LIZZIE DRURY MSc RNutr
We all know that the Thoroughbred is often thought of as a tricky character, but, like all breeds, they are individuals and may react differently compared to their peers to any new management and feeding regime. It is therefore important that you try and obtain as much information about his feeding and exercise programmes before he arrives with you, to help you understand his character and to make the changes as gradual as possible.
The diet of a racehorse is much lower in forage than leisure and competition horses, and they may not have been turned out to grass for many months. On arrival at your yard, you will no doubt be introducing your new horse to routine turnout, which will not only mentally start to relax him, but will also gradually increase his forage ration. It is also advisable to provide your new horse with ad-lib hay, but you may find that to start with he does not eat everything you offer him. Thoroughbreds can be fussy feeders and he may take a few days or weeks to get used to his new diet, so be patient.
It is also advisable to have your dentist or vet check his teeth shortly after arrival. This will not just help with bitting choices later on but will also ensure he is able to fully chew and break down his feed and forage, aiding digestion and helping you to see an improvement in his condition a little more quickly.
ENERGY & BODY CONDITION SCORING
Condition scoring is a method of assessing your horse's body fat coverage and should form part of your routine management plan. With practice, condition scoring is an accurate way of ensuring that your ex-racehorse does not gain or lose too much body condition and shows results far more quickly than by the eye alone. This enables you to make any dietary adjustments before a problem has occurred. We recommend that condition scoring is carried out on a fortnightly basis in conjunction with weight taping.
Which Saracen Feed For Weight maintenance?
The main error that many owners make when feeding a horse fresh out of training is to place them on a horse and pony mix or cube simply because it is low in energy. Many ‘simple’ horse and pony mixes are based on a cereal formulation, which can cause a thoroughbred to ‘hot up’. There is also the misconception that too much protein ‘heats up’ a horse - protein is used for cell renewal, tissue and muscle repair and it is important that optimum levels of quality protein are included in the ration.
What is important is where energy is being sourced. All of the Saracen feeds that we recommend for the ex-racehorse use ‘non–heating’ highly digestible “Super-fibres” and oil as the main sources of energy, removing the need for high levels of cereal. Each feed can be fed alongside our comprehensive range of chaffs as well as sugar beet, if you so wish.
Super Fibre Cubes are a good starting ration for any ex-racehorse and are a great way to start increasing the fibre content of the diet. The cubes have a low-starch and sugar content and are cereal free, helping to maintain an even temperament, as well as supporting good digestive health. Soya oil is used within the pencil to support skin and coat condition. They are the ideal feed to start your ex-racehorse on where simplicity is required.
Re-Leve® is a high-fibre, low-starch, cereal-free ration. Highly digestible ‘Super-fibres’, soya hulls, alfalfa pellets, beet pulp and oil supply the energy, reducing the reliance on starch. Some ex-racehorses can have excitable tendencies and feeding low starch feeds can help maintain an even, trainable temperament. RE-LEVE® is fully fortified with a concentrated source of proteins, trace elements as well as a yeast to support optimal fibre digestion and elevated levels of important anti-oxidants Vitamin E and selenium to support normal muscle function.
Conditioning Cubes are a low starch ration to formulated to support optimum muscle and topline development, and the barley-free formulation helps to maintain a steady temperament, ideal for ex-racehorses. The cubes also contain EQUI-JEWEL®, a high fat stabilized rice bran, which has been blended into the ration to increase the calorie content and to provide a source of essential fatty acids to support healthy skin and coat shine. This is a non-heating formulation for all over body condition and optimal muscle tone.
Enduro-Performance provides long-lasting energy for horses that require excellent stamina levels. Many ex-racehorses go on to do a variety of different careers and may need a feed to provide a higher level of energy to support this work. Enduro-100 contains an inclusion of oats for a higher energy requirement, but the emphasis remains on highly digestible “Super-fibre” ingredients such as soya hulls and beet pulp and oil, which releases energy slowly supporting controlled performance. A yeast is also included to support optimum calcium absorption and fibre digestion, along with important antioxidants to support muscle recovery post exercise.
To ensure your horse receives adequate amounts of essential vitamins and minerals the above feeds must be fed at the recommended daily intakes. If you are unsure or the correct amount don’t hesitate to ask the Saracen Nutritional Team.
Daily Feeding rates (based on 500kg TB in light work and ad-lib forage)
Super Fibre Cubes 2-2.5kg/day
Conditioning Cubes 2.0kg/day
Remember to weigh your feed scoops to know exactly how much you are feeding.
Which Saracen Feed for weight gain?
When a horse’s workload increases and energy demands are raised, or your ex-racehorse requires more calories to support optimum body condition, the above feeds can be topped up with EQUI-JEWEL®. This can be added to the ration and can be fed up to 1kg per day (2 - 4 Equi-Jewel® measuring cups).
Equi-Jewel® is pelleted, high-oil, stabilised rice-bran supplement designed to increase the calorie density of any ration. EQUI-JEWEL® is an ideal product to support topline and muscle development, no matter what discipline your ex-racehorse is now competing in.
The essential fatty acids contained in EQUI-JEWEL® support coat and skin condition and horses receiving EQUI-JEWEL® will quickly exhibit stunning coat gloss and bloom. Research carried out by KER has also proven its superiority in optimising performance when substituted for vegetable oils. Horses had lower heart rates and subsequent shorter recovery periods after strenuous activity.
EQUI-JEWEL® is fortified with the correct level of Vitamin E and ensures optimum calcium to phosphorus ratio.
Which Saracen Feed for a Good-Doer?
If your ex-racehorse is carrying too much condition, or your pasture is rich, you may wish to reduce the daily intake of concentrate feed, in which case you will need to ‘top-up’ your horse’s ration with essential nutrients (particularly minerals) with a feed balancer.
Essential Balancer is a low-sugar, low-starch balancer that can be fed alongside compound feeds being fed below the manufacturer's recommended levels, or to balance forage only diets.
Dense in vitamins, minerals and quality protein sources, Essential Balancer helps to maintain muscle tone and topline as well as supporting optimum health and vitality. A source of Omega 3 fatty acids helps to condition and shine the coat, creating a picture of health inside and out. A blend of yeast cultures is also included to support a healthy digestive tract and optimise digestion and energy extraction from the fibre sources in the ration.
If you wish to cut out a mix or cubes all together in the summer when the grass is good and extra calories are not required, Essential Balancer can be fed on its own together with good quality forage at a feeding rate of 100 grams per 100kg bodyweight per day.
Feeding an ex-racehorse with gastic ulcers
Due to the low forage intake during training, many racehorses may suffer from gastric ulcers at some stage of their career. Any form of stress, such as moving yards can upset the normal gastric balance. Signs can include mild colic, poor performance, bad behaviour, reluctance to be girthed and crib biting. If you feel that your new horse may be suffering from ulcers, it is advisable to contact your vet.
Saracen Horse Feeds are the sole UK distributor for a product developed by Kentucky Equine Research (KER) to support the digestive tract during these times of stress and help to maintain a normal gastric environment. Formulated by the Scientists at KER, KERx RiteTrac™ is a proprietary blend of ingredients with fast acting antacids, buffers and coating agents to help optimise pH in the stomach, as well as the inclusion of a hind gut buffer to aid digestion
RiteTrac™ contains ingredients that quickly and effectively protect the sensitive stomach lining, preventing the damage caused by the continuous production of gastric acid. The antacids contained in RiteTrac™ rapidly neutralize the acid secreted in the stomach, providing a more pH-neutral environment between meals.
Available as a powder in 3kg and 6kg tubs, RiteTrac™ can be simply added to feed at a rate of 120g/day – 60g in the morning and 60g in the evening. It is available to purchase via our online shop
A SUMMARY OF GOOD FEEDING PRACTICE FOR THE EX RACEHORSE
- Make all changes to their diet as gradually as possible
- Remember, forage is the most important element of an ex-racehorses ration
- Watch for signs of stress or ulcers, and treat as found
- Feed llittle and often splitting feeds into 2 or 3 meals daily
- Offer a variety of fibre sources to your ex racehorse if they are poor feeders to stimulate their appetite
- Do not mistake protein for the cause of a excitable behaviour
- If extra energy is required on top of your main ration, or your horse requires substantial help to support body condition or topline, consider adding EQUI-JEWEL® to the ration, starting at 0.5kg/1lb (2 CUPS) per day.
Need some guidance?
For a detailed, personalised feeding plan for your ex-racehorse, please complete our simple and free Feed Advice form and we will compile a detailed ration using our tailor made ration formulation software. Alternatively, if you would prefer to speak to one of our qualified nutritionists for some immediate advice, please call our feed advice line on 01622 718 487