The athletic horse - feed your sport horse well

A sport horse must be fed according to its discipline and the intensity of its work.
More simply: the horse can only work if the chemical energy of the food is transformed into mechanical energy by the muscles.
Two operations are distinguished:
*aerobic: in the presence of oxygen, coming from the blood, which gives energy, CO2 and water; mainly in dressage and long-term disciplines such as endurance;
*anaerobic: without oxygen, which gives energy and lactic acid; mainly for intense, short-term efforts such as show jumping, cross-country, racing and endurance on uneven terrain.
To obtain sufficient energy, the horse has three main sources.

1) Starch:
The main energy supply is carbohydrates (starch). Starch is transformed into glucose in the small intestine by enzymes. Part of the glucose is available, the rest is stored in the muscles and the liver in the form of glycogen. The portion available in the muscles is used quickly, in the presence of oxygen, depending on the type of work required.
Once the available glucose is exhausted, the muscles will use glycogen in the absence of oxygen and produce lactic acid.
In the event of prolonged exercise, liver glycogen helps maintain the blood glucose level and the energy supply intended for the nervous system, so it is desirable not to deplete the liver's glycogen reserves.
Energy intake will not always have to be achieved through an increase in food supply; Excess starch can have harmful consequences: digestive disorders, colic, laminitis, diarrhea, loss of fitness (“burnt intestine”). Cereals contain 50-70% starch!

2) Lipids
It may be desirable to replace part of the starch with high quality lipids: polyunsaturated fatty acids omega 3 (linolenic acid) and omega 6 (linoleic acid) which are very energetic and very digestible (2 to 2.5 times more than starch). These help preserve the glycogen level in the muscles, without the risk of releasing lactic acid, because the advantage of fatty acids is that their metabolism only occurs aerobically!
Lipids are not transformed into glycogen, which is why it is necessary to pay attention to the intake of carbohydrates to maintain the stock of muscular and hepatic glycogen.
In sport horses, the desirable balance is 6-9% lipids and 32-35% starch and sugars, this can be subject to variations with regard to endurance horses for example, depending on the distances they will have to travel. Increasing lipid intake requires the same increase in vitamin E.
The intake of fats in the diet must be gradual in order to allow the digestive enzymatic system to adapt.
The fats mix well with muesli or flattened, wet barley.

3) Fodder (fibers)
Most important for the horse, it should constitute 75-100% of its food, the ration should therefore not exceed 25%. Fibers are broken down in the colon and cecum into carbohydrates and volatile fatty acids (VFA), in turn transformed into energy. Since the digestion of VFA is very slow, if the horse receives sufficient forage, it will always be able to benefit from a source of energy. Their metabolism is also aerobic.

In muscles, there are three types of fibers which differ in their speed of contraction and their mode of use of energy:
Type 1 : endurance, dressage, hiking.
Type 2 a : high level endurance, complete, driving, long distance running.
Type 2 b : show jumping, high level cross country, short distance races, endurance on uneven terrain.

Type 1 properties :
contraction : slow - energy : aerobic - energy source : fiber, lipids - strength : - - endurance : high - glycogen stock : medium - lipid stock : a lot - oxygen capacity : significant - type of work : walking , light.

Type 2a properties :
contraction : rapid - energy : (an)aerobic - energy source : lipids, starch - strength : + - endurance : average - glycogen stock : a lot - lipid stock : average - oxygen capacity : average - type of work : trot, gallop.

Type 2 b properties :
contraction : rapid - energy : anaerobic - energy source : starch - strength : + - endurance : low - glycogen stock : a lot - lipid stock : little - oxygen capacity : low - type of work : sustained gallop jump, strength.

Muscles never use only one type of fiber, each effort always requires a mixture but with a dominant type.
Glucose and glycogen can be used by all three types, but are essential for type 2b.
You should start administering lipids (oil) six weeks before the start of the season. Type 2a needs this time to adapt to using fat for aerobic energy.

Each discipline has its own food!
Forgive the comparison, but you wouldn't put diesel in a gasoline car!
The following paragraphs are intended solely to provide you with some advice and tips; it is impossible to give a ready-made “recipe”. Too many elements are variable: the individual, the level, lifestyles etc.

Endurance horse
Long distance aerobic effort, so need slow energy for a long time. It's necessary:
*excellent quality hay, at least 75% of the ration;
*; no big meals and not too many cereals to limit lactic acid production as much as possible, also prefer a food rich in lipids (up to 10%) and fiber and low in starch;
*prepare for a race: Equi-senior (stop the treatment 5 days before any competition) and 2 to 3 days before: electrolytes;
*recovery: %Equi'drink Détox-muscle%, Equi'drink Immunotonic , Biotics .

Jumping horse
Explosive efforts of short duration and rapid reactions, therefore need for rapid energy, anaerobically forming lactic acid. It's necessary:
*a food rich in starch and sugars, which contains at least 80% cereals;
* Vitamin E, Selenium & Lysine ;
*excellent quality hay.

Dressage and driving horse
Long-term effort, alternated with very controlled movements; you need flexibility, endurance and good nervous control.
*excellent quality hay for the duration of training;
*food containing 40-70% cereals and 5% lipids;
*a supplement containing vitamin E, selenium, lysine, possibly Equi'mélange Anti-stiffness .

Eventing horse
It must be fed like dressage and show jumping horses:
*excellent quality hay;
*food up to 70% cereals, rich in lipids (6-9%) and fiber;
*possibly 2 to 3 days before a competition for electrolytes, or prepare the horse with Equi-senior (stop the treatment 5 days before any competition), a supplement containing vitamin E, selenium, lysine; for recovery: Equi'drink Immunotonic , Biotics , Equi'mixture Anti-stiffness , Vitamin E, Selenium & Lysine .

To remember
*A meal rich in starch and/or sugars gives an increase in blood glucose levels within 15 minutes. The body then produces insulin to transport glucose to various tissues (liver, muscles). The blood glucose level drops rapidly and, in addition, insulin slows down the release of fatty acids. So never give a meal rich in starch 2-3 hours before important work.
*During work, the muscles need blood, which will be drawn from the digestive system not without causing negative effects.
*Always start with the hay and then the ration.
*The main constituent of the body is represented by proteins, but as a source of energy, they are less suitable. Each protein is made up of a significant number of amino acids. A deficiency of an amino acid, through chain reactions, can have a great influence on the health of your horse. Amino acids are provided by food in the form of crude proteins but can also be administered in the form of balanced complexes, associated with vitamins and minerals.
The more intense effort the horse is subjected to, the more protein it will need to consume. For a sport horse, the desirable intake is between 10 and 14%.

Do not forget that:
good results are the total of everything. You can feed your horse very well, but this will never compensate for morphological limitations, a lack of training or a lack of level of the rider!

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