Is your Horse performance ready : The Best Care for Hard Working Horses
Does your horse work hard?
When a horse works hard, training 5-6 days a week and spending its summers at events, whether it be local, state or national events, the owners need to take special precautions to ensure that the horse gets everything it needs in its diet and that special precautions are taken to keep the horse sound and feeling its best.
I mean, who doesn’t want to make sure their horse is in tip top shape to hopefully get the earnings going.
Nutrition for Performance Horses
Unlike retired or pleasure horses, performance horses need special feed (don’t worry, if your horse is more of a weekend warrior competitor – you can get by with regular feed). But strict performance horses require a slight increase in protein, especially during rodeo and even show season, needing about 9-11 percent compared to 8-10 percent for non-performance horses. That amount of protein is necessary to be sure that the horse’s muscles can continue to function properly. To accomplish this performance horses need to be fed high quality hay. High-level horses also need a lot of forage. This should be accomplished be allowing the horse to graze for at least part of the day. This gives the horse part of the needed forage and helps reduce the risk of ulcers that performance horses can be prone to. If the horse must be kept in his stall then the horse should be fed hay 3 or 4 times a day.
Should I feed my horse grain?
Grain is technically not necessary for these performance horses and can add unnecessary carbohydrates. However, since performance horses often need supplements some form of grain is often necessary. There are several alternatives to grain including things like alfalfa pellets or beet pulp.
Horse not maintaining weight during season?
A diet additive that is good for performance horses, and also horses that have trouble gaining weight, is fat, usually in the form of oil. The type of oil most commonly used is corn oil, although any type of vegetable based oil will work. The amount of oil fed can vary but generally two cups a day for a thousand pound horse will suffice. The oil should be mixed in with their grain and other supplements.
Keeping Performance Horses Sound
Performance horses are more at risk for lameness and need more precautions. For horses to stay sound, regular shoeing is necessary, usually at intervals of 4 to 6 weeks. Also very important for performance horses is the footing that they are trained on. There are different types of footing that are recommended for the different sports such as dressage or jumping; however the footing should always be solid and consistent. The footing needs to be free of rocks and any holes with the potential to cause a serious injury.
All horses should have their legs protected during hard work to avoid injury and add support if needed. Leg protection varies widely depending on the sport and the needs of the horse. Simple splint boots will protect the horse’s legs without adding too much unneeded support.
Maintaining a performance horse’s joints is also an important part of making sure the horse is comfortable and working at its best. To help a horse’s joints, medication and injections can be administered. There are several medications available and the decision of which to use should be discussed with a veterinarian.
There are also many alternative procedures that are available and may help performance horses with a lot of ailments. Alternative treatments may include chiropractic, massage or acupuncture. Any of these therapies may help a horse perform better or feel better overall and should be discussed with the horse’s trainer and veterinarian.
Along with all other precautions for our special friends who are competing, make sure you bring along some of our Natural Horse Fly Spray – it really is a life-saver while out on the road.
See you out there!