Every owner and breeder wants to have the best horse in the world.
- Local features
- Genetic opportunities and specifications
- Type of usage
- – Horse-keeping
- – Animal health
- – Feeding.
As it is apparent from the above list, feeding is only a slice on the road to success. In other words, feeding is the foundation of success in the pyramid of success. Poor quality or incomplete feed can’t help us to be successful. Hay, oats, straw are essential ingredients of the traditional feeding. At the time when that was enough, there was a completely different task of horses, their life was stiffer. A ten-year-old horse didn’t go to battle, didn’t pull a post chaise and didn’t plow. Our horses have a much longer life span and at the age of 10, many racehorses have just started heavy-duty racing.
The plenty of invested work should not be wasted just because of improper feeding. If the foal has clubfoot, it’s 90% not his fault, it’s due to improper feeding. If our horse has colic, it’s not his fault, it’s due to improper feeding. If our mare slips her foal and it’s not due to infection or serious stress, it’s due to improper feeding. The steed didn’t have colic. Why? Because he didn’t have time for it!
Wild horses don’t have colic. Why Because they decide what and how much to eat! We need to keep our horse in excellent shape in the lack of movement and compulsory feeding. Lack of movement may seem to be exaggerated, but our horse works maximum 3 hours a day on an average basis. We take him out from the box and – preferably – after a warm-up he works hard, then goes back to box. There is no more real movement, however he may stand for several additional hours in the paddock. We don’t keep him in his natural environment, we don’t feed him as it should be naturally. We feed the horse, not the horse feeds himself!
We should feed the horse properly!
Taking into consideration the above detailed facts, it’s not an easy task at all. I didn’t refer to the badly planned digestive system of the horse, which has been mentioned several times – I think it’s wrong. In the past horses grazed on the fields for 16 hours, their digestive system was filled constantly. (Therefore, it’s not badly planned, just doesn’t meet with our modern expectations.) In today’s world this is not the case, horses are not planned for modern feeding habits. The digestive system has not been transformed, for such a change millions of years are needed. We need to find the solution with taking into consideration the endowments of horses.
Unfortunately, in most cases horses don’t generate profit, therefore there are just a few digestion related physiological studies compared with other species, but the available data – according to our present knowledge – is sufficient.
We know the following:
– The protein demand
– The energy demand
– The minerals demand
– The vitamin demand
– The fiber demand
– The amino acid demand
If we are aware of all this, we just need to mix the feed and give to the horse. Work can begin. Work, because in case we have a well-fed and healthy horse, we will not win a race. But if the condition is inadequate, we will never be able to get the maximum out of our horse.
Let’s give the chance to ourselves and our horse to win!
Sport horse breeding faced with tough demands nowadays, which can’t be met with extensively raised foals. We expect maximum performance from our animals, while we may not provide all nutrients or we overfeed them.
The growth potential of foals is even better than some cattle, exceeding 1.500 grams per day in the first 90 days. It would be a pity to miss this opportunity, but this may also be particularly dangerous.
The daily nutrition requirements of horses are listed in the following table / according to USA NRC standard 1989 / 550 kg body weight
|Suckling foal 4 months||With young mare||Lactating mare||Sport horse|
|Crude protein (gram/day)||720||820||1400||1120|
|Digestible energy (MJ/day)||60||80||120||110|
|Lysin (gram / day)||35||30||50||35 – 45|
|Vitamin A (IU/day)||20.000||24.000||24.000||20.000|
|Vitamin D (IU/day)||6.000||6.000||6.000||3.000|
|Vitamin E (IU/day)||800||800||800||800|
Despite the series of warnings, a lot of people overfeed their horses. Overfeeding means mainly a high energy entry. Explanation of overfeeding effect is the following. As a result of overfeeding the croup and the thigh become larger, which is the result of the production of growth and thyroxin hormones. Their increased presence results in elevated insulin levels due to high energy feed. The variable hormone level, which follows the feedings tolls the foal’s body. It is also a fact an obese foal will never be a good racer. Changes in the level of insulin and glucose in the blood, as well as a sudden rise in time, raises another problem, the effect on horses’ nervous system. There are still experiments in the human aspect to what extent the sudden increase in insulin levels contributes to the development of manic depression and schizophrenia. In any case, it is certain that the brain does not do well with the variable glucose supply. Variable insulin levels also increase the level of growth hormone in the body, leading to a different growth of joints and cartilages.