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Five Tips to Maintain Ideal Body Condition in Performance Horses

Aug 12, 2020

The outside appearance of a horse can be an indicator of overall health and wellbeing on the inside

A shiny hair coat, strong muscle tone, sound hooves and ideal body condition reflect a robust, healthy horse that is ready to work. Health and nutrition are vital in helping performance horses consistently be at the top of their game, especially in events requiring repeated runs in a single day or working hard several days in a row. 

Chestnut horse performing in dressage with tips on performance horse nutrition
Horses cannot sustain top level performance in less than top level condition. Help ensure performance horses are maintaining ideal body condition by asking these five questions:

Is the forage high-quality and available in sufficient quantities?

It’s not uncommon to find hay and pasture that appears to be of good quality but actually aren’t. Test your hay and pasture grass to learn the nutrient content and digestibility. 
 
Horses themselves can often tell you about your hay quality, too. When the quality and digestibility of hay goes down, the amount a horse eats will also go down. If your horses are not eating all their hay, you are either feeding too much or the hay isn’t great quality. 

Is my horse properly taking in, chewing and swallowing both forage and feed?

Observe your horse eating forage and feed. You may find that while taking in food, your horse may not be chewing and/or swallowing it. This is especially common in older horses with poor dentition. The horse appears to be eating well, but the forage or feed is actually balling up in the cheeks and then being dropped on the ground. Your veterinarian should evaluate any indication of dental problems.

Am I feeding the right type of concentrate for my horses’ lifestyle?

Horses in different stages of life and with different levels of activity will have different nutrient and caloric requirements. Choosing a high-quality feed that fits your horses’ age and activity level can help ensure nutritional requirements are being met.

Am I feeding enough?

Feeding by the “scoop” rather than by weight, often makes it easy to overestimate the amount of feed you are providing. Weighing your feed with a scale will help. Additionally, be sure to consult the feeding directions on the feed bag or tag. Most feeds are formulated to be fed at a minimum daily amount needed to provide the basic nutrients and calories an easy keeper requires.
 
If you are feeding less than that amount, all the protein, vitamin and mineral needs of your horse likely won’t be met, even if they were maintaining adequate body condition. In those cases, a more concentrated ration balancer is the best choice.

Am I feeding the right type of feed for my horses’ lifestyle?

Weight gain and bloom are achieved not only through calories but also from providing a diet complete with essential amino acids, fatty acids, vitamins and minerals. All these nutrients play a role in hair coat, muscle tone, hoof quality, immune function and over-all appearance and health.
 
Purina® horse feeds are formulated to support the calorie and nutritional demands of performance horses.
  • Strategy® Professional Formula GX: Meets the nutritional needs of the vast majority of horses with a single formulation.
  • Omolene® 200: Provides steady energy to fuel top performance for horses in competition, broodmares and yearlings.
  • Omolene® 400: A complete feed with built-in forage for breeding and competition horses.
  • Omolene® 500: Includes balanced fat, fiber and whole grain soluble carbohydrates support sustained performance for hard-working and endurance equine athletes.
  • Ultium® Competition: Seamlessly “blends” three fuel sources into a smooth, “steady” stream of energy for top performance horses.
Whether you prefer sweet feeds or pelleted rations, these products are designed to provide the calorie and nutrient level needed to support weight gain and bloom.
 
Looking for the right feed to keep your horse in shape? Sign up for the Feed Greatness® Challenge to try a Purina® horse feed.*
 
*The Feed Greatness® Challenge is a 60-day feeding trial where you will feed Purina® feed, monitor your horse's performance and health, take pictures and receive emails with helpful information.


---- 
Karen E. Davison, Ph.D.

Director, Nutritionist, Equine Technical Solutions
Purina Animal Nutrition



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