Owning a horse is a profound commitment that extends far beyond the thrill of riding across open fields or successfully jumping around a 1.50m track. It is a role that demands versatility: not just as a rider and caretaker, but also as an amateur veterinarian, saddle expert, hoof-care specialist, and dietary consultant. We, as horse owners, wear many hats.
Among these responsibilities, one crucial aspect that often challenges even the most seasoned horse owners is equine nutrition.
The intricacies of what, how much and when to adjust feed to feed can become a labyrinth of uncertainty. However, mastering the fundamentals of feeding can significantly alleviate the challenges that come with managing your horse's nutrition.
We all understand that horses have specific dietary needs crucial to maintaining their health and sustaining their energy levels – but what and how?
Just like us, horses require a balanced diet to meet their nutritional demands, with calorie intake being the cornerstone of their vitality and performance. Understanding their caloryrequirements involves more than just the quantity of food; but also, the quality and type of nutrients provided in each element of their feeding regime.
Caloric intake serves as the primary determinant of a horse's energy output. This energy is essential for various bodily functions, including movement, digestion, and temperature regulation.
Adequate calorie consumption is paramount. However, it isequally crucial to recognize that a horse's energy requirements fluctuate with seasons and workload.
Seasonal variations significantly impact energy needs. During colder months, your horse requires more energy to maintain body temperature, leading to an increase in calorie demand. Conversely, in warmer weather, their energy requirements might decrease, but hydration becomes crucial.
Adjusting your horse’s diet accordingly ensures they have the necessary energy to thrive throughout the year- regardless of season.
Your horse's activity level directly influences its energy demands. Whether a leisure companion or an athlete in training, workload influences the necessary calorie intake of your horse.
As the level of work intensifies, so does the need for additional energy. Failing to adjust calory intake accordingly can lead to adverse effects. Loss of condition, poorperformance, behavioural changes and digestive issues can all trace back to incorrect calory consumption.
Tailoring a diet that aligns with your horse's changing energy needs is vital. While various options serve as energy sources, not all are created equal.
Sugars, while providing energy, are not the most efficient source due to their rapid release and potential to cause energy spikes followed by crashes. This fluctuation can notablyimpact your horse's behaviour and performance.
Raw maize and oats are a traditional source of energy, they too, can pose digestive risks due to their higher starch content. Extruded or processed grains, on the other hand, offer a safer alternative, minimizing the risk of digestive complications while providing a consistent energy release.
At Spurwing, we process all the grains used in our grain inclusive range of rations.
Our oats are rolled in order to increased surface area. Thisallows digestive enzymes to work more effectively on the starches contained, making the nutrients more accessible for absorption.
Our maize is extruded, the cell walls are broken down through heat exposure. This allows for a 60% increase in digestibility as it moves through the foregut. This allows efficient nutrient absorption to take place early in the digestive process and undigested maize passing through to the large intestine for fermentation drastically reduced.
The dense calories and easy digestibility of fats seed them as the top nutritional source of energy for your horse. Dietary fats provide a sustained release of energy which promotesconsistency in performance without the concerns of unpredictability that can be associated with other energy sources. Including fats in a horse's diet offers a more efficient, safe means of meeting their energy requirements.
Our team has streamlined the process of calorie maintenance for your horse. By combining highly digestible, extruded maize and full fat soya, two viable energy sources, Spurwing’s Energy Supplement provides a safe, efficiently digestible addition to your horse’s diet. High in calories, our Energy Supplement provides a safe, slow-release energy for your horse. This is a calorie dense supplement that is fed in small quantities due to its highly digestible nature and is an ideal way to adjust calorie intake according to workload and performance needs.
Understanding the energy requirements of your horse involves a holistic approach - evaluating seasonal variations, workload,temperament and available calorie sources.
By carefully assessing and adjusting the diet to include safe and efficient sources of energy, you can ensure optimal health and performance for your equine companion. Balancing energy intake with activity levels remains key to unlocking the true potential and overall well-being.
Author- Adèle McLeod
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