In the sport of show jumping, horses are required to have short bursts of activity as they power over jumps and need speed and strength but in a controlled and calm manner. Here we take a look at nutrition for showjumping horses.
There are so many factors that can influence the way a showjumper goes including his training, breeding, temperament and of course the relationship between horse and rider.
It is also important to consider the workload of the show jumper, what level they compete at, their age and also stage in their career and general status of health.
A showjumping horse can experience wear and tear on their joints, especially when competing at the higher levels, and care must be taken to support these with correct nutrition for showjumping horses.
Like all horses and ponies, forage in the form of hay, haylage and grass is a very important part of the show jumper’s diet.
Supply should be ad-lib allowing horses to access the forage when needed. It is also a great source of slow release energy which is important for show jumpers requiring energy over a long show period.
When deciding on the correct hard feed for your show jumper key points to consider are, the level of energy required, and the micronutrient and protein supply needed to ensure they compete at their best.
Also consider their temperament and character in general. If your horse is by nature excitable, a low starch, high fibre diet will be a preferred option in order that he doesn’t become too exuberant especially when in the arena.
For the calmer show jumper that needs his energy levels boosting, a higher level of cereals in the feed will provide a fast release source of energy.
Show jumping is a sport that is based on short, high intensity actions and cereal based feeds are ideal for horses that are naturally quite laid back. However, for horses that tend to be overly excitable or those that suffer from tying up or gastric ulcers, a low starch feed will be more suitable
Another important major nutrient is protein which is essential for performance as it is needed to build and repair tissues including muscle. Protein is made up of essential and non-essential amino acids. The horse can synthesis non-essential amino acids in their body, however essential amino acids must be supplied in the diet.
The quality of protein in the diet is extremely important; a lower quantity of high-quality protein feed can perform better than a low quality, high protein feed.
Vitamins and minerals are essential for many bodily functions including energy metabolism, bone strength and recovery. Copper is required throughout the horse’s life as it is involved in tissue elasticity and it can also help with coat condition.
Vitamin E is an antioxidant which is particularly important for horses in higher levels of work as they help to neutralise the increased free radical production associated with exercise.
Horses in hard work have increase requirements for electrolytes sodium, chloride and potassium which are lost in sweat
Rehydration is crucial to recovery after exercise; allow your horse frequent small amounts of fresh water immediately after exercise, then let them drink freely once they have cooled off
Providing electrolytes after exercise will speed up recovery, either in a small amount of wet feed or in water
The majority of the horse’s nutritional needs will be provided from forage and a well-balanced hard feed.
However, there are some circumstances where specific supplements can be enormously beneficial for performance and recovery.
Supplements can help target specific issues such as poor appetite, hoof quality or respiratory issues and help support your horse in order for them to give their best performance.
It supports healthy joints as it aids the integrity of the equine natural defence mechanisms, while supporting the body’s natural inflammation processes. In addition, TurmerAid™ can aid digestion and promote a healthy skin and coat.
Contact the British Horse Feeds team for any feed advice.
Read more about our feeds here.