Answer : Many horses struggle to maintain condition when competing regularly, especially excitable types who tend to burn off more energy than those with more relaxed temperaments.
The first step to help your dressage horse maintain weight and condition this winter is to make sure that he has free access to high quality forage. During the winter months the nutritional value of the grazing will be limited. However, a few hours of turn-out every day can help to relax a highly strung horse. When it comes to conserved forage (i.e. hay or haylage) you should choose the very best quality available. Early-cut seed hay or a ryegrass haylage are ideal for horses that tend to be poor-doers and will help to reduce the need for concentrate feed.
Forage alone is unlikely to meet your horse’s calorie requirements and it certainly won’t provide him with optimal amounts of quality protein, which is necessary for muscle development. A forage only diet will also be lacking in essential vitamins or minerals so your horse will need a suitable hard-feed. However, many conditioning feeds contain starch-rich cereals such as barley, wheat or maize, which may exacerbate your horse’s excitable nature. Instead your horse will benefit from a conditioning feed that provides calories from ‘slow-releasing’, ‘Non-Heating’ energy sources, such as Equerry Conditioning Mash.
Equerry Conditioning Mash is specially formulated to promote weight gain and condition. It provides a high level of calories (12.5MJ/kg) from ‘Non-Heating’ digestible fibres, including sugar-beet, and oil (5.25%). Oil is not only very calorie dense it also has the added benefit of helping to promote a glossy, shiny coat. Equerry Conditioning Mash contains just 12% starch, less than half the amount of most conditioning mixes, and so will help your horse to remain relaxed and calm.
Equerry Conditioning Mash also provided good levels of essential amino acids, the building blocks of protein, required for muscle development and topline. It also contains very high levels of yeast which help to promote beneficial fibre-fermenting bacteria in the hind-gut, thereby boosting digestive efficiency. Finally, Equerry Conditioning Mash is fully balanced with all the essential vitamins and minerals your horse needs including; vitamin E, B-vitamins, calcium, phosphorus, zinc, selenium and magnesium. As well as being vital for your horse’s overall health some of these vitamins and minerals are also thought to play a role in minimising fizzy behaviour.
Assuming your horse weighs 650kg he will need 3.25-3.75kg/day Equerry Conditioning Mash. In order to maximise digestive efficiency and avoid overloading the stomach this quantity should be split into at least 2 feeds. Equerry Conditioning Mash should be soaked for 5-10 minutes prior to feeding with equal parts or more water to cubes. Plus as a special treat during the cold winter months Equerry Conditioning Mash can even be fed warm by making it with warm, but not hot, water!
For more information on feeding for condition contact the Equerry Nutrition Team on 01845 565640.