The pace often slows during the off season and so when spring comes around, a gear change is required as pre-season training kicks in ready for the competition season to start. A well planned pre-season diet can help get a horse into optimal condition inside and out.
For horses that have been on reduced work over winter, a return to training can lead to a certain amount of overexuberance and fizz! Some horses may also have lost condition over the winter months, losing muscle mass and even gaining fat in its place.
For these reasons, restricting calorie intake particularly from “heating” feeds, in the initial pre-season period can be helpful. Many horses can easily afford a period of time on a reduced calorie intake – especially when training is still relatively light – but reducing essential amino acids, vitamins and minerals at this time may cause other issues. Especially as deficiencies in most vitamins and minerals are most likely to develop in the winter months, they can be difficult to detect and the signs take some time to appear.
Read more about the roles of vitamins and minerals in horses and deficiencies
If your horse is on restricted calories for a little while, you can still meet the requirements for vitamins and minerals by adding a supplement such as Chevinal. This multivitamin, mineral and essential amino acid supplement is specifically designed for horses, ensuring that their micronutrient needs are met when given daily
Cold temperatures, wet weather and the inevitable mud can really affect the quality of the coat and hooves. Winter diets can be relatively low in nutrient content, and so a pre-season nutritional boost can help with dull coats and poor hoof growth. As this will only affect new hair and new hoof horn growth, it is important to start early ahead of the season so that full benefits are starting to be seen in time for the competitive season.
Feeding Kentucky Karron Oil ahead of the season is a great way to get a real sparkle from the inside out. This emulsified linseed (AKA flaxseed) oil is extremely digestible and provides essential omega 3 fatty acids that not only help coats shine, but will also support your horses immune health as you start to step up their workload. To help strengthen brittle hooves, Hoof Aid liquid provides nutrients such as biotin, methionine, MSM, zinc and copper. The combination of these ingredients promotes optimal horn growth through keratin synthesis – important for hoof strength.
Read more about maintaining healthy hooves
Some areas have soil that is particularly deficient in copper. Horses that are grazed on this type of land or are eating conserved forage cut from this land, have the potential to have developed a copper deficiency. This often shows as a coat that looks dull brown or sun-bleached, rather than glossy bay or bright chestnut, as their workload increases a deficiency could start to show through compromised performance as well. For horses with a potential copper deficiency you could use a copper supplement such as Coppervit, which is a daily supplement for horses, containing highly bioavailable chelated copper, Vitamin E and B12. Coppervit will support not just your horses coat but also immune health and energy metabolism as his preseason training progresses. It is ideal for horses that are being fed daily and require additional copper intake. For ultimate convenience, Copper Max delivers chelated copper in an easy-to-administer oral paste, with added zinc for optimal absorption.
Read more about copper in horses
For further advice or if you have any question relating to a particular horse or situation