Home' The Horse Magazine : November 2016 Contents 118 FROM THE ARCHIVES
Elizabeth Owens, B Sc (Hons) is currently Adjunct Lecturer at the University of
Queensland, Gatton but she has had a long and varied career based on her specialised
knowledge of horses and how to feed them. Liz has advised a number of Australian
teams at both the Olympic and WEG level on their feeding programs, as well as acting
as feeding consultant to a number of Australia’s leading horse studs. An FEI dressage
competitor herself, Liz was the chef d’equipe for the Australian Dressage Team at the
World Equestrian Games in Caen. Read more >
There are many different processing
methods and the suitability of one
over another for your horse depends
on many factors such as: How fast
or slow he eats? Whether you are
chasing weight gain or loss. What else
you are feeding? What diet related
disorders your horse has and his
general health history.
So, now we have a fair picture
of your horse. Armed with this
information you should follow the
following rules to arrive at the best
diet for your horse:
Base the diet on roughage.
50% of the diet by weight should
be long stem roughage. I say long
stem i.e. hay, because chewing hay
stimulates saliva production which
is an important buffer against ulcers
which affects many eventing horses,
and also because this stimulates water
consumption. For mature working
horses, grassy hay is preferred, or at
most a blend of grassy and legume hay.
DO NOT FEED PRIME LUCERNE HAY
to working eventers. It is too high in
protein, interferes with fluid balance
and has been shown to increase
recovery time in eventers.
Select your concentrate.
This is the non-roughage part of
the diet. For eventers it needs to be at
least 8% fat or oil content (to improve
endurance) and ideally should contain
a high level of Vitamin E (to prevent
muscle damage). Lower protein is
better – maximum 12% unless you
are using a 1 kg per day supplement
which may then be as high as
16%. Ideally choose a concentrate
that incorporates processed or
cooked starch which would be
steam flaked, extruded, pelleted or
DO NOT FEED MORE THAN 2.5
KGS OF CONCENTRATE PER FEED.
Most eventers will need at least 5
kgs of concentrate per day – although
there are some notable exceptions.
By feeding 3 times per day, you will
improve feed utilization and reduce
the risk of digestive disorders. Feed
to appetite if you are increasing the
workload and you do not wish him to
lose body condition. This may mean
increasing the daily allowance until
at least a double handful of feed is left
each meal. Then you know that your
horse has consumed all he required.
Do not feed a concentrate closer
than 4 hours before an event.
You may feed approx 500 grams of
some lucerne chaff prior to riding/
competing as an aid in prevention of
development of ulcers.
Feed at least 50 grams of salt per
day. This should be used in addition to
electrolytes in warm weather.
Ensure your horse is receiving at
least 1500 iu of Vitamin E per day
derived either from the concentrate
portion of the diet or as a result of
supplementation with a dedicated
Vitamin E supplement.
Reduce the amount of concentrate
on non-work days.
Ideally, remove all grain from the
diet if the horse is not being worked. A
low starch pellet maybe used if weight
gain is an issue.
You should use the same measures
described above to monitor the
success or otherwise of your diet i.e.
weight of the horse, weight of feed
consumed or left, appearance of
urine and faeces, incidence of health
problems. Blood tests may also be
a useful tool, if interpreted by your
veterinarian, but hair analysis is not
a good measure of your horse’s total
current nutritional status although
they can be a useful diagnostic tool
when investigating history of heavy
Good nutrition is not difficult. There
are some excellent products on the
market, but there are also some very
dodgy ones. You do get what you pay
for so look for products that contain
a full declaration of composition right
down to the amounts of each vitamin
and mineral, and state the energy
level. You should also support those
companies that support your sport
and regularly sponsor the events in
which you aim to compete. They are
investing in your sport and deserve
your support in at least trying their
product. In a well formulated feed, you
should not need to add more than salt
and perhaps a vitamin E supplement.
If you are adding a half dozen extra
powders then my guess is you are
doing more harm than good and need
to go back to basics ie good quality
hay, a well formulated concentrate
Good luck. hTHM
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