Optimal nutrition for sport horses during competitions

Proper nutrition is critical to the well-being and performance of sport horses. The right nutrients not only provide the energy needed to cope with competition, but also to maintain the horse’s overall health.
Making sure the horse gets the right nutrients, even during competition days, is critical for optimal performance.

(We talked about it also in this Instagram post!)

Scuderia 1918 Tobago Z and Daniel Deusser – CHI de Geneve, 2021

How long before jumping should the horse eat? 

In the traditional system, you feed the horse with cereal based concentrate 2 hours before the competition. But this is not enough, especially with the cereal based food. You should feed the horses around 4 – 3 ½  hours before the competition. This is to prevent the starch from making the horse produce insulin, and making his metabilsm less responsive.

The nutritionists’ suggestion is to give hay 3 hour before the competition, and to leave it available in small hole haynet to let the horse to nibble the hay slowly. This also helps the horses to cope with stress.

Moreover for horse prone to gastric ulcer feeding short-chopped fiber helps to prevent “gastric splashing” by creating a protective fiber mat on top of the stomach contents. Current recommendation is to give small quantities (like 0.5 kg) of short-chopped fiber 30 minutes before exercise.

Fast tips to be sure that your horse is eating properly during the competitions:

– Avoid cereal-based meals within three hours of intense exercise but offering small amounts of forage or chopped fiber can help prevent gastric splashing;

– Do not change hay during the competition day and use small hay net (3×3) to let the horse to nibble hay slowly before the competition;

– Use of hay steamer or well soaked when you give hay while traveling

Article created with Prof. Emanuela Valle, Scientific Department of Veterinary Science, University of Turin.
In fact, Prof. Valle held a lesson with the three young riders participating in the Talent project, organized by Scuderia 1918 and Bridl.

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