Hot weather, combined with the physiological stress of travelling and competing, can increase the risk of dehydration in horses which is likely to compromise performance and recovery. In addition to this, staying away from home results in changes in daily routine that can also have a negative impact on digestive health and thus ultimately performance.
There are, however, several things you can do to reduce the risk of dehydration and improve recovery times for your horse. Dengie’s nutritionists have the following advice to ensure your horse or pony remains in the peak of condition whilst travelling and/or staying away from home:
- Give a fibre-based feed to provide enough energy for sparkle but without the fizz. Over-excitable behaviour can mean a horse sweats more which increases the rate of dehydration.
- Make sure your horse has access to plenty of clean fresh water even whilst traveling.
- Alfalfa provides a great source of naturally occurring minerals which are easier for the horse to absorb than inorganic sources. Minerals such as potassium are lost in sweat and so alfalfa can help counteract losses incurred when travelling and competing – especially if the horse doesn’t have access to fresh pasture which is normally a great source of potassium for horses.
- To aid in rapid rehydration try using a soaked fibre feed such as Dengie Alfa-Beet. The highly digestible fibre will also provide a source of slow release energy
- Replace lost grazing time with plenty of forage, fibre increases chewing time which in turn aids digestion, increases saliva which neutralises acidity and keeps the gut functioning normally.
- Lack of fibre in a diet has been shown to make the gut more vulnerable to attack from harmful bacteria, which is of course a greater risk in high density areas such as competitions. Feed plenty of fibre while you are away and consider using a digestive supplement such as prebiotics or yeast.
- Electrolytes, essential salts that the body needs to function optimally, are also lost in greater quantities during competition or travelling, through increased sweating. Adding electrolyte supplements to your horse’s water will help to rehydrate and keep the body functioning normally.
- Alfalfa provides slow release energy with a naturally low sugar and starch content, which helps to keep energy and stamina levels consistent throughout the day.
- The cool down period post exercise period is really important as this is when the body clears waste products from metabolism from the body via the lymphatic system. Half of the horses lymph nodes are in the large intestine and the peristalsis movement of the gut helps to push the lymph through the nodes and out of the body. Feeding plenty of fibre will help “detox” the body.
Good to know:
Dengie Alfa-A Oil, a pure alfalfa and oil-based feed, provides as much energy as a competition or conditioning mix but with around 10 times less starch – a great way to provide energy for peak performance and recovery but without the risk of digestive upsets.
Fibre that can be soaked:
Dengie Alfa-Beet a high-fibre, low sugar and starch, conditioning feed. The combination of alfalfa and unmolassed sugar beet pulp provides ‘slow release’ energy in the form of highly digestible fibre. Alfa-Beet is easy to use as it soaks to a mash much more quickly than conventional sugar beet pulps. Soaking recommended three parts water to one-part Alfa-Beet.
Dengie Alfalfa Pellets rich in calcium and other naturally occurring vitamins and minerals, alfalfa is naturally low in sugar (5%) and provides a natural buffer to acidity that can be brought on by stress.
Dengie Grass Pellets – 100% naturally grown meadow grass with no added sugar. Naturally sweet they are ideal at tempting fussy feeders!
For help and advice on all aspects of feeding call the Dengie Feedline: 0845 345 5115*
*Call charges apply see website for details
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