The importance of diet in the Racehorse
For racehorses, good race results rely on appropriate training. Sound preparation ultimately aims to delay the onset of fatigue during a race, so achieving optimal performance.
Diet forms an intrinsic part of preparation. Energy supply and fatigue, dehydration and electrolyte loss, and muscle health and the digestive tract are all supported by effective dietary management.
The Simply Nutrition range of products are designed to provide essential support to horses in training in the following ways:
Travelling means long periods in a confined environment – next to horses that may or may not be from the same stable, and close to sources of dust such as hay or haylage which dries out as the journey progresses.
- Use low dust Vitamunch Marvellous Meadow as the forage for a long journey. The 1kg portion size means horses are not filling up on extra fibre, they take time to eat, and are also fortified with antioxidants.
Receiving limited forage or eating haylage quickly.
These horses need small and safe additions of fibre to their diet – not too much as excess fibre is considered too bulky, but enough to support digestive health.
- Vitamunch Heavenly Hedgerow is ideal in these situations – small portion size, low dust and providing an extended eating time.
Injury is part and parcel of the life of any athlete. Box rest for racehorses on the easy list is a time for rest and recuperation. Demands for energy and protein are reduced as workload slows, but there is still requirement for nutrients to aid the repair process. Also the horses are standing in, often on similar forage: concentrate rations to those used in training.
- Extend eating time and add variety to the diets of horses stabled for long periods with any of the Munch range
- For horses on reduced hard feed, top up the diet with Simply Sunshine, a blend of essential vitamins and minerals with yeast & beta carotene that provides the goodness of turnout in a safe and nutritious way.
Fussy feeders or those receiving medication in their feed
Some horses go off their feed as workload steps up, or can easily detect when essential meds have been added to the feed. As nutrient requirements are high it is essential they start eating again as soon as possible.
- Simply Irresistible has been designed as a highly palatable addition to the feed to tempt them back to the feed bucket. Simply mix into the feed at 50g per day, or feed from the hand with the medicine mixed in, a particularly effective route for administering wormers.
Off their feed or a bit lacklustre
Vitamin B12 fulfils important roles in the production of blood cells and in the metabolism of carbohydrates, fats and protein, where its role as a pick me up is no doubt derived from. Plant products contain essentially no B12, and the main source in the body is microbial fermentation on the hindgut, such that in horses that receive small amount of forage or are working hard, supplies can be restricted and demand high. In these situations horses can be lacklustre, or go off their food.
- a 50 ml Simply Boost Energy provides a boost of Vitamin B12 equivalent to that from an injection, to help restore levels in the body.
- Or, try Simply Irresistible – a delicious blend of dried fruits or vegetables with a probiotic pellet, is designed to tempt the fussiest of feeders.
Support for muscles after exercise
Antioxidant vitamin E also plays a role in quenching free-radicals, the “toxic waste” of metabolism in muscle cells. Free radical production naturally increases as exercise increases, so that antioxidant requirements increase with activity.
Horses in training and those on low forage, high concentrate diets are prone to gastric ulcers and other digestive upset.
Digestive health can be supported by returning the trickle feeding habits to those more normally associated with grazing horses.
- A 1kg block of Munch, made of high quality low dust premium timothy hay, can extend eating time for up to one hour, without filling the horse up with unwanted bulk, whilst providing essential chewing to buffer gastric acid, and fibre to feed the gut microbes.
Electrolytes, principally sodium, potassium, chloride, calcium and magnesium, are responsible for the correct function of nerves and muscles. They also help maintain normal hydration and are integral in maintaining the functioning of the digestive system, and the other vital organs.
One litre of horse sweat contains around 3.5g of sodium, 6g of chloride, 1.2g of potassium and 0.1g of calcium
Horses on low forage diets, such as those receiving a lot of hard feed, or those on restricted diets due to being good-doers, will have a lower electrolyte supply than horses with good fibre levels in their diet.
Simply Boost Electrolytes are easy to feed liquid electrolytes. Use:
- after a horse works hard, summer or winter.
- in the days before a competition to stimulate water intake such that the horse enters the competition fully hydrated.
- Before during or after travelling: offering water or an isotonic solution every couple of hours on long journeys should help avoid unnecessary fluid* and/or electrolyte deficits before the competition has begun.
Getting really wound up, box walking, anxious
For horses new to the yard, or who can’t switch off in a busy yard.
- High doses of vitamin E can be calmative.
- Munch blocks are tasty take a long time to eat and are distracting – the perfect pacifiers -, FlexiMunch or CalmMunch are ideal.
Adding oil to the diet?
Nutritionists recommend that for every 100mls added, extra Vitamin E is added to the diet to help cope with the added free radicals such high oil produces
A racehorse takes a breath every stride it takes, which means that when they are working fast, the lungs are under extreme pressure. At the interface between the air breathed in and the lungs themselves is a delicate layer of cells, or epithelium, lubricated by a fluid, the lung lining fluid. This fluid and the epithelium are the first line of defence for airborne particles, and as such the fluid has been shown to contain a high level of antioxidants, principally ascorbic acid (vitamin C). It has been shown in horses under stress that the vitamin C level in the lung lining is depleted, and that supplementation with vitamin C can help to restore the levels.
Trainers have noted fewer incidences of bleeding from the lungs post exercise in horses fed some respiratory supplements rich in vitamin C. As vitamin C has been identified at high levels in the lung lining fluid, there could be a link between maintaining the levels here through supplementation and maintaining a healthy lung linings (the epithelium).