Feeding the Endurance Horse

 
Feeding the Endurance Horse

Endurance Horses are specialised equine athletes.  

Due to their primarily long and low intensity workloads, what they are fed and the feeding strategies employed both have the ability to impact significantly on performance.

Energy requirements for the Endurance Horse are high and the feed sources chosen to meet these requirements will impact body condition, performance and digestive health.

Forage – Essential for the Endurance Horse.

As with all equine diets, forage should form the base of the ration. 

Your locality, seasonality and individual situation will all influence the forage sources available to you.

Quality pasture provides a great base for all Endurance Horse diets, assisting to meet not only critical fibre requirements for digestive health, but also valuable nutrients including quality protein and vitamins. When pasture is limited, good quality grass hay makes the ideal substitute.

Lucerne can be a useful addition to the supplementary feed due to its ability to buffer stomach acid, however high intakes of Lucerne should be avoided as it will provide excessively high levels of Calcium and Protein to the ration, detrimental for the Endurance Horse.  Adding some Equifibre® Lucerne Pro to your concentrate feed is a great way to include Lucerne in the ration.

The super-fibre, sugarbeet, will contribute valuable fibre to the diet and in addition, as a super-fibre, it will provide more calories than traditional fibre sources, assisting to meet the increased energy demands of the Endurance Horse.  Low in starch and sugar, beet pulp is also great for horses that can become more highly strung on conventional grain-based feeds.  Dunstan Betabeet and Dunstan Sugarbeet provide two beet options for horses. Both products are soaked prior to feeding so are dust-free and provide an opportunity to assist with hydration.

Grain Based diets for the Endurance Horse.

Starch provided by grains also contributes valuable calories to assist in maintaining desirable body condition and performance for the Endurance Horse. 

Grains that are heat processed are ideal as they ensure better digestion of starch compared to non-heat processed grains, and therefore reduce the likelihood of starch overload in the hindgut. 

Dunstan Eezymix is a fully extruded grain-based full feed from the Dunstan range.  Dunstan Eezymix is highly palatable, digestible and nutritious with a full profile of vitamins and minerals.  Providing a diet that is balanced in vitamins and minerals is a key consideration.  A well-fortified ration will meet the elevated nutrient demands of the Endurance Horse to ensure ongoing high performance.

Fats for the Endurance Horse.

Fat is a very valuable inclusion to the diet of the Endurance Horse for a number of reasons. 

Fats are very calorie-dense so assist greatly in meeting the high energy demands of the Endurance Horse.  They also provide a wonderful ‘cool calorie’ source so once again are useful in the diets of horses that are more highly strung. 

 Research has also shown that fat added to the diet of the Endurance Horse results in increased use of fat stores during exercise. This is ideal and reduces the reliance on muscle and liver glycogen as energy sources. 

Fats need to be included in the diet for a period greater than 8 weeks for this benefit to be expressed.  Dunstan Trifecta Oil is a highly palatable blended oil that can be introduced to the diet providing an alternative fuel for high performance.  Adding oil to the diet also means horses can be provided with increased calorie contribution without having to eat more feed - great for those horses with a reduced appetite.

Salt for the Endurance Horse.

The addition of Salt is critical in the Endurance Horse diet and obviously more important as workloads and or temperatures increase and horses sweat more. 

Supplement Salt daily depending on daily sweat loss. Further electrolyte supplementation can be provided during extended work periods and in very hot conditions.

For more information or queries regarding feeding the Endurance Horse, contact Dunstan Nutrition Ltd

Gretel Webber
Equine Nutritionist Assoc.Dip.App.Sc, BBus, MSc Equine
Dunstan Nutrition Ltd