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Ensure your horse has the right fuel

Fuelling the world’s fastest man before his performance has similar principles to fuelling your horse for its big day. Having the correct nutrition before and after event time is fundamental to giving you and your horse the best chance come performance time. Having an understanding of your horses’ responses to different feeds may be the difference between placing on the podium or stumbling at the final hurdle.  It is therefore crucial to avoid putting the cart before the horse and designing a diet to best meet the horse’s exercise needs they will be faced with come competition time.

Eating highly glycemic carbohydrates is ideal for fueling horses’ muscles working in vigorous bursts, whereas longer term energy requiring endurance is best derived from low glycemic carbohydrates as these enter the blood stream more slowly. Studies have shown that horses are healthiest when fed diets digested and absorbed slowly. This is because their digestive systems are set up to handle small frequent deliveries of forage throughout each day, as if the horses were grazing 1.

Carbohydrates that breakdown quickly during digestion have the highest glycemic indices, whereas carbohydrates that breakdown slowly, releasing glucose gradually into the bloodstream, have lower glycemic indices. The Glycemic index system (shown below) is used to rank carbohydrates based on their effect on blood glucose levels.  Feed with a value over 100 on the Glycemic index produces more blood glucose in a given amount of time than oats, those with a value under 100 produces less 2.

Fibre is another energy source often overlooked in horse nutrition. Horses have a highly developed hindgut with billions of bacteria and protozoa capable of fermenting large quantities of fibre. The end products of fibre fermentation can be used as energy sources throughout the day because fermentation continues long after a meal has been eaten 3.

Furthermore, it’s crucial to replenish electrolytes, minerals and vitamins lost during strenuous exercise and performance in order to ease your horse’s recovery, get them back into training and prepare them for the next performance.

All horses are unique and as similar to our own daily intakes they too can respond differently to different feeds.

Finding the right fuel to balance between explosive output and sustained energy can be difficult to gauge and may be a work in progress between horse and rider. Take notice straight from the horse’s mouth to find out what works for you and your horse.

Aons’ Horse insurance is a comprehensive and affordable policy designed to cover the key risks involved with owning and riding a horse, for example; loss of use or death, vet expenses, rider accident and horse-related equipment. Call our Equine experts on 1800 806 493 or visit for more information on our tailored solutions and facilities.


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