed that increased oestrogen depletes magnesium. Mares and fillies tend to tie up more frequently on high lucerne diets as oestrogen is increased during their heat cycles.


Muscle development and promoting topline is a combination of good training and diet. Horses can generally tolerate high levels of protein in the diet. Problem is, it’s a costly part of the diet and depending on the source, can have some detrimental effects on your horse.

Checking the protein intake in your diet is a relatively simple thing made even easier with a Fibregenix diet review. We’re here to take the stress out of your decision-making process so contact us now.

Reviewed February 2024




Feeding off the track thoroughbreds

Feeding off the track thoroughbreds

Feeding off the track thoroughbreds.

Many off the track thoroughbreds find new careers as riding and competition horses. When they first come to a new home, a new diet is one of the first major changes they face. So it’s important to ensure when feeding off the track thoroughbreds you pay attention to detail.

Ex-racehorses haven’t always come straight out of racing. Some of them may have stayed within the racing yard and either have been turned away or used for other duties.  Therefore, knowing how long your horse has been out of racing for is very useful.  To progress their transition away from racing you’ll then know what level of support they will need in their new environment.

Straight out of Training

A Thoroughbred straight out of training will have been used to a high energy, low fibre diet. He’ll have been consuming large amounts of concentrate feed and often only fed relatively small volumes of forage.  This means when coming off the track, he must become accustomed not only to his new home but also to quite different feeding practices.

Knowing what your off the track TB has been fed will help avoid risking any digestive upset when changing feeds. Ideally, any feed changes should be made over a 7 – 10 day period. The current feed should be mixed in gradually with the new feed that you’ve chosen for your horse. However, if you don’t know what he’s been fed on before, offer a range of feeds.  Perhaps a low starch muesli or a low starch pellet. Remember that some horses may have been on the same type of feed for years.  So they won’t know how to switch over from a pellet to a mueslis or vice versa.

The first hurdle to tackle nutritionally for any off the track TB is to reduce the amount of energy (calories) he gets.  In training, he may well have been fed in excess of 7kg of a high energy racehorse mix providing fast release energy. This is the last thing that’s needed at his new home! It’s important for any horse to have a balanced diet that meets its needs for energy, protein, fibre vitamins and minerals. The diet should also suit temperament, workload and age, and feeding off the track thoroughbreds is no exception.

Feeding Forage to Off the Track Thoroughbreds

A racehorse diet is lower in forage compared to that of a leisure or competition horse. Many trainers do offer lots of hay but it’s likely that the forage is offered in smaller quantities throughout the day. This is in contrast to being offered it all in one go which most horse owners are used to doing. It’s also a good idea to provide hay in a haynet as well as on the floor.  This is because they may have eaten their forage in the same way for years and not know how to diversify! Lots of yards feed over the door on the floor.  So giving your new horse a haynet could put him off eating as he wont know how to eat from it.

You can also offer the hay in a bucket or supplement the hay with buckets of chaff.  These can be placed around the stable to encourage him to browse. Remember to place at least some forage at the front of the stable by the door.  Your horse will want to look at his new surroundings and this is likely where he’ll be used to finding his forage.

Turnout on Grass

On arrival at your yard, you’ll no doubt be introducing your new horse to routine turnout.  This will not only mentally start to relax him, but will also gradually increase his forage ration. Many ex-racehorses won’t have been turned out for months or even years.  Some horses stay in training or go to ‘spelling’/pre-training yards out of racing season and remain in light exercise on the horse walker.  For this reason be careful when turning out for the first time.

For those turned away on good grass, a balancer, such as Fibregenix Lami Low-Cal, will bridge nutrient gaps in the pasture but with no associated calories.   Balancers provide a concentrated source of nutrients in a small volume which can be beneficial when feeding at pasture.  Just 500g per day is required for a 500kg horse at rest so Lami Low-Cal can easily be fed once a day.  Where grass quality isn’t good or the horse needs more condition, you can provide extra calories with a small amount of hard feed or beet pulp. When feeding off the track thoroughbreds you can also feed Fibregenix Prime Original conditioning balancer.

After bringing horses in after a long period of “downtime” in the paddock, adjustments to diet must be gradual.  Grass provides more calories, protein, vitamins and minerals than hay, so when substituting grass with hay, adjust the nutrient content accordingly of any other feed given.  A high-spec Fibregenix balancer provides a boost of quality nutrients whilst ensuring a healthy gut environment during the transition period

Safe Conditioning

Whatever your off the track racehorse is doing, if he needs condition, look for a high fibre conditioning feed eg beet pulp. This provides a concentrated source of non-heating calories and keeps meal sizes manageable.  It also ensures feed is utilised efficiently with a smaller risk of digestive upsets or “crabby” behaviour.  The specific yeast probiotic in Fibregenix Prime Original Conditioning balancer can double fibre digestibility and improve the calorie and nutrient yield of what’s being fed. This will increase condition without needing large amounts of hard feed. TIP: If your Thoroughbred is prone to being a bit fizzy, feed a pellet rather than a muesli. Pellet feeds contain less starch than a muesli mix of a similar nutrient specification.

Conditioning for Excitable Types

Oil is a useful addition to the diet if you need slow-release, non-heating energy. It provides 2¼ times as many calories as cereals.  However, not all horses can tolerate high levels of oil in their diet so be careful when feeding. Introduce slowly. If the manure starts to look greasy or greyish in colour, it can indicate your horse isn’t digesting it properly.  In this case, back off the amount you’re feeding and re-introduce again more slowly. Oil can be fed alongside beet pulp, forage and a Fibregenix balancer. This keeps the diet cereal free, which is important where there may be ongoing ulcer issues. A common occurrence in the ex-racehorse.

Why Forage for Digestive Health?

Research suggests that 90% of horses in training suffer from gastric ulcers. This is due to the low fibre, high starch diets they receive during training.  So it’s even more important to ensure that an off the track racehorse is returned to a high forage diet ASAP.  Forage is important in any horse’s diet as they’ve evolved to consume large amounts eaten over an 18-hour period.  The physical bulk of fibre is also vital for maintaining regular bowel movement. Furthermore, it helps push out any excess gas that may be accumulating in the gut, which can become distended when it builds up. Excess gas can lead to considerable pain and often results in colic symptoms.

Fibre is also important for counteracting acidity throughout the digestive tract.  Fibre takes longer to chew than grain-based hard feeds. When the horse chews, the resulting saliva produced helps neutralise the acidity of the stomach contents. Long periods of chewing helps avoid gastric ulceration to the upper region of the stomach which is vulnerable to ulcers.

Fibre is fermented and broken down by bacteria in the hindgut. The breakdown of fibre produces acids that are much weaker than those from the breakdown of starch (cereals).  This results in a hindgut environment that is far more hospitable to the bacterial population. Therefore, with bacteria being particularly important to overall health, it’s vital to maintain fibre levels.

Healthy Mind

Forage helps keep the gut and mind healthy.  Always provide your horse with plenty of forage either in the stable or paddock to prevent boredom and relieve stress.  Remember that all horses are herd animals, so try and provide company to prevent anxiety and stress.

Previous thinking was that boredom was the main reason horses receiving very little forage started to develop stereotype behaviour. However, recent research suggests some stereotyped behaviour is a response to increased acidity in the digestive tract.  If a horse isn’t receiving much forage, his chew time will be reduced and the gut may remain very acidic.  Therefore, the importance of forage can never be under-estimated. Feeding more forage and keeping the volume of concentrates down, will reduce the risk of digestive upsets occurring.

Creating a healthy gut

If your Thoroughbred has come from a retraining/rehabilitation centre, the gut should be healthy and already adapted to the feeding regime.  However, moving to a new home or adapting from life in racing can still take its toll on the digestive system.  When stressed, beneficial bacteria in the digestive tract can become disrupted resulting in an unhealthy gut and loose droppings (scouring).  Feeding a prebiotic should mean that harmful bacteria aren’t able to take advantage of the compromised condition of the digestive tract.  The two specific prebiotics in Fibregenix Platinum Pro and Lami Low-Cal can help to reduce the incidence of scouring caused by the stress response or bacterial infections.

Probiotics and prebiotics help enhance the health of the bacterial population. These are particularly beneficial when the digestive tract is under stress.  Prebiotics work by providing ‘good’ bacteria with a food source and maintain a healthy environment for them to reproduce.   ‘Bad’ bacteria are then expelled by competitive exclusion as they then have no room to develop.  By maintaining the natural bacterial balance of the gut,  efficient feed utilisation is promoted. This is highly beneficial for the ‘poor doer’ and for overall good health.

A Successful Transition

Take home message:

Remember that Thoroughbreds can be fussy feeders. So attention to detail and a little care in the early stages will pay dividends.  They may take a few days or weeks to get used to their new diet, so be patient.

Whilst you need to reduce energy intake, it’s still important that the nutrient levels aren’t compromised.  Offering a handful of basic pellets and chaff just won’t be enough.  A typical Thoroughbred, weighing 500kg at rest or in light work will need at least 2% of his body weight daily in dry matter intake. Most of it should be forage plus initially, some hard feed. There’s no reason why your ex-racehorse shouldn’t thrive where the ratio of forage to hard feed is a healthy balance.  Once settled into their new life, most Thoroughbreds simply need treating like any other individual horse. Some even become laid back good-doers!

Reviewed and amended March 2023

Feeding the Eventing Horse

Feeding the Eventing Horse

The Fit Event Horse

5* Event Horse


Feeding the eventing horse with the correct nutrition is paramount so he can perform to the best of his ability.  3-day eventing is the ultimate all-round test of a horse’s athletic capabilities. Therefore your event horse needs to possess athleticism, concentration, agility and stamina.

Top Tips for Feeding the Eventing Horse

  • Don’t overfeed – Feed your event horse specifically for his level of work or competition and continually re-assess to ensure he is getting everything he needs to be successful.
  • Feed a minimum of 1.5-2% of total bodyweight in fibre eg ad lib forage over a 24hr period.
  • Ensure your event horse receives a good quality source of protein.  This aids muscle development and repair when training and competing at an event, just don’t overfeed protein.
  • Don’t forget to provide electrolytes to replace the ions lost through the sweat.
  • Turn out for some time during the day at home and days off after events is vital.  It’s essential for the mental wellbeing of your event horse and has been shown to help reduce/prevent gastric ulcer issues.

Recommended Fibregenix Products For Feeding the Eventing Horse


  • Fibregenix Prime Original is the perfect feed balancer for event horses up to Pre-novice level. It contains the optimum level of vitamins, minerals and nutrients required for an event horse to cope with competition demands. And it will help to build strength and stamina.
  • Fibregenix Prime Original contains a high level of an equine approved live probiotic yeast. It increases fibre digestion, aids nutrient yield, and encourages the beneficial bacteria in the gut to thrive. Feeding Fibregenix Prime Original alongside ad lib forage means you should be able to reduce the amount of additional hard feed fed. This benefits the event horse’s digestive system and potentially reduces feed bills.

 The Advanced Event Horse

  • Fibregenix Platinum Pro is ideal to feed when work becomes more demanding. It incorporates a blood building formula of nutrients including B12, iron and folic acid. We’ve also added a MOS and FOS prebiotic and an elevated specification of vitamins, minerals and nutrients. The inclusion of a purified nucleotide supplement provides additional performance benefits to your equine athlete. All these key ingredients help support your eventer when travelling and competing at a higher level.
  • TIP: Continue to feed Fibregenix Platinum Pro if your event horse needs a period of stable rest. This will help maintain muscle tone and condition, reducing the length of time taken to bring him back into full work.

Joint Protection 

  • An event horse needs suppleness as well as joint and bone protection. Your event horse will be faced with the high impact of jumping over fences during show-jumping. And he will be racing at speed during the cross-country phase.  Fibregenix’s Liquid Joint & Bone formulation will aid your event horse by protecting and conditioning the joints ensuring optimum flexibility. It incorporates a rosehip extract Rosa Canina, Hyaluronic acid (HLA), Organic MSM and Glucosamine HCL. There’s also the added benefit of calcium chelate and vitamin D3 providing bone density and strength.

For The Spooky Event Horse

  • Many event horses, being hot-blooded TBs, can become quite spooky and excitable in the competition environment. This is far from ideal when it’s time for your horse to perform. For better concentration and a calmer temperament, give your event horse Fibregenix Liquid Karma.  This amazing product contains a superior, water-soluble form of magnesium that can be quickly absorbed into the blood stream. This means your eventer will be calmer much quicker, helping him to focus on the job at hand.



Feeding racehorses

Feeding racehorses


When it comes to feeding racehorses, their nutritional requirements fall in the extreme category level of feeding.

Such a high exertional effort requires plenty of fast release energy of the type supplied by a carbohydrate rich diet.  Unfortunately, with most trainers adhering to a ‘traditional’ system, the resulting dietary practices conflict with the digestive physiology of horses.  The inappropriate concentrate/forage ratio levels fall way outside the parameters for the horse’s natural diet of fibre and trickle feeding. The result is digestive disorders which can affect performance, immune health and behaviour.  In fact, gastric and hindgut ulcers are the most common problems with any athlete horse fed high levels of starch.

However, attitudes are gradually changing, and many forward-thinking trainers are starting to look for more suitable alternatives.  More importantly, they are understanding the benefits that feeding more fibre to their racehorses can bring.


Recently, feed balancers are also fast becoming a part of that innovative change.  This is due to their level of nutrients and the digestive benefits they can provide.  Fibregenix Platinum Pro is a nutrient dense feed balancer supplement that can help improve your racehorse’s performance. And ultimately, it can result in an increased strike rate.

This technically advanced feed balancer is designed specifically for the fit performance horse. Its unique formulation delivers the optimum balance and level of each nutrient with a synergistic effect promoting optimum health and performance.


  • quality digestible protein supplying all essential amino acids
  • an enhanced and comprehensive vitamin and chelated mineral package
  • nutrients to promote blood building ie iron, organic copper, vitamin B12 and folic acid to assist in haemoglobin formulation
  • a powerful combination of antioxidants to promote a healthy immune system
  • beneficial levels of key nutrients for hoof health
  • high oil content
  • a quadruple action digestive and gut health package

Fibregenix Platinum Pro is also invaluable for the preparation of yearling sales.  Transitioning from grass to a high starch diet all too often results in scouring or ulcers. However, the comprehensive gut health package in Platinum Pro can help reduce the risk of digestive upsets from such exposure. The result is a happier, healthier yearling with great muscle tone and condition giving you a better return on your investment.



The quadruple action digestive package includes a specific equine-approved live yeast probiotic.  This probiotic aids the improvement in the breakdown of fibre so it is utilised more efficiently.  Actisaf live yeast probiotic has been proven in studies to reduce lactic acid accumulation and maintain a more stable PH. Additionally, it can help to prevent common problems such as colic and gastric and hindgut ulcers induced by hindgut acidosis. The result of lactic acid accumulation.


Fibregenix Platinum Pro also includes two prebiotics – PROFEED FOS and Safmannan MOS.


This specific FOS is made up of short chain fructo-oligosaccharides, providing a feed-source for the beneficial micro-organisms in the gut. A daily starch intake of more than 2% body weight/day increases the amount of starch reaching the hindgut.  This can have a negative effect on the microbial fibrolytic activity, affect fibre degradation, and lead to digestive disorders.


PROFEED® helps to limit the risk of digestive disorders in adult horses and yearlings. It does this by modifying the faecal microbiota by increasing Lactobacilli/E. coli ratio and limiting growth of potentially pathogenic bacteria.

Mode of Action & Proven scientific support:

Numerous reports, trials and now dossiers to support the use of Profeed, which may:

  • Positively modify the gut microflora
  • Enhance digestive health
  • Reduce the risk of digestive upsets
  • Aid in the reduction of putrefactive compound production
  • Strengthen the immune system (GALT)
  • Improve insulin sensitivity in the obese horse


Safmannan MOS is a premium pure saccharomyces cerevisiae yeast fraction rich in mannan-oligosaccharides (MOS) and β-glucans.  Derived from primary inactivated yeast, it supports a healthy immune system and may increase its reaction capacity.

With the digestive system already compromised through the stress of racing and travelling, there can be a large population of ‘bad’ gut bacteria. And this occurs despite the presence of thriving beneficial bacteria. An unhealthy gut environment negatively affects the general health of the horse. So Safmannan MOS prebiotic attracts these harmful bacteria and prevents them from binding to on the gut wall. Once bound to the MOS, they cannot be released so they are rendered useless and ‘flushed out’ of the digestive system.

Key benefits:

  • It helps to improve gut health by ensuring a better capacity to absorb nutrients and cope with challenging environmental conditions.
  • Increases zootechnical performances including average daily gain and feed efficiency especially in challenging conditions.  For example pathogen pressure or heat stress.
  • Enhances immunoglobulin production during gestation.  This improves the quality of the colostrum and the transfer of immunity from the mother to its offspring at birth.

Mode of action:

MOS binds a broad spectrum of major pathogens (eg E.coliSalmonella) thanks to its high content in mannanoligosaccharides. It does this by reducing their attachment onto the intestinal mucus and also provides the following benefits:

  • Helps to raise animal natural self-defences
  • Enhances humoral immune responses under challenging conditions
  • Improves cell-mediated immune response to disease
  • Protects the villi and maintains gut integrity whilst strengthening the intestinal barrier.


Fibregenix Platinum Pro contains a blend of purified nucleotides. These essential nutrients support muscle recovery and tissue regeneration after strenuous exercise. They also help support red blood cell production, which assists oxygen delivery to muscles and aids nutrient uptake.

Independent scientific trials* on thoroughbred racehorses proved that the benefits of nucleotides to high performance horses include

  • improved oxygen consumption, improved recovery rates, improved carbon dioxide production
  • reduced levels of stress hormones
  • reduced levels of lactic acid

* Nucleotide supplementation trial on exercising thoroughbreds at the University in Liege (Belgium) Dr T. Art and Prof P. Lekeux – ref Vet Res (1994) 25, 361-370

PROFEED Research and Study References:

Treiber, K.H., et al., Insulin resistance and compensation in Thoroughbred weanlings adapted to high-glycemic meals. Journal of Animal Science, 2005. 83: p. 2357-2364.

Respondek, F., et al., Effects of short chain fructooligosaccharides on the microbial and biochemical profi les of different segments of the gastrointestinal tract of horses. Pferdeheilkunde, 2007. 22(2/2007): p. 146-150.

Berg, E.L., et al., Fructooligosaccharides supplementation in the yearling horse: Effects on fecal pH, microbial content, and volatile fatty acid concentrations. Journal of Animal Science, 2005. 83(7): p. 1549-1553.

Faivre, L., et al., Changes in intestinal microbiota activity and immune response in horses submitted to scFOS supplementation followed by EHV1-EHV4 vaccination. Submitted in Equine Veterinary Journal.


Fibregenix Platinum Pro is a premium quality nutrient dense balancer supplement specially formulated for high bioavailability. It’s fed in very small quantities (100 grams per 100 kilograms of bodyweight). Crucially, this means that once a racehorse has been on Fibregenix for a while it may be possible to reduce hard feed which is more beneficial to the horse’s digestive system.

TRAINER TESTIMONIAL:  Another winner! Since using Fibregenix these past few months we have had more wins and places than ever. Recently, Amber Mamba ran 1st a couple weeks ago –  Ridinghood Fame ran 3rd today.  Glad I convinced my hubby (Bill Spencer) to switch to Fibregenix.

Racehorse winner in WA

Feeding for Energy

Feeding for Energy

Feeding for energy can be a confusing prospect.   Providing your horse with the ideal balance of energy for his needs requires some consideration of both diet AND workload.

In this blog, we take a closer look at the main energy-providing nutrients.  We look at how to decide what your horse needs and provide energy to young horses for sparkle without fizz.

It seems that energy itself, even though it’s a relatively simple concept, can be quite hard to grasp. So first of all, what do we really mean by energy?

Fact – Energy cannot be created or destroyed

Yep, you read correctly. Energy is simply converted from one form to another. The easiest way to think about its origin is that it’s released from another nutrient upon its breakdown. The main energy source nutrients within your horse’s diet are proteins, carbohydrates and fats and oils. Each differs in their energy content.

Feeding your horse for energy – Where does energy come from?

the energy triangle

ProteinsProteins are primarily used by the horse for muscle growth and development. Proteins are actually inefficient and furthermore an expensive source of energy.  Protein as energy is only used when carbohydrates and fats are not available or in short supply.

Fats and Oils Both are energy-dense containing 2.25 times the amount of energy that’s stored in the same mass of carbohydrates.  What separates them, however, is the type of fatty acids they contain. The healthier and better quality oils come from expensive crops such as linseed (flaxeed) and contain a higher rate of anti-inflammatory Omega 3 fatty acid than Omega 6.  By comparison, the more common and cheaper fat products eg rice bran or canola, provide higher levels of pro-inflammatory Omega 6 than Omega 3. Any feeds high in fats are very conditioning and should, therefore, be fed with caution.

CarbohydratesCarbohydrates come in several forms and are the main energy source in the equine diet. Simple sugars, such as glucose, are water-soluble forms of carbohydrates found in cereal grains.  These provide a quick-release source of energy. Complex carbohydrates, eg those found in fibre, make up the greater proportion of the diet. Fibre contains structural polysaccharides such as cellulose and hemicellulose.  Due to their properties and method of breakdown, they release energy over a longer period. This makes fibre an excellent source of slow-release energy.

Feeding your horse for energy – Weight Gain or Work

Energy for work and energy that causes weight gain is essentially the same. So if your horse gets more energy than he can use through exercise and metabolic processes, he’ll store it as fat. Obviously, this will contribute to weight gain. This fact can be exploited and implemented in a positive way when feeding thin horses that need to gain weight.  But it’s also a no-brainer that horses who struggle with being overweight shouldn’t be fed energy to excess.

When considering energy for work, horses that are training harder will, of course, require a higher calorie input.  Therefore, they should be fed to accommodate the additional exertion their bodies will undergo during exercise. This diet, however, wouldn’t be suitable for a horse in light work as it could contribute to weight gain.  That’s why it’s so important to strike the correct balance between energy provided and energy being utilised by the horse.

What is Digestible Energy?

The Digestible Energy of a feed component is the Gross Energy minus the energy lost in the faeces. It’s not actually a legally recognised measure of energy for horses, so it doesn’t have to be declared on feed bags.   Having said that, it’s a really helpful way of indicating the energy content of a given feed.  It’s also very useful when calculating overall digestible energy intake and fortunately most feed companies detail it anyway.

The table below shows the DE differences in some common feedstuffs.  Digestible Energy is one of the first things you should check to assess its suitability for your horse,

Look at the Digestible Energy (DE) per kg of the fibre. It’s quite low, so it can’t provide too much energy per gram of dry matter. This would correspond with the volume at which you would feed it.  After all, fibre should be making up the largest proportion of the diet. However, look at the conditioning mix. Whilst fed in much smaller quantities, it has a much higher DE per kg. Therefore feeding too much of a high DE feed in the incorrect quantity could affect your horse’s weight and condition!

Feeding your horse for Energy – How do we measure it?

Energy is measured in the same way as it is for humans – in Calories (cal) and Joules (J). One Calorie is 4.2 Joules, however, the energy levels of horse feeds are usually measured in Megajoules (Mj), (one million Joules). This may seem like a lot, but horses require a higher level of energy input than humans to sustain vital metabolic processes.


Why does my Horse lack Energy?

Here are 6 reasons why your horse might be lacking in energy.

  • You’re not feeding him enough energy
  • He has a naturally laid-back temperament
  • There’s an electrolyte imbalance
  • He may have worms or a reduced digestive function
  • He’s had a high starch diet within 4 hours before competing
  • Underlying illness

Common Scenario Question 1:  

My competition horse needs more energy – can I add some oats before he competes?

Here’s the thing…An abrupt dietary change can a) increase the risk of colic. b) This ‘instant’ energy will disrupt the digestive microbes causing ‘acid’ guts resulting in behavioural issues in some horses. This is the last thing you want before a competition!  c) Notwithstanding that, during exercise, horses, like humans, use stored energy sources, not energy directly from their previous meal.

This means he’d need to be consuming oats daily to safely receive the full energy benefits they provide.  Not just on or before the competition day. Oats are useful for adding quick-release energy into the diet for horses that are lethargic or lacking energy.  But this shouldn’t be seen as a substitute for ensuring adequate fitness.

Another common misconception is that feeding ‘high energy’ feeds can help improve energy levels without causing weight gain. You need to remember that calories are just units of energy, so high energy feeds are also high in calories. Whilst feeds such as competition mixes or straight oats can work to an extent, they’re best used as part of a fully-balanced diet.  And in combination with a suitable fitness regime.

Common scenario Question 2:

Your young horse is ridden four to five times a week but you’re finding he lacks energy. Though he’s getting fitter, he lacks that drive you think could be to do with him lacking energy from his feed. So how do you feed him to provide more energy without making him ‘fizzy’? And also, will it promote muscle build-up for his topline?

Finding the right balance of condition and ridden energy can be tricky for horses of any age, particularly youngsters.  However, remember the rules of feeding for energy before you go about changing too much.

Basically, energy and calories are the same thing. So you can’t supply energy for ridden work without supplying calories that might fuel weight gain or vice versa. One way of assessing whether your horse is receiving the appropriate level of energy is evaluating his condition.

Body Condition Scoring

The best way of doing this is by body condition scoring. It’ll give you an idea if his diet is providing sufficient energy to cover his energy needs. Remember, body condition scoring only evaluates external fat coverage not muscle development. Bear this in mind, as feeding alone won’t increase muscle tone or topline. This is more influenced by appropriate schooling and making sure the diet has adequate levels of quality protein.

On a scale of 1-9, you’re looking for your horse to be a 5 as this is described as the ‘ideal’. If your horse is carrying too much fat you’ll need to reduce his energy intake.  At the same time, you should maintain an adequate supply of vitamins and minerals to keep his diet balanced.

If he’s not carrying enough condition, you’ll need to increase the calories in his diet. This can be achieved by feeding an oil, preferably one high in Omega 3 fatty acids.  Alongside this, a quality fibre-based diet will provide non-heating calories.  Try and avoid high quantities of cereal-based feeds which can cause digestive issues.  If feeding less than the manufacturer’s recommended daily serve, provide a boost of nutrients and protein with an appropriate balancer.  The best balancers will contain digestive enhancers to increase fibre digestibility. This, in turn, helps maximise the nutrients and calories he gets out of his diet.

If your young horse is an ideal weight, changing feed is unlikely to be the answer for more ridden energy. It’s his fitness level or ultimately his temperament that’s more likely to influence this.  Remember, some breeds are more ‘laid-back’ than others, lacking that natural ‘oomph’, so they’ll often seem to lack energy.

Take-Home Message

Feeding high starch feed to gain instant energy can increase the risk of many digestive or metabolic conditions.  Eg gastric ulcers, colic, tying up and laminitis to name a few. In many cases, it won’t provide more ridden energy, and more often than not contributes to excitability or ‘fizzy’ behaviour.

The best strategy is to work on your horse’s fitness levels and provide a balanced diet.  Ideally, one which maintains him in an ideal body condition. This will allow your horse to make the most of his diet keeping him in top condition all year round.

Reviewed and amended April 2021

Feeding show horses

Feeding show horses

Home » Feeding for different activities

Morgan horse Stallion fed on Prime Original

Show producers and riders need their Show horses and ponies to be in ‘top’ condition throughout the show season to stand out in the ring and catch the judge’s eye. However, feeding show horses to optimize show condition can be labour intensive at the best of times, involving a lot of skill. In the past, some have been so well-conditioned to the point of being unhealthily overweight. In fact, overweight horses have often been placed above healthy horses in competitions by judges.  Unfortunately, this has contributed to the problem of owners striving to attain the award-winning ‘bigger is better’ trait.

Of course, there’s a thin line between achieving good condition and being overweight. The attributes of these two different types of condition are different and can be fatal for an overweight horse.

Evolving Nutritional Trends for Show Horses

With companies constantly claiming their products are the ‘best on the market’, finding the optimum diet can be challenging.  Equine nutrition is a constantly changing model with scientific developments and increasing knowledge of the equine digestive system.  So products should include innovative ingredients that help horses stay healthy and cope with training, travelling and competing.

It’s a fact that equine diets have evolved dramatically in the past 20 years.  This is mostly to keep pace with the type of work that we now ask horses to do.  Originally, working horses were fed a basic fibre diet with oats or barley if they needed extra energy/condition,. Not forgetting a ‘bran mash’ on their day off.  Today’s hard feeds have evolved into complex multi-ingredient processed products that place unwanted demands on the digestive system..  Added to this is the energy and stress demands the domestic horse now has to cope with.   The end result is that modern health issues now plague horses and ponies.  All too often we see metabolic problems, joint issues and gastric ulcer syndrome being common even from an early age.

Focusing on a more natural way of feeding for Show Horses.

Remember, horses evolved to mainly eat fibre for up to 18 hours per day. This constant passage of fibre through the digestive system helps to ensure a healthy gut.  The current general trend of focussing on a healthy digestive system is not without value.  This fundamental aspect is the basis of a horse’s health and overall well-being.

It’s therefore good practice to turn out show horses and ponies during the competition season. Many are left out over-night before a show as this helps to keep them calmer. So it makes sense to supplement the diet of all horses and ponies, but especially show horses and ponies.  Ensuring they aren’t nutrient deficient will keep them in the best possible health and condition, both mentally and physically.

Nutrition’s key role for show horses

Naturally, this plays a huge part both from both an inner perspective as well as the condition you can see outside.  Prime Original conditioning balancer supplement contains everything needed to provide your show horse with a balanced diet.  Additionally, by promoting and maintaining fabulous condition with a sparkling coat, it’ll ensure he’s a stand-out in the show ring. Prime Original also provides quality protein for that much-needed topline, fibre and extras such as a hoof supplement. There’s also a superior digestive enhancer package and high oil content. These ingredients enable you to keep your show horse’s diet simple and effective without the expense of multiple supplements.

Avoid starch and sugars

All too often, show horses are crammed full of starch-based hard feeds to provide calories for condition. This is at the expense of the digestive system and often leads to digestive disturbances. These then manifest themselves in hot, fizzy behaviour and poor performance in the ring. Feeding a Fibregenix feed balancer enables you to reduce or even completely cut out high starch feedstuffs.

Digestive Aids for Show Horses

A high-shine coat is always reflective of how healthy your horse’s digestive system is.  Healthy gut function is essential for not just nutrient absorption but also equates to good performance and temperament.

Prime Original contains a double-action digestive enhancer pack of an equine-approved live probiotic yeast and nucleotides.  This highly effective combination of digestive supplements promotes a healthy gut and doubles fibre digestibility.  This can enable your show horse to maximise the nutrients he gets from his fibre and helps improve/maintain body condition.

Modern nutritional technology always includes the highest quality ingredients in the most absorbable form, which provides the maximum benefit. Some supplement companies play the numbers game, claiming their product is best as it has more of ‘x’ vitamin/mineral than another.  This isn’t strictly correct as it’s possible to increase the level of certain vitamins and minerals without any benefit.  Horses can only absorb a certain level and any fed over this are just passed through the system and excreted. Therefore you can simply be ‘throwing money away. This is one reason why Fibregenix feed balancer supplements contain the most beneficial and superior forms of vitamins and minerals.

In summary

Feeding show horses a primarily fibre and Fibregenix balancer supplement diet will create a far happier and healthier horse.  No matter whether he’s in or out of the show ring. Fibregenix balancer supplements make your life easy in the feed shed.  They reduce time spent making up feeds and with no need for extra individual supplements they save you money too.   Fibregenix contains everything your show horse or pony needs to look in amazing show condition.  He’ll be healthy from the inside out with a mirror-shine glossy coat, great muscle tone, hooves and topline.  This is how you impress the judges as soon as you and your show horse walk into the ring.

Reviewed and amended April 2021