3 tips to feeding your horse in preparation for endurance riding

Posted on: 19 June 2015

Endurance riding is a great sport that allows you to spend time with your horse in the countryside, seeing wonderful views and spotting wildlife. Rides can last between three and 24 hours, depending on your speed and the length of the course. Because endurance riding tests the endurance of both horse and rider, both you and your horse need to be prepared. This means training and correct feeding in the months leading up to the ride. Here are 3 tips to feeding your horse correctly to help them cope on your endurance ride.

Basics. Every horse should have access to pasture and hay. This provides your horse with essential fibre, but this fibre is also what gives your horse energy, which they'll need plenty of to do an endurance ride. Extra fibre can be provided by feeding them sugar beets, which are low fat but high energy. Good energy hard feeds include cereal based feeds of maize, barley and oats. These often include starch, which keeps your horse's blood sugar levels up, and oily fat, which can give your horse something to burn off without touching the muscle fibres.  

Staying strong. Good turnout and regular access to hay will help your horse to stay healthy and strong, but an endurance horse will need a little extra muscle and strong hooves to help it over any rough terrain. Protein is the best way to help your horse's muscles develop and keep your horse's hooves healthy, and this can be found in limited quantities in your horse's daily roughage (pasture and hay), so a hard feed should also be given. Speak with your vet before changing your horse's feed and then change any feed slowly so as not to irritate your horse's gut.

Sweat. As you increase your training, and once out on the endurance ride, your horse will be sweating. These vital salts and fluids need to be replaced, and it's a good idea to start this as soon as the hard training begins. Water should be made available to your horse throughout and after training and endurance riding.

The salts lost through sweat make up your horse's electrolytes, which ensure your horse's nerves and muscles are working correctly. If these become low, your horse will become exhausted. Electrolytes can be found naturally in grass and hay, but you should consider feeding your endurance horse a hard feed that contains electrolytes, especially as a snack during the rides, and offering your horse a salt lick or adding some salt to their feed. Again, always check with your vet before adding salt or changing your horse's hard feed.  

Endurance riding is fun and invigorating and a sport you can take at your own pace. But you must prepare your horse for such rides carefully. Also consult your vet before changing your horse's feed or training schedule. For more information about horse feed options, contact a local supplier like Produce Direct & Pet Centre