Equine nutrition: Care with the feeding of athlete horses

Our athlete horses, the heroes of the tracks, require some special care on preparation for the competitions period. Nutrition, training, rest, and continuous monitoring with the veterinarian are some examples.

And today, let’s talk about the nutrition cares of athlete horses!

When a nutrition program is established, it is necessary to seek balance, which involves variables such as weight, age, type and intensity of physical effort, in addition to the availability of nutrients presents present in each food.

For an athlete horse to perform its work better and have a more efficient athletic performance, its food, its training methods, and adequate supplementation are essential pillars in the routine.

Let’s talk about diet? Follow the content produced by @vetnilequinosoficial.

What should be offered?

Regardless of the type of sport, the basis of the diet is always the same. What changes is the amount of nutrients and the choice of supplements that we should include in the nutrition of athletic equines.

So, the animal’s diet must always be adapted according to the requirements, valuing a balanced diet, without causing deficiencies and excesses. In addition, it must always be guided and accompanied by a professional in the area!

Basically, the main nutritional components for horses are water, energy, minerals, proteins, ats and vitamins.


It is essential that water is always available to the animal, always fresh and clean.

It is very important that the horse does not become thirsty, because if it loses 15% of your water reserve, it can have serious consequences.

It is also worth remembering that cold water is not recommended, especially when the horse is warm.


The energy is the fundamental basis for a good sporting performance, so it is important to offer the right amount from a source that the horse will not have difficulties to take advantage of. It should be supplied mostly in the form of fat and oils and to a lesser extent in the form of starch and grains.

Depending on the intensity of the effort, high energy rations are recommended, with ether extract above 6%. The advantage is that they can be offered in smaller quantities, thus leaving more space for the roughage, which prevents the animal from having gastric or intestinal overload.

It is also important to pay attention on the amount of total fat in the diet, in order to avoid overloading the body, or animal reducing consumption.

The roughage should represent 1 to 1.5% of the horse’s weight in dry matter.

If the amount of energy in the diet is not enough for the animals to have good performance, it is recommended to use a feed or supplement with more energy.

It is worth remembering that for short-term exercises, a smaller amount of roughage can be beneficial. However, in long-term exercises, the amount of roughage should be greater.


Mineral salt tis necessary for equine nutrition, but there are some other minerals that can be supplemented in diet due to greater loss through exercise, such as Calcium, Chlorine, Magnesium, Potassium, Sodium.

The amount and supplementation with these minerals vary according to the animal and depend on the type of effort performed, but they should be always offered, and the animal must always have plenty of water.


The nutrition for an athlete horse should always have a minimum of proteins, so that there is no drop of performance.

The protein requirement varies for each individual depending on their body composition and level of diary activity, so the guidance of trained professional is essential.

The supplementation within equine nutrition must be calculated according to the requirements of each animal and there are some factors that interfere in this decision:

  1. Stall or pasture

Animals in stables tend to have a restriction in the supply of forage, thus increasing the need of concentrate.

  1. Climate

It Interferes whit the quality of the pasture or hay produced, changing the concentration of some nutrients.

  1.  Individual digestibility

Factors such as dentition and health of the gastrointestinal tract can generate variation between animals.

  1. General status

It is necessary to evaluate the needs of each animal according to the body condition score and take the necessary actions so that it reaches the ideal.

  1. Breed

Some breeds perform better than others and the heavy breeds tend to have a better feed conversion than lighter breeds.

  1. Temperament

More agitated animals have greater needs than calmer ones.

How should food management be during the competition season?

There are some recommendations for the equine nutrition to be followed during the competition season. Some of them are:

  • If the competition is short distance, offer only water at will. By decreasing roughage, there is also a decrease in intestinal filing and the amount of weight that the horse supports - which helps it to perform better.

  • Avoid major dietary changes in the three on diet on the three weeks before the competition

  • Do not offer grain-bases foods in the 3 hours before competition, as they increase the concentration of insulin in the blood and decrease the use of fat - this can cause hypoglycemia right at the beginning of the competition which is when the animal needs more energy.

  • Offer supplements that compensate the energy and nutritional demands of each animal, according to the guidance of a professional in the area.



Juscelino Ribeiro
Os cuidados com os cavalos são de vital importância para sua performance e também para manter sua integridade física. Animais bem cuidados tem uma vida esportiva mais longa. Cuidar também é uma forma de carinho e respeito pelo nosso amigo.
22/02/2022 ás 22:03
Favilla Gentil Neto
No município de Urucará, realizamos anualmente uma corrida de cavalo em linha reta com 300 metros de comprimento e a maioria dos animais são distribuidos em algumas categorias, tipo: sem raça definida (Pé Duro), Comum e melhorado.
25/07/2022 ás 11:22
Juscelino Fernando Rennó Ribeiro
Não há nada mais gratificante para mim como Médico Veterinário que: ¨DEVOLVER O BEM ESTAR A UM CAVALO DOENTE¨ ¨COLOCAR UM CAVALO EM CONDIÇÕES DE COMPETIÇÃO EM SUA MELHOR FORMA FÍSICA¨. Amo isto.
16/08/2022 ás 19:30
Edson da purificação silva
Gastei das informações
09/12/2022 ás 21:41
Benjamin Abreu Júnior
Tenho uma égua de 8 anos (mm), pretendo coloca-la em competição de marcha com duração de + ou - 30 minutos cada prova. podem me passar uma dieta para esse tipo de competição?
09/02/2024 ás 08:16
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