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Feeding the High Performance Horse

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  • Feeding the High Performance Horse

    While I understand that each horse is different, I am curious what people feed their high performance horses (say, Prix St. George and above.)

    Do you use custom blends? If so, what do you put in them?

    If you use a commercial feed which one? What extra supplements – vitamins, minerals, fats, etc.

    This would be in addition to free choice, high quality hay.


  • #2
    I have 2 PSG horses - I feed Purina Ultium. I add cosequin. They do have high quality hay that is offered 4 times a day.


    • #3
      I think it really does depend on the horse and the rider. Each horse is individual, also one rider's idea of what daily work is needed may be WAAAAY more than another rider's, especially if one horse is getting turnout and one isn't. Some horses are easy to train and don't need alot of repetition; others do, etc.

      I know that my trainer who represented her country internationally fed her horses up to about 16 lbs a day of a high performance horse feed (basically a ration balancer mixed with a sort of grain mix) and a ton of hay. Those horses were working really hard. She didn't turn them out, so she often got on for a hack in the morning and then a real work out (one and one half hours) in the afternoon and a handwalk at night. Another trainer of mine competes in the high performance classes nationally, but the horse she shows is an easy keeper and he basically gets two pounds of ration balancer and hay. Someone else I know feeds up to 18 lbs of ultium and grass/alfalfa hay as well as a good serving of a fat supplement and her horses work great and are calm on that!

      My mare that I am starting at PSG this year, and schooling up through Grand Prix, is fed two lbs of grass ration balancer, a half cup of ground flax, and about 20 to 25 lbs of timothy hay per day (I keep a full hay net in her stalls, some days she eats more and some less). She is an easy keeper. I wanted her to lose about 100 lbs, and just from the increased demand of her work this winter, she has dropped 50. As the demands increase, so do the calorie needs, but not as much as one might think if the horse is an easy keeper. Other horses can drop weight just from standing in their stalls, so it does depend on the horse, what it needs. One thing I would not do with a horse that is in demanding training is withhold hay. They need it to neutralize stomach acid. Also, with her, because she IS an easy keeper, I prefer a medium/low to medium quality hay so that she can eat more of it. She has the extra weight on BECAUSE the barns I've boarded at buy too high a quality of hay (LOL, imagine complaining about this) and I don't wish to ration it. If I had control of the hay, I would just buy lesser stuff for her.

      With my old FEI horse who was ulcer prone, I didn't like to feed him starches, but he was the opposite of an easy keeper, so he got a big bucket of beet pulp and alfalfa hay in addition to the ration balancer, flax and free choice timothy.

      I think you have to adjust as you go along and see what the horse needs. You get input from the vet, the saddle fitter, the masseuse, etc., as to the condition of the muscles and hooves and how the horse is developing and you can adjust as you go along.

      Some of the top riders do hair/mineral analysis (like from Ukele) and have their hay analyzed and get a custom supplement made that they only have to add oats to for energy and maybe some fat and protein.


      • #4
        a lot of HP riders use Ultium


        • #5
          Of my three career Grand Prix horses, two were fed Ultium exclusively, and one only just recently started turning her nose up at Ultium, so I've added some Omolene 500. Both are very high fat feeds - important for the slow-burn energy that horses need for sports that require endurance, but also for these three horses who are all harder keepers. I prefer the Ultium - it's also lower sugar, and VERY high fiber, but the current Grand Prix horse has been on a hunger strike for the last month, so I'm experimenting with the Omolene to try and make it more appealing. It's working, for now. If she needs to stay on it longer-term I'll add some beet pulp to make up for the lost fiber.

          My 8-year-old, who just did his first PSG, gets a tiny scoop of Omolene 100. He's a very easy keeper, and any more calories makes him both large and even more firebreathing than he normally is. He'll be a Grand Prix horse in time, and I don't think he'll need any more feed than he's currently getting - just the way nature made him.

          All of my horses, high performance or not, get an electrolyte and a tummy supplement from Uckele Nutrition called GUT. I like to start them on a joint supplement (Uckele's TriLube Xtra - Glucosamine, Chondroitin, HA and MSM) once they start collection. Two of my horses, the Grand Prix mare and my 4-year-old, get an amino acid blend called TriAmino, which I've been really impressed with for helping horses add muscle. The baby, being four, of course has no muscle, but for the Grand Prix mare she's always been tough to put muscle on and get fit - the TriAmino's been the secret.

          All three of the Grand Prix horses also get/got Cocosoya Oil, as an added fat source. The PSG guy certainly doesn't need any additional fat! He does get a small cup of flax a day, as an experiment - he's prone to vicious scratches, and I wanted to see if the flax helped promote healthy skin from the inside out. So far, it seems to be helping.

          All my horses get free choice Timothy hay, and a white salt brick.
          spriesersporthorse.com | farm on Facebook | me on Facebook | blog


          • #6
            My mares routine/feed would knock most pro riders into a tizzy.

            She gets 4lbs a day of Winergy Equilibrium Senior which for the non-UK folk is this:


            I add a small amount of vit/mineral supplement as she gets less than the RDA in the feed as she needs less of the Winergy than normally recommended for her size. Only other thing she gets is Cortaflex.

            Has around 30lbs of 'pony' timothy haylage a day - basically second cut haylage, the first cut is my supplier's 'racehorse' grade = rocket fuel!

            From March to November she is out by day in at night. December - March she goes out for a couple of hours a day and is in the rest. She lives in a herd with my other two mares and an elderly gelding.

            I keep my old lady the same way now and did when she was competing and she stayed sound and healthy all of her career and came back after a maternity break after having her first foal at the venerable age of 17yo. She is on the Growth version as she is 10 months preggers with her second foal.

            The rising 4yo is not under-saddle yet and gets the Low version.

            What I like about the Winergy is the low starch content. My horses have never been better conditioned, they seem to need relatively small amounts and are really level-headed on it.


            • #7
              When I had an FEI horse I made up my own mix, based on oats, sunflower seed and or high fat soyabean meal, electrolytes, vit/min supp and a cup of oil in each feed.I would also feed soaked copra meal to keep hydration up. I used to soak a bucket of it each day and put about a kilo on top of the feed for all the horses
              He didn't get much grass hay, more alfalfa. I think really this was a mistake, but I wanted him to not develop a hay belly.A lot of FEI horses don't get enough hay because it makes them look tubby,in retrospect I think that's a bad approach.
              I didn't feed through joint supps, as i'm not convinced they work, but did monthly 'Pentosan' shots.


              • #8
                It really depends on where you are and what kind of hay you have

                I'm in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, we have excellent grass hay.

                I use Blue Seal sporthorse pellets along with LinPro™ at double the normal rate, whole flax seed, Muscle Mix™, and joint supplements, Keraflex™ and HyCel™.

                I actually feed this combo to all of the competition/show horses except that the younger ones get just the normal rate of LinPro™.
                But I do find the the combo of LinPro™ and Muscle Mix™ helps with muscle development, strength development and stamina a lot, esp when they start really needing to collect. But it can mean too much energy and power when they are still young and not yet fully accepting of the aids, so I wait until they are fully accepting of the riders aids before I power them up with the double dose.

                When I increase it I really feel the difference, most esp in the stamina and speed of recovery after work.

                Melyni (PhD) PAS, Dipl. ACAN.
                Sign up for the Equine nutrition enewsletter on www.foxdenequine.com
                New edition of book is out:
                Horse Nutrition Handbook.



                • #9
                  I'm a wee bit spesh (as is my horse) and won't feed pre-mixes ever again. Having almost had him go through career ending moments due to diet we had a specialist design his diet. I've gone right back the basics of oats, corn, barley, soya meal with alfalfa chaff (I don't even know if you guys have that over there!?!?!) and plenty of good quality alfalfa and meadow hay. He also gets performance oils, fenugreek, garlic and a good all around mineral supplement as well as Lube-All (Condroitin, glucosomine, MSM and HA). He has a salt lick at his disposal in his paddock, and also gets electrolytes added if he has worked sufficiently hard enough!
                  He doesn't get stabled as he hates it with a passion and spends his days out in the paddock. If the weather really turns to crap he will come in, but only for a few hours. All of my other horses are on similar feeds. I love the fact I can adjust what he is getting every day depending on how hard he has worked, same for the younger horses (who admittedly don't get nearly as much oats/corn as he does!)

                  He has never looked better and his energy levels are spot on. Plus its a damned sight cheaper than what we were having to pay to keep him in similar condition on a pre-mix (but causing all sorts of internal issues!!)
                  If you want to feel rich, just count all of the things you have that money can't buy.