A successful sales prep will see your yearling arrive the sales complex bright-eyed, with a healthy coat, and in good body condition with a well-defined topline. While most yearlings sail through the necessary preparations, others fail to hold condition, struggle with the added pressures of exercise, or suffer with coughs and colds when stabled in close confinement with other horses. Nutrition is just one cog in the wheel of getting your yearling successfully to the sales. Ensuring key dietary requirements are met will be key to your horse looking and feeling it’s best when it walks into the ring.
Choosing a suitable feed
While some consignors chose to use a multi-purpose stud feed for sales preparation, many others opt for a feed specially designed for the task at hand. Connolly’s Red Mills Prep Mix has been specifically formulated to provide a source of high-quality protein and essential amino acids to meet the requirements of developing horses that are adapting to exercise for the first time. This feed is high in calories and contains added oils to support extra condition and coat shine. Elevated levels of micronutrients are also included to support immune function, bone & joint health, and post -exercise muscle recovery.
Stress levels are evidently high in many horses coming in for sales prep and being stabled individually for the first time. Careful management during this period will reduce the chances of injuries to the yearling and to those caring for them. While many yearlings will quickly settle into a routine, others may begin to lose condition, become more difficult to handle, and be more prone to ulcers, soft droppings and digestive upsets as feed rates increase with workload. Horse Care 14 Cubes & Mix are high in calories but lower in fast-release energy sources which may help to keep your horse more level-headed while also providing beneficial additives such as prebiotics, probiotics and a gastric acid buffer for digestive health, along with antioxidants to support immune function and high levels of biotin, chelated copper and zinc for optimal hoof and coat condition. Horse Care Ultra Cubes also include the forementioned extras in an ultra-low starch format for horses with known digestive issues or those with hot temperaments that are becoming hotter as feed rates increase.
For horses lacking topline
Achieving a healthy and well-developed topline and muscle tone in young horses will not only have a positive impact in the sales ring, but also on a horse’s future soundness and athletic ability. Research has shown that low-intensity exercise during the early years of a Thoroughbred yearling’s life induces muscle adaptations which can positively influence athletic performance in later life.
Exercise and nutrition work hand-in-hand to achieve a well-defined topline and ensure your yearling is sales-ring ready. Exercise will activate muscle conditioning, while a balanced diet containing high quality proteins will provide amino acid building blocks to build and repair a healthy muscular system. No two horses are the same and some require more support than others. Weak or backward individuals that are struggling to develop topline will often benefit from the addition of a pre-digested protein supplement such as Foran Equine’s Muscle Prep. A daily measure of Muscle Prep contains amino acids to support rapid muscle development in combination with vitamin E to support muscle recovery and a range of B-vitamins to promote appetite and increase protein and energy utilisation – supporting your yearling to achieve improved digestibility from all components of his diet.
Struggling to hold condition
Topline and muscle conditioning cannot be achieved where horses are not holding the appropriate condition. Yearlings that come in for prep at lower body condition scores, or those that are struggling to maintain condition as the workload increases will benefit from a high fat conditioner. Define & Shine is specifically formulated to support weight gain and topline. Define & Shine’s amino acid profile uniquely mirrors the ratio of horse muscle, providing optimal proportions to support growth and development. The high levels of omega-3 rich oils increase the calorie density of meals while also supporting coat condition and overall well-being. Introduce slowly and feed 200-400g daily throughout prep on top of a balanced diet.
Rich summer grazing will often meet the calorie requirements of yearlings, so it is likely that many have not received supplementary feeding in the months prior to sales preparation. Irish grazing alone will not contain enough copper to meet the daily requirements of growing horses so if your youngstock have not been supplemented while turned out it will be important to address this as soon as they are brought in for prepping. Copper plays a role in several key functions in the body. A copper deficiency can often be identified by a dull, orange-tinged coat and because of its involvement in new bone formation, a deficiency may also cause an increased incidence of OCD lesions in young horses.
Foran Equine’s CopperVit has a multitude of benefits for yearlings. As well as supplying a fully chelated source of highly available copper, it also contains antioxidants to support a challenged immune system and key vitamins and chelated minerals to support healthy joints, coat and hooves.
A short course of CopperVit at the beginning of sales prep will help to rectify present copper deficiencies and a second course closer to the sales may be beneficial to improve appetite and optimum depth of colour and shine to the coat.
The nutrition team at Red Mills and Foran Equine offer complementary diet planning services to help you best understand and meet your horses’ requirements – get in touch with your sales representative for more details.