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 to their peers to any new management and feeding regime.
The traditional 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. It is advisable to provide your ex racehorse with ad-lib hay, but you may find that they don't eat everything you offer. Thoroughbreds can be fussy feeders and they can often take a few days or weeks to get used to a new ration, so be patient, and contact an experienced equine nutritionist for some guidance if required. You can call our Feed Advice line on 01622 718 487 for sme immediate nutritional advice.
Forage can be offered within the daily ration in a variety of forms to tempt an ex racehorse's appetite. Short-chop chaffs such as Saracen Molassed Chaff is ideal and can be mixed with soaked sugar beet to increase fibre intakes should your ex-racehorse not be a great long-stem forage eater. We always advise ex racehorse owners to have regular dental checks as this will not just help with bitting choices later on, but will also aid digestion and help you to maintain optimum body condition.
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 horse 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 actually occurred. We recommend that condition scoring be carried out on a fortnightly basis in conjunction with weight taping.
What do i feed to put weight on my ex-racehorse?
The main error which many riders can make when feeding an ex racehorse 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 encourage excitability. There is also the misconception that too much protein can cause excitability in horses. This is incorrect. 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 to support muscle tone and development.
What is important is where the energy is being sourced from. The products we largely recommend to ex-racehorses use “non–heating” highly digestible “Super-fibres” and oil as the main sources of energy, removing the need for high levels of cereals to be included within the ration. We always recommend our feeds are fed alongside a short-chop chaff to reduce the risk of feed bolting and to slow the rate of passage through the horse's digestive tract. Sugar beet can also be added if you wish..
Saracen RE-LEVE® is a high-fibre, cereal-free ration with a very-low starch content. Highly digestible “Super-fibres”, soya hulls, alfalfa pellets, beet pulp and oil supply the energy, reducing the reliance on starch. RE-LEVE® is fortified with Saracen’s feed balancer Stamm 30®, a concentrated source of proteins, trace elements and yeast, as well as Vitamin E and selenium to assist normal muscle function. The inclusion of a yeast culture that is specifically designed for the equine ensures optimal microbial activity, to support optimum fibre digestion.
We recommend that 0.5–1 kg of EQUI-JEWEL® (rice-bran) is fed daily alongside RE-LEVE® to boost calorie intake, if required. This palatable supplement is naturally high in oil and fibre, but low in starch, so it is a very compatible product.
Saracen Conditioning Cubes are a low-starch ration designed to support optimum muscle and topline development. They are based on highly digestible "Super-fibres" and are completely barley-free. The ration boasts an optimum inclusion of EQUI-JEWEL®, a high-fat stabilized rice bran to increase the calorie content and to provide a source of essential fatty acids to support skin and coat condition. This is a non-heating formulation for optimum body condition, topline and muscle development.
Increased energy demands
EQUI-JEWEL® is a pelleted, high-oil, stabilised rice-bran designed to increase the calorie density of a ration. It'ss an ideal product to support topline and muscle development, whether competing in dressage, eventing or showing. Research carried out by Kentucky Equine Research (KER) has also proven its superiority in optimising performance when substituted for vegetable oil. Horses displayed lower heart rates and subsequent shorter recovery periods after strenuous activity when supplemented with EQUI-JEWEL®.
EQUI-JEWEL® is fortified with the correct level of Vitamin E, a powerful antioxidant, to combat the free radicals produced in the horses body when fed high oil levels. EQUI-JEWEL® can be added to the horses existing ration to boost the calorie density without having to increase the meal size considerably. It should be fed up to 1kg/2lbs per day and a dedicated measuring cup is available. Ask your local stockist or email us at
Click on the image below to see the results of using EQUI-JEWEL® after only 6 weeks!
Which Saracen feed to maintain my horse's body condition or to increase his fibre intake?
Saracen Super Fibre Cubes are a great ration for ex-racehorses to maintain their body condition. They are cereal-free and therefore have a very low starch level providing a 'non-heating' formulation. Soya oil is used within this high-fibre cube to support optimum skin and coat condition and to provide a source of slow-release energy.
These high fibre cubes are extremely useful as ex racehorses can be known to struggle to consume enough long-stem forage in which case other fibre sources may need to be offered to stimulate their natural browsing behaviour and increase intakes. Saracen Super Fibre Cubes are a great way to increase a fussy thoroughbred's fibre intake. We recommend a caffeteria style for these horses where multiple fibre sources are offered to mimic their natural browsing behaviour.
What if your ex-racehorse is a 'good-doer'?
There is a perception that ex-racehorses are often hard to keep weight on, but we often hear of ex-racehorses that are carrying too much condition. It is common knowledge that all horses should receive a balanced ration and if a horse is unable to consumer the recommended daily intake of a compound mix or cube, then a feed balancer should be used to "top up" the nutrients in the ration.
Saracen Essential Balancer is a low-sugar, low-starch high quality feed balancer to be fed alongside compound feeds being fed below the manufacturer's recommended levels, or to balance a forage only ration.
Dense in vitamins, minerals and quality protein sources, Saracen Essential Balancer helps to support optimum muscle tone and topline. A source of Omega 3 fatty acids helps to condition and shine the coat whilst a blend of yeast cultures supports a healthy digestive tract, optimizes digestion and energy extraction from the fibre sources in the ration.
If you wish to cut out your mix or cubes all together in the summer when the grass is good and extra calories are not required, Saracen Essential Balancer can be fed on its own together with good quality forage at a feeding rate of 100grams per 100kg bodyweight per day.
Click on the image below to read a case study on Rain, an ex racehorse currently competing at BE 90 who is maintained on Essential Balancer
DAILY FEEDING RATES (BASED ON 500KG TB, IN LIGHT WORK AND AD-LIB FORAGE)
|Product||Minimum Feeding Rate / day Kg|
|Super Fibre Cubes||2.0|
If you are would prefer to discuss your ex racehorse's individual needs, or are still unsure what or how much to feed, please don’t hesitate to contact us for a detailed feeding plan 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
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 and the risk of ulceration increases.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 KER to support the digestive tract during times of stress and 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 support digestion.
KERx RiteTrac™ contains ingredients that quickly and effectively support the sensitive stomach lining, reducing the risk of damage caused by the continuous production of gastric acid. The antacids neutralize the acid secreted in the stomach, providing a more pH-neutral environment between meals. Available in 3kg and 6kg tubs, KERx RiteTrac™ can be simply added to feed at a rate of 120g/day – 60g in the morning and 60g in the evening and the product is available to purchase via our online shop here with free delivery.
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