Best Horse Feed for Performance Horse: Anyone who hears the words “performance horse” can think of a lot of different types of horses, from Olympic jumpers to eventers to racehorses to barrel horses. They do work at different levels, though, and come in a lot of different shapes and sizes. Yes, this does describe a high-level competition horse. But what about the school horse that has two lessons a day, several days a week? Or the country horse that does work or the trail horse that leads new riders every day? Even though they aren’t the stars of the show ring, these horses are still performance horses.
Still, competitive horses need more energy (calories) than horses that are just sitting around or getting regular care. They may also need a little more protein, vitamins, and minerals. You should feed each horse differently, depending on how much and what kind of work it does, its overall health, and the body state you want it to be in.
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What to Look For in a Performance Horse Feed
When choosing a feed for your performance horse, there are a few key things to consider:
1. Quality Ingredients
Look for a feed with high-quality, digestible ingredients like alfalfa, timothy grass, and oat hays as the first ingredients. These provide nutrients without excess fillers. Whole grains like oats, barley and corn are also good. Avoid feeds with lots of cheap fillers, byproducts and hulls which provide little nutrition.
2. Optimal Protein And Energy
Performance horses need extra protein and calories to fuel their activity. Aim for at least 12-14% crude protein and high fat levels. Vegetable oils, rice bran and flax provide safe energy and healthy fats.
3. Added Supplements
For optimum health and performance, look for a feed with added joint supplements like glucosamine and chondroitin, hoof supplements such as biotin, and antioxidants such as vitamin E. These support bone, hoof and muscle health which are so important for performance horses.
Many performance horse feeds come in several versions to suit a horse’s age, activity level and nutritional needs. Choose a formula specially designed for performance horses in regular work. For some horses, a more concentrated feed may be beneficial. Talk to your vet about what level is right for your horse.
5. Transition slowly
When switching to a new feed, do so gradually by mixing a little bit of the new feed in with the current feed. Increase the new and decrease the old over 7-14 days. This allows the horse’s digestive system to adjust slowly and avoids upset stomach or diarrhea.
Providing a high-quality, customized feed designed for performance horses will give your equine athlete the energy and nutrition needed to thrive and succeed. By choosing a reputable brand and following some key tips, you’ll have your horse performing at their peak in no time.
Best Horse Feed for Performance Horse
To keep your performance horse in top shape, you need to provide high-quality feed specially formulated for competitive equines.
1. High Energy And Optimal Protein
The two most important components are high-energy and optimal protein. Performance horses expend a lot of energy during training and events, so look for a feed with a high fat content, which provides more energy than carbohydrates alone. Ingredients like rice bran, flaxseed, and vegetable oil are excellent sources of fat. For protein, aim for 12-16% crude protein from sources such as alfalfa meal, soybean meal, or fish meal.
Fiber is also essential for digestion and hindgut health in horses. Look for at least 10-15% fiber from ingredients like beet pulp, oat hulls or alfalfa. Also, make sure the primary grains are highly digestible, such as oats, barley or rice bran. More indigestible grains like corn can make some horses “hot”.
Don’t forget supplements! Performance horses benefit greatly from joint supplements like glucosamine and chondroitin to support musculoskeletal health. Electrolyte supplements help maintain hydration during activity. And for older horses, a senior feed or supplements may provide extra nutrition.
When switching feeds, do so gradually over 7-10 days to allow the horse’s digestive system to adjust. Always follow the recommended feeding amounts for your horse’s age, size and activity level. For most adult performance horses, 3-5 lbs of concentrate feed 2-3 times per day, in addition to free-choice hay, is typical.
By choosing a high-quality performance feed, supplements, and following good feeding practices, you’ll have your equine athlete in peak condition and ready to win. Now get out there and ride!