Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Feeding During an Endurance Ride - Full Article

By Dr. Peter Huntington and Scott O'Brien · June 4, 2012

The actual amount and type of feed your horse should get through the ride will depend on the length and difficulty of the ride as well as the result you hope to achieve. With shorter ride lengths (20 to 40 km or 12 to 25 miles) and speed restrictions on all riders, it is all about completing and training or educating your horse.

As long as your horse is fit enough and you have a good feeding program at home, you shouldn’t need much more than hay and electrolytes to get you through these rides. If you arrive the night before the ride, give your horse his dinner and some hay to see him through the night. If he’s a poor drinker you might include some electrolytes in this final meal (as long as he’ll eat his feed with the electrolytes added; otherwise give them in a syringe mixed with water, applesauce, or yogurt).
In the morning, just make sure he has a little hay and fresh water before tacking up and riding off.

After the first leg in a split-leg ride, give some more hay or green forage and perhaps some electrolytes. Electrolytes are recommended if it is a hot day or if your horse has not yet had a drink in the first leg. The amount you give will depend on the temperature, how much your horse has drunk, and how much he has sweated.

If, by the end of the final leg, your horse has still not had a good drink, find a vet and discuss the use of any further electrolyte supplementation. Giving electrolytes to a significantly dehydrated horse can cause metabolic problems and should only be done under veterinary supervision.

Once the ride is finished and you have been through vetting, you can give the horse his normal breakfast. Over the next 24 hours you will need to feed a little more than the normal daily allowance to replenish energy reserves lost during the ride. Feed small meals (up to around 2 kg or 4.4 lb per meal) rather than large meals and space them out by about 4 to 6 hours. Further electrolyte supplementation is also useful for rehydrating the horse in preparation for the trip home.

The longer one-day rides of 80 km to 160 km (50 to 100 miles) can be quite competitive, and depending on how you want to ride them, your feeding management will be different...

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