Rachel O'Sullivan MSc
Feeding for energy
There may come a time when you feel as though your horse could do with some more energy. Before heading to the feedstore to pick up a bag of ‘high energy horse feed’ it is important to think about what type of energy your horse requires.Does he need more instant energy, more stamina, or both! Depending on the type of energy your horse requires will help you to decide on which feed will be most suitable.
Feeding for instant energy
When feeding for instant energy it is important to increase the starch levels of the diet. Starch is provided by cereals in the hard feed, such as oats, barley and maize. Enzymes in the small intestine quickly break down starch into glucose. This glucose is quickly absorbed into the bloodstream and can be used a ‘fast-release’ or ‘instant’ energy. Any blood glucosethat is not immediately used for work is stored in the muscles as glycogen for later use. Starch is also the best energy source for ‘topping up’ muscle glycogen stores after exercise periods as starch digestion results in a direct rise in blood glucose and insulin, two of the most important factors involved in glycogen synthesis.
To provide more instant energy find out the starch content of your current feed and swap to a feed with a higher level. The ingredients on the label are listed in order of inclusion so if oats, barley or maize are the first few ingredients you see this will be a feed that will provide you with instant energy. Competition-Fit Mix from the Saracen range is the feed most commonly recommended for horses requiring additional instant energy.
Feeding for stamina
When feeding to improve stamina levels look for ingredients that supply slow release energy, such as high levels of fibre and oil. Fibre is broken down via fermentation in the hindgut of the horse by microflora.As the microflora break down the fibre they produce volatile fatty acids (VFAs) which areabsorbed into the bloodstream. They can then either be used immediately to provide slow-releaseenergy for the work being done or transported to the liver to be converted to glycogen which is thenstored in the muscles and liver for energy use at a later stage. This is a slow process that createsslow-release energy, for controlled energy and improved stamina levels. All fibre your horse eats isbroken down in this manner showing the importance of feeding high levels of forage, such as grass,hay and haylage.
For your hard feed look at the ingredients list on the label for a high inclusion of soya hulls, alfalfa (lucerne) and beet pulp. These ingredients are known as ‘Super-fibres’; highly digestible fibre sourcesthat provide as much energy as cereal grains but from a slow release energy source. This also makes this type of diet ideal for horses that can be prone to excitable or fizzy behaviours when fed moretraditional, cereal based high energy feeds. Feeds from the Saracen range that contain high levels of super fibres include Super Fibre Cubes, Re-Leve® and Enduro-Performance.
REMEMBER ENERGY = CALORIES
If your horse is a good-doer feeding a high energy fed is likely to lead to weight gain, which will not help with energy levels! If this is the case we will often suggest feeding a balancer, such as Competition-Fit Balancer or Shape-Up™, to provide the nutrients needed for good health and wellbeing. In some cases, you can then add a small quantity of a higher energy feed to the dietwithout increasing the risk of weight gain. If you are looking at providing your good-doer with more energy do contact qualified nutrition advisor on how best to do this with encouraging weight gain!
FOR SPECIFIC FEEDING ADVICE FOR YOUR HORSE OR PONY PLEASE VISITWWW.SARACENHORSEFEEDS.COM AND COMPLETE OUR SIMPLE AND FREE FEED ADVICE FORM.
ALTERNATIVELY, IF YOU WOULD PREFER TO SPEAK TO ONE OF OUR QUALIFIED NUTRITIONISTS FOR SOMEIMMEDIATE ADVICE, PLEASE CALL OUR FEED ADVICE LINE ON 01622 718 487