Feeding Horses For Competition

Some of the feeding routines documented for eventing horses have scientists concerned. Investigators gathered data at two Jersey Fresh Three-day Events to find out about the feed and supplements that competitors gave their horses.

The researchers asked competitors to fill out feeding management surveys prior to the 2006 and 2007 Concours Complet d'Equitation International CCI** and CCI*** events in Allentown, New Jersey. The horses entered were mainly male thoroughbreds, averaging 11 years old.

Most of the riders performing at this high level followed recommendations from previous scientific research to guide their feeding management practices. Usually the horses were kept on consistent hay and concentrate rations before arriving at the show. The one exception was prior to the cross-country part of the competition when horses had feed withheld for two to four hours.

Competing horses were also regularly fed supplements, averaging over four different supplements each. The most commonly given oral supplement was electrolytes, followed by plain salt and joint compounds.

It is this relatively large number of supplements that has the authors of this study worried. They question whether the horses are being over supplemented. They also raise the possibility that these high-performance horses could be experiencing nutrient interactions resulting from the mixing of different types of supplements.

Reference

A.O. Burk and C.A. Williams. 2008. Feeding management practices and supplement use in top-level event horses. Comparative Exercise Physiology. 5: 85-93.

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