Instore Pickup & Local Delivery


Your Cart is Empty

  • Add description, images, menus and links to your mega menu

  • A column with no settings can be used as a spacer

  • Link to your collections, sales and even external links

  • Add up to five columns

  • October 06, 2022 4 min read

    With spring underway, our longer, sunnier days mean more riding! Many riders during this time will take the opportunity to increase their horse’s fitness and training schedule, which means a potential adjustment to their feed requirements. The focus of feeding a high-performance horse, whether it is for competition or not, is to ensure that it has enough energy to perform the tasks, maintain its appetite, thus maintaining weight, and limit any possibility of gastric disease. 

    Energy Requirements

    Horses are incredible athletes, and like any athlete, they require energy to achieve optimal performance. If energy requirements are too low, you will notice that your horse doesn’t have the stamina to perform the tasks you are asking, and you may see its body condition score dropping. Therefore, energy is one of the essential components of the equine diet. 

    Carbohydrates, fat and protein can supply energy. If your horse requires more energy in its diet, then the focus should be on increasing the carbohydrate and fat components, as protein is used inefficiently for energy purposes. Before diving in and increasing the concentrate component (hard feed) of your horse’s diet, it is vital to ensure that your horse receives an adequate amount of forage. Forage, in the form of good quality long-stemmed hay or grass, will increase the horse's energy requirements while maintaining a healthy hindgut. It is recommended that the horse consume 1.5% of its body weight in forage per day, which is about 7.5kg for a 500kg horse. 

    If your horse has trouble maintaining weight or has a history of gastric disease or chronic tying up, then it may be beneficial adding fat to their diet. This can be in the form of oils, such as linseed or rice bran oils, or meals, such as soybean meal. If introducing edible oils into the horses' diet, they must be introduced very slowly, over a period of 2 weeks, and should comprise no more than 10% of the total ration, which is about 1 to 2 cups of oil per day. Adding fat to the diet is a great way to increase energy as it has 2.25 times more energy than grain, and it can replace the starch often associated with grain-based diets. 

    The energy component of the diet can also be increased by feeding grain rations. However, this is usually a last resort, as grains are often high in starch, which isn’t ideal for maintaining a healthy hindgut and can be heating for many horses. Grains such as oats, corn or barley can be added to a horse’s feed, but it is essential to ensure that you only feed a small amount of grain (about 1kg) in a meal. The reason for this is because grain contains starch and so is processed in the small intestine of the horse. If too much grain is fed, there is potential for the starch to skip digestion in the foregut and instead pass into the hindgut, and this is particularly true for grains that have not been processed before feeding (such as corn or barley). If starch is processed in the hindgut, then this can significantly increase the pH, causing the hindgut to become acidic. This acidic environment can lead to conditions such as hindgut acidosis and other problems. Hence, when feeding starch to a horse, we want to ensure that it is kept in small amounts and it is provided with good quality fibre sources, which will maintain the health of the gut.

    Vitamins and Minerals

    It is essential that a balanced diet is being fed to your horse at all times. If you make any adjustments to your horse’s feed or workload, then it is crucial to check that the vitamin and mineral supplementation is also adequate. Calcium and Phosphorus are essential in maintaining healthy bone structures in the horse, and the ratio must always be balanced to ensure strong bones. Generally, commercially available feeds and supplements will have accounted for this ratio. Magnesium is also another essential mineral to consider. The National Research Council recommends 0.1% to 0.3% magnesium per day for maintenance. Once again, commercially available vitamin and mineral supplements and feedstuffs will have accounted for optimal magnesium supplementation.

    B vitamins, including thiamin and riboflavin, are also essential to consider with increasing your horse’s workload. Horses that are fed high grain diets or that are under stress from competition generally will not efficiently absorb B vitamins. Hence supplementation is highly recommended. B vitamins are particularly important for energy generation, nervous system function and red blood cell formation. Vitamin E and selenium also deserve a special mention. Both nutrients protect the muscle cells from damage and aid in healing, and both are required to be increased if the workload of a horse changes. 


    Horses during competition season, or those where their workload increases, will need an increased amount of energy within their diet to ensure optimal performance. It is also vital to ensure that the vitamin and mineral component is adjusted and balanced, as horses will often need more supplementation if their workload increases.

    It is strongly recommended that your horse’s diet is balanced in line with the National Research Council (NRC) guidelines. If you feed commercially produced feeds, the manufacturers will often ensure that their feed is balanced against the NRC. 

    We stock various good quality products to help you feed your horse the best quality diet. For example, we stock linseed meal and oil, rice bran oil and different commercial feedstuffs from Hygain, Mitavite, Thompson and Redwood, Pegasus and more. We also stock commercially produced vitamin and mineral supplements ranging from Kohnke's Own and Hygain to Advanced feeds. As always, we are here to help, so please visit us in-store, online or give us a call!

    Leave a comment

    Comments will be approved before showing up.