Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Feeding Horses for Optimal Recovery After Exercise - Full Article

By Drs. Peter Huntington and Kathleen Crandell · December 4, 2015

Feeding for recovery after exercise is vital when horses compete in multiday events, especially those that encompass an endurance phase. Such competitions include three-day eventing, combined driving, endurance, and show-jumping events.

Nutritionists have identified three key considerations when feeding for recovery: rehydration, replenishment of muscle glycogen stores, and muscle repair and recovery.

Rehydration. Horses lose both water and electrolytes when they sweat during and after exercise. This needs to be replaced after exercise to avoid the negative consequences of dehydration on recovery. Though it is hard to estimate the amount of sweat lost in an exercise bout, pre- and post-exercise weight can provide a guide.

Plasma sodium levels drive thirst, so supplementation of sodium with other electrolytes is an important strategy at this time. If electrolytes are given in a paste or a stomach tube, the reliance on feed consumption is removed. Irritation of gastric ulcers can occur from electrolyte boluses or concentrated saline drenches. Kentucky Equine Research (KER) developed Restore Paste (available in the U.S. and Australia), an electrolyte supplement that contains gastric antacids and coating agents to minimize the gastric irritation.

Water replacement is vital and water should be offered after exercise. The taste of water often varies, and the horse may be reluctant to drink away from home even if thirsty. Mixing molasses with water can encourage consumption, or Drink-Up, a product developed by KER and available in Australia, can be added to water to encourage the horse to empty the water bucket. When horses eat hay, they will usually drink afterwards, so feeding hay after exercise is one way to boost thirst...

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