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Feeding the Show and Performance Horse


By Dr. Martin Adams, PAS - Equine Nutritionist for Southern States A horse in a stable eating hay

You want your horse to look and perform at its best, as the time and money you have invested in training, grooming, caring and feeding your horse are great. Following are some features of Southern States® horse feeds to consider when selecting an effective feeding program for your show or performance horse.

Yeast Culture

Yeast culture added to the equine diet has been shown to increase fiber breakdown in the hindgut, enhance availability of phosphorus and magnesium, improve hair coat, reduce colic risk by maintaining a higher and healthier pH in the hindgut, and lower lactic acid levels in exercising horses. All Legends® horse feeds contain yeast culture to provide these beneficial effects to horses involved in show and performance activities.

Controlled Soluble Carbohydrate Levels

Legends Horse Feeds now have CarbCare technology, which is a new formulation process that allows all Legends horse feeds to have lower levels of soluble carbohydrates. The levels of soluble carbohydrates of all Southern States horse feeds has been tested by an independent laboratory and that information is available from our web site at www.southernstates.com.

Equine nutrition research has shown that lower dietary levels of soluble carbohydrates reduce lactic acid production and lower the incidence of colic and ulcer formation, and provide lower post-feeding blood levels of glucose and insulin that result in calmer behavior. All horses involved in show or performance activities will benefit from a feed with a lower level of soluble carbohydrates.

Added Fat

Fat is the most energy dense nutrient, containing 2.25 times more calories than protein or carbohydrate energy sources. Using a fat added feed will allow you to meet the energy demands of your horse with a lower feeding rate. Benefits of feeding less grain or concentrate can include decreased risk of colic, reduced formation of gastric ulcers, lower daily feed expense and calmer behavior.

Adding fat to the horse's diet may also improve performance through the effect of glycogen sparing. The horse's muscle fibers only utilize two sources of fuel for contraction when it is in work, fatty acids and glucose. Glucose is stored mainly in the muscle tissue in the form of glycogen. The horse's muscle tissue can use fatty acids and glucose as fuel sources during aerobic work, which includes exercise levels from walking to a fast trot. But the horse can only use glucose as an energy source during intense exercise like galloping because it is anaerobic activity. Glycogen sparing occurs when fat is added to the diet of an active horse, allowing it to utilize fatty acids as an energy source for lower levels of aerobic activity and "spares" the glucose or glycogen for faster anaerobic work, which has been shown to be limiting to the performance effort of several types of working horses.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

It has been known for many years that the addition of rich sources of omega-3 fatty acids to the horse's diet will improve hair coat. An improved appearance is especially important for show horses. But several research studies have shown that addition of omega-3 fatty acids may also provide benefits to performance horses by reducing inflammatory processes. These include improvements in joint function to increase stride length, better immune system response to decrease recovery time of muscle tissue after exercise and changes in composition of red blood cells to allow faster blood flow during exercise.

The highest concentrations of omega-3 fatty acids are found in flaxseed and fish oil. Also, soy oil and rice bran are greater sources of omega-3 fatty acids than corn oil. All Southern States horse feeds feature soy oil as the major fat source. Legends® CarbCare Performance and Legends® Sport Horse Plus horse feeds have added flaxseed and rice bran. Legends Omega Plus® is a flaxseed-based supplement with 25% fat.  Choose a Legends horse feed and/or supplement if you need to improve the appearance of your show horse or the performance of your working horse.


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