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Racing, galloping, parading, and giving it all on the track is a hard job requiring many hours of training. But when your steed brings home the gold medal, it's worth it.
However, if you’re going to achieve all of that, you’ve got to make sure you’ve got a peak performance equine.
Performance equines need rigorous care, as they are more susceptible to injuries from work overload. In this guide, you’ll learn the necessary care and supplementation that every wise owner should give their steed to keep him up to speed!
The Importance of Peak Equine Performance
Before we go over all the ins and outs of performance equine care, let’s take a second to talk about why getting your horse in good shape is so critical.
Maximum equine performance, be it sport or leisure horse vitality, is of great importance in various fields, such as sports competition, fieldwork, and horse breeding. When your steed’s horse health is up to snuff, your horse is more likely to gain experience, improve their capabilities, and have an easier time training.
In disciplines such as horse racing, show jumping, and dressage, obtaining maximum equine performance is essential to achieve good results. A horse in optimal physical and mental condition will be able to compete at the highest level, overcome obstacles, perform technical movements with precision, and maintain adequate resistance during tests.
Also, horses used for farming, ranching, or transport must maintain a work rate that allows them to plow, pull heavy loads, or run long distances without becoming overly fatigued. The end result is that their high performance has a positive impact on farm productivity and efficiency.
On the breeding side, birthing great foals and improving the breed also depend on peak performance. Horses that demonstrate outstanding performance in terms of endurance, strength, agility, temperament, and other desirable characteristics are selected and bred. This contributes to the genetic improvement of the equine species and ensures the continuity of valuable bloodlines.
Basically, when your horse’s performance is top-notch, your job gets a whole lot easier. And of course, your steed looks and feels his best, too—it’s a win-win for everyone!
Recommended Equine Performance Nutrition
Proper nutrition is critical to horse performance. Providing horses with the necessary nutrients in the right amounts helps maintain optimal health, stamina, and performance.
Of course, working with a veterinarian or equine nutritionist is the best way to know what foods we should feed our horses, the amount, and the time of the day. He or she will help you develop an appropriate feeding program and adjust it based on your horse’s needs and profile.
Speaking of individual needs, each horse is unique and has individual nutritional requirements. A couple of things that can affect your horse’s nutrition include:
- Activity level
- Actual health status
- Work field (racing, farming, etc)
Let’s go over a couple of different aspects of peak performance equine nutrition.
Hay and Fodder
Good quality hay and forage are vital in your horse's diet. Hay provides fiber, vitamins, and essential minerals. Also, it’s always recommended to provide consistent access to quality grass whenever possible, as it’s a natural source of important nutrients.
Solid Horse Food
Depending on the activity level and the horse's individual needs, a concentrated or balanced feed should ideally be added to the diet.
These are specifically formulated to provide additional nutrients that may be necessary for equine performance, such as protein, vitamins, and minerals. Choosing a brand that offers high quality and adaptability to the horse's specific needs and requirements is important.
It’s not just your horse’s feed that matters. Good hydration with clean, fresh water is also essential for horses. They should have it available at all times, both in the barn and in the pasture or training areas. High-performance equines in horse training need even more water to stay hydrated and help regulate body temperature.
On average, a healthy adult horse must drink between 20 and 30 liters of water daily. However, the exact amount of water a horse requires may vary.
Besides giving your horse his regular feed, you might also want to incorporate horse supplements into your performance equine’s diet. Horse supplements contain key ingredients which help horses feel their best and achieve maximum performance.
On top of that, horse supplements can provide additional nutrients and vitamins and ensure that your steed is getting all the nutrients he needs, even if his feed doesn’t contain them.
A couple of key nutrients you’re likely to find in horse health supplements include:
These kinds of ingredients can help keep your horse limber and steady on his feet, which can lead to improved performance on the farm, in the ring, and on the racetrack.
Equine Performance Minerals
Just as high-performance athletes must balance the loss and gain of electrolytes, water, and minerals, high-performance equine athletes must replenish these nutrients. Otherwise, they may become dehydrated and suffer detrimental changes in acid-base balance.
Horses undergoing intense training and exercise can lose up to 15 liters of sweat per hour. If they are dehydrated and lacking in essential minerals, it can directly affect blood circulation and lead to serious diseases such as:
- Metabolic myopathies
- Problems with temperature regulation
The main minerals that must be taken into account to achieve optimum equine performance are those found in higher concentrations in sweat, which is why maintaining these minerals plays a crucial role in equine nutrition and are essential for equine performance and health.
We’ve broken down each of these minerals and why they matter in the below table.
Why It Matters
Essential for bone health, muscle development, and nerve function in horses. Maintaining strong bones and preventing diseases such as equine osteoporosis is necessary. A deficiency of this mineral can negatively affect performance and increase the risk of injury and fractures.
This mineral functions together with calcium to maintain bone and muscle health. It plays an important role in energy metabolism and ATP production, which is the main energy source for muscles and the whole body during training.
Supports the proper functioning of muscles and helps regulate blood glucose levels, it’s involved in energy production and protein synthesis. A magnesium deficiency can lead to muscle problems, irritability, and poor performance.
Essential for fluid and electrolyte balance in the body, as it maintains cellular osmotic pressure and the body's acid-base balance and also helps regulate muscle and nerve function. A deficiency of potassium can cause muscle weakness and cramps.
Sodium and chloride
Responsible for regulating body fluids and conducting electrical impulses in nerves and muscles.
Makes up a large part of the amino acids methionine, cystine, cysteine, biotin, and thiamine, as well as other substances such as insulin, taurine, and chondroitin sulfate.
Microminerals such as iron, zinc, copper, manganese, iodine, and selenium are needed in smaller but equally important amounts.
How to Improve Equine Performance
So, now you know getting your horse into great shape is the key to helping him feel and perform his best. But how do you go about that?
Improving equine performance involves certain activities, including:
- Proper training
- A balanced diet
- Proper handling and care
- Monitoring and evaluation
- Having a great attitude
It may also involve introducing supplements into your horse’s diet to help ensure he’s getting all the vital nutrients he needs. Just remember that when starting from scratch, seek the help of an equine performance expert or veterinarian to assess the horse's current condition and propose a gradual improvement plan. That way, you don’t overwhelm or overwork your horse.
A structured and progressive training program, or even just regular horse exercise, is essential to improve equine performance. Training should include specific exercises to develop the horse's endurance, strength, agility, and flexibility. Working with an experienced trainer or instructor can help design a training program tailored to the horse's individual needs.
A couple of pro tips for proper training include:
- Short exercises at a slow pace allow the horse to respond more quickly to the rider's commands, helping him improve his speed.
- Endurance exercises, such as long rides with varied trotting and galloping, prepare the horse to compete in strenuous races.
- Use the upper stride to improve the horse's ability to recover and maintain the hind stride.
- Set realistic goals for each workout to keep your horse motivated.
- Vary the training sessions, carry out relaxation activities for the horse, and keep him interested in the training.
- Provide adequate breaks based on training time; an overworked horse will not perform as well.
- Use muscle-strengthening exercises to improve strength and endurance.
- Manage and pay attention to the horse's breathing, it will indicate its state of fatigue.
- Use balance exercises to improve coordination and speed.
- Use flexibility exercises like horse yoga to keep muscles in optimal condition.
Food is the fuel of any living thing, and, as with humans, giving your horse a well-balanced diet is one of the most important steps to achieving a peak performance equine. For equine performance, you must keep the following factors in mind while planning your steed’s diet:
- Type, duration, intensity, and distance of exercise.
- Stage of training
- Climatic conditions
A horse can eat up to 2.5% of its live weight in dry matter per day, i.e. a 500 kg adult horse would eat 12.5 kg of feed daily. High-performance equines may need to eat up to 3% of their live weight in dry matter to meet their nutritional needs.
If you’re unsure how much food to give your horse, you can always consult a vet. The vet will be able to help you get the exact types and quantities right so that you can get your horse on the road to perfect performance.
Introducing Horse Supplements
Although not technically required, horse supplements can also help ensure your horse gets a balanced diet. They can fill any nutritional gaps your steed’s diet isn’t covering and keep your horse stocked on key nutrients and minerals.
To help keep your performance or racehorse limber, it’s best to feed them a joint supplement. TRI-ACTA H.A. for equine is formulated to support active horses with a winning combination of glucosamine, chondroitin, MSM, and hyaluronic acid. These ingredients help keep your horse’s joints lubricated, help maintain cartilage, and help heal and develop ligaments and muscles surrounding the joints.
TRI-ACTA H.A. for Equine
Our maximum strength formula is perfect for horses that are ageing, experiencing arthritis and stiffness, are in training and competition, or under a heavy workload.
Proper Handling and Care
Proper horse management is essential to its performance. This involves providing a safe and clean environment, ensuring proper hygiene, and regular veterinary check-ups. It also means keeping the horse updated with vaccines and deworming, which can prevent disease and infection.
Be sure to provide other types of attention that will endear you to the horse, such as brushing, bathing, and grooming. Take advantage of these spaces to create stronger bonds with the animal, which can later help you to have a better training process.
Monitoring and Evaluation
It’s important to record the horse's performance, including its progress in training, results in competitions, and any changes in its physical condition. This helps identify improvement areas, adjust the training program, and feed accordingly.
The veterinarian will help you keep a more detailed follow-up with which you can track your horse’s health. That way, you can nip any potential problems in the bud and ensure your horse is progressing in terms of performance. You can also make any necessary adjustments to parts of your horse’s routine or diet that don’t seem to work for him.
How to Maintain Peak Performance Equine
Once you’ve got your horse in peak performance mode, it’s time to focus on maintaining that level of performance. Otherwise, he’ll return to where he started, undoing all the hard work you’ve put in!
Maintaining horse performance involves:
- Regular vet and dental check-ups
- Good hoof care
- Regular exercise
- Injury prevention routines
Some horses can maintain competitive performance for many years, while others may need a gradual transition to a less demanding life. You’ll want to adjust things based on your particular horse’s needs and routine.
Key Training Methods for Optimum Performance Equine
One of the most important parts of equine performance improvement is training. But, with so many different types of training regimes out there, which one do you use to get your performance equine in shape?
To help you figure that out, we’ve outlined some key training methods for optimum performance equine below. That way, you can pick and choose which training regimes will work best for your steed.
This type of training focuses on improving the horse's cardiovascular and muscular endurance. Long-duration, low-intensity exercises, such as trotting and distance cantering, are performed to develop the horse's aerobic capacity. Gradually, the intensity and duration of the exercises can be increased to improve endurance.
For disciplines that require speed, such as horse racing, this key is essential. High-intensity exercises such as fast gallops and short sprints are performed to help improve the horse's speed and acceleration. It is important to properly structure this type of training to avoid horse injury and excessive fatigue.
Balance and Coordination Training
This training method focuses on improving the horse's stability and balance, as well as its coordination in specific movements, through exercises such as direction changes, circles, and side steps. These types of movements help develop the horse's agility and balance, improving its responsiveness and attention.
Depending on the discipline you wish to perform, you'll need specific training to develop the necessary skills.
For example, if it’s show jumping you want to focus on, you must practice jumps and combinations of obstacles. You need to work on specific movements and precision exercises if it's dressage. Also, it’s important to work in conjunction with a trainer specializing in the discipline to develop an appropriate training program.
Mental and Emotional Training
This is one of the most important training methods and believe it or not, the mental and emotional aspect of the horse is equally important to your horse’s success as physical training! Desensitization techniques, gradual exposure to novel stimuli, and attention and concentration work can be used to help the horse manage stress and maintain proper concentration during competition.
The Masterson Method
This is a method (also called therapy) of equine massage that aims to use the horse's responses to contact to release accumulated tension in specific parts of the horse's body that may be restricting movement and limiting performance.
This method was developed by Jim Masterson, an equine bodywork therapist who uses a combination of gentle movements and pressure techniques applied with the hands to specific areas of the horse's body, such as muscles, joints, and connective tissues, allowing the horse to actively participate in its own process of release and relaxation, rather than being subjected to forced manipulations.
It’s important to mention that this method is a specialized technique that requires training and experience from the therapist to be applied safely and effectively.
Benefits of an Equine Performance Supplement
Equine performance supplements are products specially designed to provide additional nutrients that can benefit the health and performance of horses, it brings together all the components, such as macro and micro minerals. The table below outlines some of the main benefits of introducing supplements into your horse’s diet and goes over in more detail what those benefits do.
Joint health improving
The best equine supplements contain active ingredients such as glucosamine, chondroitin, and hyaluronic acid, which support joint and cartilage health. These supplements can help maintain flexibility and reduce the risk of joint injury in horses undergoing intense training or with degenerative joint conditions.
Products containing essential amino acids and proteins have the ability to help improve muscle development and speed recovery after strenuous exercise. These supplements can be beneficial for horses in intense training programs that require increased muscle development and endurance and prevent strains and tissue breakdown.
Improved endurance and energy
Supplements with ingredients such as B vitamins, iron, and electrolytes can improve the horse's energy production and endurance during exercise. Perfect for horses participating in endurance activities, such as long-distance races.
These supplements contain pre and probiotics, which help maintain a healthy gut and promote the absorption of key minerals. These are especially beneficial when paired with other supplements.
Immune system strengthening
Supplementation with minerals, vitamins, antioxidants, and other important components also greatly benefits the immune system's functioning, which prevents diseases and supports recovery after stressful situations such as races and heavy work. A strong immune system prevents any infection or disease from slowing down the training process.
Equine Performance Medicine & Treatments for Injuries
Although we’d love our steeds to stay healthy and happy at all times, sometimes, they might get injured. This is especially common if your horse is spending a lot of time training and exercising.
When a horse presents a performance problem or injury, performing a thorough evaluation is important. This may include a detailed physical examination, medical and performance history evaluation, and diagnostic tests such as radiographs, ultrasounds, MRIs, and blood tests, among others.
Injuries and performance problems can often be treated with simple at-home remedies or mild therapies. The goal is to reduce pain, promote healing and restore normal function. Some standard treatments may include:
- Physical therapy and rehabilitation
- Drug therapy
- Dietary changes
- Nutritional supplements
- Equine chiropractic
Depending on the severity of the injury or illness, surgery may be necessary to alleviate fractures, severe injuries to ligaments, joints, tendons, and other disorders of the body's systems.
You can also introduce a joint supplement like TRI-ACTA H.A. to help prevent injuries in the first place. These types of supplements help reduce wear and tear on the joints, tendons, ligaments, and connective tissue due to running, galloping, and jumping.
Using supplements helps to eliminate inflammation and accelerate the healing process, increase synovial fluid viscosity, accelerate cartilage formation, increase the protective response of joint tissue, and improve mobility.
Achieving peak performance with your equine requires discipline, hard work, and a great diet. Then, you’ll have a beautiful, happy steed that gallops swiftly around the race track without getting tired.
You can also further support your horse’s performance level by introducing supplements into his diet. Joint supplements like TRI-ACTA H.A. are ideal for helping maintain your horse’s performance and support well-rounded nutrition that leads to a peak performance equine.
Check out our FAQ or get in touch with us to learn more about TRI-ACTA H.A. for equine and how it can help your steed on the track, in the ring, and in its daily routine.
TRI-ACTA H.A. for Equine
Our maximum strength formula is perfect for horses that are ageing, experiencing arthritis and stiffness, are in training and competition, or under a heavy workload.
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Proactive & Therapeutic Joint Supplements
When given daily, Integricare joint supplements recover bone and joint injuries faster and help prevent mobility injuries from happening in the first place.