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Feeding Racehorses and Endurance Horses

July 07 2016 – Greg Wood

Feeding Racehorses and Endurance Horses
Feeding Racehorses and Endurance Horses

Racehorses, polo ponies, eventers, jumpers, endurance horses and upper level dressage horses in daily training are considered to be in heavy work. Their total weekly work time may not be any greater than a horse in moderate work, but these disciplines require athletic performance at the highest level and therefore have the highest energy demands. For instance, 90 minutes of interval training for an endurance or racehorse uses almost twice as much energy as a dressage horse working at a medium trot for the same amount of time.

Horses in heavy work may have difficulty consuming enough calories to maintain optimum weight, as lengthy training sessions reduce meal times, travel can disrupt feeding schedules and in some cases, individuals may simply be too tired to eat.

Suggested daily menu: Heavy-Duty Dining
15 lbs. oat or barley hay
10 lbs. alfalfa hay
10-12 lbs. sweet feed
top dressed with 2 cups oil

25 lbs. alfalfa/grass hay
5 lbs. complete pellets
10-12 lbs. crimped oats
or barley
Top dress with 1 lb.
rice bran

Horses in heavy work should consume between 2 to 3 percent of their body weight daily in feed. In order to meet this demand, they may require as much as half of their intake, by weight, in concentrates.

Premium commercial feeds with fat added or top dressing your own grain mixture with wheat germ, soy, canola or coconut oil is a practical necessity for keeping weight on hard-working horses-and has the added advantage of boosting endurance. Free choice availability of quality hay is almost always in order, although some horses become finicky and bored with their selection when constantly confronted with the same menu. If this happens, try offering a mixture of hays, breaking grain feedings up into several small meals a day or offering turnout on irrigated pasture for a few hours every day.

Further Reading
Complete Feeds
Choosing Good Hay

Sarah Christie
A lifelong horsewoman and experienced endurance competito