One of the biggest questions people have when adopting an off the track thoroughbred is how do I feed my horse. The thought of feeding them grain scares the daylights out of them and we don’t want our retired racehorse too “hot” so we don’t enjoy riding them. So how do we balance that with providing them all their daily nutritional requirements and keeping a nice rounded topline at the same time?
There are many premixed feeds out there that are very good and sometimes the best answer is to just keep it simple. Grains are not always a bad thing it all comes down to the level of exercise your horse will be doing. If you intend to use your OTT as a pleasure horse, for example, that does not require high levels of energy, so a cool energy source is recommended. However, if you intend to compete at a higher intensity such as eventing, polocrosse or showjumping, then you are going to need increased energy levels to maintain that intensity. Thought must also be given to the diet your horse has already been on, you may need to gradually add any new feeds and adjust out the old one so as not to upset their gut and allow them to let down from the high energy diet.
Below are some points that may help with these questions and highlight some key areas to consider
- Grains – they contain higher levels of soluble carbohydrates which can heat a horse up, however, this is dependent on your horse’s individual requirements and the level of work they are doing. If they are requiring a lot of energy the sugars and starches will be utilised quickly before it can affect their behaviour. However, if they are not utilising that energy it can cause “Fizzy” behaviour or be stored as body fat. If considering feeding some grain micronized forms are the best, they produce a reduced response compared to unprocessed grains.
- Hay/Chaff – are a slower release energy as they are fermented in the hindgut. Lucerne hay or chaff is a very good source of protein, energy, and calcium. Meadow hay and grass hay, if good quality, are also very good at providing protein and energy. The cereals grain hays and chaffs are slightly lower in energy and protein than the other two.
- Oils – Oil is a cool form of energy and also helps improve coat quality. Ranvet’s Grand Prix oil provides a formulated blend of both Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids providing your horse with a cool energy source.
- Maintaining muscle mass and topline – People often find this a little harder in the OTT however, the importance of topline cannot be overlooked. It helps with balance and rhythm, assists with muscle fatigue, improves strength, and helps support the rider. Your horse’s ability to maintain or build topline depends on the quality of protein your OTT is receiving in their feed. Proteins contain amino acids which are known for their ability to assist with muscle repair and building. Ranvet’s Topline FX is a concentrated protein supplement designed to promote the building of topline when in conjunction with adequate exercise. It has low starch levels and isn’t to be considered an energy source, so is a great choice for your OTT. It will help build and retain muscle topline without heating your horse up.
- Vitamins and Minerals – These are generally received naturally through the feed your horse consumes however, sometimes for numerous reasons, they don’t quite get the daily recommended amount they need. Deficiencies of both minerals and vitamins can cause numerous problems, however, this can be easily balanced by adding a vitamin and mineral supplement to their feed such as Ranvet’s Ration Balancer.
The most important thing to think about when designing a diet for your Off The Track Thoroughbred is to always try and match your energy input to your energy output, by doing this it should help to prevent your horse getting fizzy or hot. Be patient, it will depend on your horse’s individual needs and requirements and nothing is set in stone. It is often the case that you will need to monitor and adjust your feed as you get to know your horse a bit better. If there are any doubts you can always seek help or assistance, you can have your horses diet analysed to be sure they are receiving a balanced well-supported diet.
You can get your horses diet analysed for free by our nutrition team HERE
Written by Selena P.