In order to show their full potential breeze up horses need to be everything a racehorse has to be – fit, in good physical condition, healthy and sound, and all at a young age! Getting the correct diet of high quality protein, optimal levels of energy and the correct balance of vitamins and minerals, especially in the early days of training, can be hugely beneficial.
Firstly, feeding good quality forage and ideally offering it on a ‘free-choice’ basis will help to regulate stomach acidity, promote digestive health and provide mental stimulation. Forage provides an important source of ‘slow release’ energy and can have a big impact on a horse’s ability to maintain weight and condition when in training.
One of the biggest challenges with feeding breeze up horses is to balance energy levels with temperament, whilst also ensuring that the horses is getting sufficient calories for the work they are doing. Traditional racing feeds such as Connolly’s RED MILLS Racehorse Cubes and Horse Cooked Mix are both wholegrain based diets that include oats, barley, and maize. Cereals are digested relatively quickly in the small intestine providing what is commonly known as ‘fast release energy’, which is ideal for most horses in training.
For horses that are excitable, highly strung, easily stressed or those prone to muscle disorders such as tying up or digestive issues you should look towards a low starch feed such as those in our Horse Care range. All the feeds in our Horse Care Range are formulated to be low in starch and provide energy from ‘slow release’ energy sources such as super fibres and oil. In addition, all our Care feeds contain our unique RED MILLS Nutrition Care package to help support both muscle function and digestive health. Read more about our Care Package here
- A natural, long-lasting gastric acid buffer to help maintain stomach health
- Yeast and two prebiotics to help support digestive health.
- Added vitamin C to aid immune and respiratory function
- Elevated levels of biotin for hoof health
It is essential that young horses in training build a well-developed topline and healthy muscle tone as this will not only have a positive impact on performance, but also on future soundness. To support muscle development and repair of muscle tissue following exercise a diet that provides high-quality protein is essential. At Connolly’s RED MILLS we use Soya Bean Meal as the main source of protein in all our feed. Soya Bean Meal is an excellent source of high quality protein and contains all the essential amino acids a horse needs, such as lysine, threonine, and methionine. For weaker individuals needing a little extra help with their topline, the addition of a pre-digested protein supplement such as Foran Equine Muscle Prep can also be immensely useful.
The increase in exercise during training can often results in muscle stiffness and soreness and muscle related conditions such as tying up can also occur. In these situations, it can be helpful to provide additional antioxidant supplementation, as antioxidants such as Vitamin E and selenium can help to assist in muscle recovery by mopping up excess free radicals. Foran Equine Muscle Max combines the powerful antioxidants vitamin E and selenium, as well as lysine and B-vitamins, to help reduce cellular damage and support the recovery of stiff, sore or tired muscles. It is also important to consider electrolyte replenishment after the horse has sweated heavily, as failure to do so can have a negative effect on muscle function and slow recovery. We recommend using Foran Equine Equi-Lyte G, which is a balanced electrolyte supplement containing added vitamin E and C to help support muscle recovery. Finally, for horses prone to, or suffering from, tying up a low starch feed such as Connolly’s RED MILLS Horse Care Range will be required.
Strong, healthy bones are the foundation for racehorse soundness and skeletal injuries are a huge cause for concern. Strong, healthy bones cannot develop without a suitable training as exercise plays an essential role in developing and maintaining bone density. However, doing too much, too soon can be damaging and result in issues including buck/ sore shins and bone chips (Link to racehorse bone health article).
Bone is continuously being strengthened, repaired, and replaced. Therefore, if we can aid this process with good nutrition, we can help to decrease the likelihood of skeletal injury. The essential nutrients needed for bone health are protein, minerals such as calcium, phosphorus, zinc and copper, and vitamins A, D and K. All Connolly’s RED MILLS feeds have been specifically formulated to help support bone health by providing high quality protein and our unique Pro Balance Vitamin and Mineral package.
The skeleton is at increased risk of injuries such as sore shins during the initial stage of training. Thus, young horses can often benefit from additional nutritional support targeted at maintaining improving bone health during early training. In these situations, we recommend adding Foran Equine Osteo-Glycan to the ration. This is a superior powdered supplement containing highly available calcium and marine collagen, of which both aid the bone remodelling process and help to maintain bone health. Chelated copper and zinc, as well as vitamins A and D, are also included to support bone mineralisation. Finally, Foran Equine Osteo-Glycan also includes clinoptilolite, an organic silica, as research has shown that this may positively affect bone density.
As young racehorses commence training all their key body functions are tested daily, particularly their immune system and mild respiratory illnesses are unfortunately relatively common. Feeding a well-balanced diet will help build a healthy immune system. However, for horses that are struggling, boosting their omega 3 fatty acid and antioxidant intake can really help to support their immune system and help to reduce the risk of, or support recovery from, respiratory illness.
Where respiratory health is a concern, we recommend feeding Foran Equine Airvent. This highly palatable syrup is rich in the antioxidant vitamin C and essential oils for optimal air flow. This will help to soothe the airways and aid respiratory health. We also recommend feeding Foran Equine Kentucky Karron Oil. This emulsified flaxseed oil is an excellent source of the essential Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids. Omega 3 fatty acids help repair cellular walls and acts as potent anti-inflammatory, whilst omega-6 fatty acids help the immune system fight infections.
Appetite can be affected by issues such as Equine Gastric Ulcers Syndrome (EGUS) or bad teeth and these issues will obviously require veterinary intervention. However, a young, healthy horse’s appetite can also be reduced temporarily as they adjust to life a busy yard and increased levels of exercise.
B–Vitamin supplementation can help with appetite stimulation and we recommend feeding Foran Equine B-Complete. This comprehensive B-Vitamin supplement, with added prebiotic, helps to support and stimulate appetite and aids energy metabolism. Its unique formulation also helps to improve the palatability of any feed, thereby helping to increase feed intake.
Another option for horses who tend to be fussy eaters is to top–dress their feed with a balancer such as Connolly’s RED MILLS PerformaCare Balancer. PerformaCare Balancer provides a concentrated source of nutrients so it is an easy way of increasing protein, vitamins and minerals intake, without increasing the overall volume of the feed. Adding some Foran Equine Kentucky Karron Oil to the feed is also an excellent way of increasing calories intake, whilst keeping meal size small.
Breeze up horses can face considerable physiological demands on their key body systems. Feeding them an optimal diet with the right balance of protein, energy and micronutrients is essential. Equally, targeted nutritional intervention, for specific issues can be immensely beneficial.