What can you do to ensure healthy, sound horses at the sales with quick breezing times? Breeze up horses need to be fit enough to run, in good condition for the sales ring, and stay sound enough to continue on to become successful racehorses.
What can you do to ensure healthy, sound horses at the sales with quick breezing times?
Preparing breeze up horses for sale is a fine art. Racehorses need to be fit enough to race, yearlings need to look amazing for the sales ring. Breeze up horses need to be fit enough to run, in good condition for the sales ring, and stay sound enough to continue on to become successful racehorses.
Large quantities of feed, particularly feed with high starch levels can cause muscle problems and highly strung temperament. This can be detrimental to breezing times as the horses burns too much nervous energy before doing its piece of work. These horses also have an increased incidence of muscle problems such as tying up.
Tying up in horses is well known in its acute form, however there are many horses that have ongoing periods of low grade tying up that are simply reported as being “a bit short” in their stride, taking longer to warm up or not recovering quickly after work.
Adjusting the diet can have a dramatic positive effect on both tying up and temperament. Feeding several small meals with plenty of hay improves the health of the horse and the cost efficiency of the feed. Hard feed can only be digested in the small intestine (foregut), and this happens within five hours of eating it. Feed that is undigested in the hindgut is an expensive waste. The hindgut (large intestine) is not designed to digest starch, so having large amounts present causes the bacteria present to become unbalanced. There is loss of “good” bacteria and proliferation of “bad” bacteria, causing release of toxins which can sometimes result in nervous behaviour, muscle problems and diarrhoea. Feeding a low starch feed, while maintaining protein levels, will alleviate many problems.
Addressing muscle problems late in the preparation may need more managing than changing starch levels alone. Antioxidants are a vital component in muscle health. Antioxidants counteract muscle damage and aid the repair of muscle that is already damaged. Vitamin E and Selenium have well researched links with muscle health in horses. Foran’s Muscle Max contains the both Vitamin E and Selenium, as well as the lysine and B vitamins. Lysine is an essential amino acid necessary for muscle, bone and joint growth in young horses, while B vitamins help to maintain balance in the hindgut. Adding dietary supplements 3 to 4 weeks before sales day will maximise effect. Supplements targeted at neutralising the lactic acid build up in the horse are also very useful. Neutrolac is a liquid oral supplement that does just that. A daily evening dose can aid against lactic acid build up in the muscles and helps to counteract fatigue and improve recovery.
Energy and protein intake are vitally important in the breezing 2 year old. High quality protein in the diet is essential to provide the building blocks for skeletal growth and promote muscle growth and repair for horses in intense work. Often horses in hard work start to lose their appetite. This is not ideal when trying to maintain energy and protein intake. Depending on the horse in question there are a couple of things that can be done. Supplements may be added to improve appetite. Foran’s Shy Feeder works in two ways: adding B vitamins to the diet supports hindgut health and appetite improves accordingly, the unique formulation also improves the palatability of the feed leading to increased feed intake. For horses that will not eat more it is possible to add vital protein and energy to the diet by adding a feed balancer, this allows extra calories and protein to be added in a small volume of feed.
Breeze up preparation increases the protein requirements. The quality of the protein is even more important than the percentage. Human athletes are discovering the benefits of high quality, easily digested protein, as seen with the protein bars and shakes that are now widely used. Feeding high quality, readily digested protein, gives an increase in muscle mass and improves muscle recovery after work. Pro Am Protein Prep is a pre-digested protein with added B vitamins and Vitamin E in liquid form. This unique formulation is highly bioavailable and so is rapidly absorbed and used within the body for muscle building and recovery.
Maximising performance at the sales
At some sales the horses are required to breeze twice. This increases the demands on the horse significantly. Not only does the horse have to breeze in good time, it also has to recover and do it all over again within a very short time frame. Even after a single breeze the horse needs to recover well in order to dazzle in the sales ring. The key to success is to maximise recovery rates. To optimise recovery and performance it is essential to address hydration, and protein intake and delivery.
Sweating horses lose both electrolytes and water. Post exercise electrolytes are very important. Refuel Gel delivers optimum quantities of electrolytes, as well as antioxidant vitamins C and E in an easy to administer, single dose oral syringe. It is essential when giving horse electrolytes or any other product containing electrolytes that the horse has free access to water. Giving electrolytes without water will make the dehydration much worse.
Exercise causes muscle to breakdown. Time repairs muscle.
Horses at the sale do not have a lot of time to recover before they perform again, or are presented at the sale ring. Fitness is essential as pre-conditioning minimises muscle breakdown. Nutrition also plays a key role. Horses that are getting ample energy and protein recover faster.Pro-Am Boostis a highly effective supplement designed to optimise athletic performance and recovery. The pre-digested protein supplies the necessary amino acids, and is combined with Vitamin E and electrolytes to delay the onset of fatigue and improve post exercise recovery.Pro-Am Boostcomes in a single dose, oral syringe. It can be given pre and post exercise. For maximum effect in breeze up horses it should be given daily once the horses has arrived at the sales ring.
With the Breeze Up season almost upon us, you still have time to ensure your horses have the best possible chance of success in the sales ring. Clever management at this stage can help your horses continue onto dazzling racing careers.
Sabrina Barnwell MVB MRCVS
Sabrina graduated from Veterinary Medicine in University College Dublin in 2004. She has worked as a veterinary surgeon in equine practice in Ireland, the UK and in Kentucky.
She joined the Connolly’s RED MILLS Technical Support Team in 2013 where she works closely with trainers, stud farms and competition yards on Equine Nutrition plans.