No one is going to complain when the sun is shining and we’re out competing — but it’s more important than ever to make sure that our horses are kept hydrated when the temperatures soar.
Dengie senior nutritionist Katie Williams gives some top tips to keep your horse healthy and hydrated after competition.
5 ways to keep your horse hydrated
1. Intense activity during competition or training will cause your horse to sweat and lose electrolytes. For effective rehydration, both water and electrolytes are needed. Adding an electrolyte supplements to your horse’s water is one way to achieve this, but if they refuse to drink the solution then you may have to try an alternative method.
2. Alternatively make feed wet and slushy if this is the only way your horse will consume the electrolytes. Adding soaked sugar beet is an easy way to do this and has the added benefit of supplying highly digestible fibre.
3. Fibre and oil are great ways to provide slow-release energy – and the oil helps to promote improved stamina, which is particularly useful for horses competing in endurance competitions or if horses are doing several classes in a day. Feeds that combine alfalfa and oil can have a calorie or energy value equivalent to a conditioning mix, but without the same level of starch.
4. Fibre and oil feeds are ideal for maintaining or promoting weight gain in horses that can be over-excitable or prone to ERS (also known as tying-up). Adding a balancer or supplement designed for horses in hard work and feeding it at recommended rates will ensure essential nutrients are supplied at correct levels.
5. After competition, horses can remain very excited for a while and might be distracted from eating. It is important to try to tempt them to eat to promote good recovery. If the horse is having a rest the day after a competition, the emphasis should be on good levels of high-quality fibre sources (hay, haylage, alfalfa or sugar beet with oil) that will supply energy without significantly increasing the risk of digestive upsets. Essential vitamins and minerals are also vital to aid repair to tissues.