Eventing can be a nerve-racking experience for riders and grooms, as there is often a lot of pressure to perform well following months of training and preparation. Helping your horse look and perform their best on the day requires the perfect balance of an optimal fitness programme and strong nutritional foundations.
Here we will tackle some of the most common questions we get from eventers ahead of competitions:
Fitness training and optimising the diet are key in building up a horse’s stamina and muscle strength before, during, and after a competition. Focusing on a strong, well-developed musculature, that doesn’t fatigue prematurely, will promote performance and can be helped by supplementing with Muscle Max. A liquid equine dietary muscle supplement Muscle Max contains the powerful antioxidants vitamin E and selenium, along with lysine, all known to promote muscle function and recovery. These nutrients act to support muscle function and recovery post-exercise.
‘Branched chain amino acids’ (BCAAs) are estimated to make up to 40% of muscle protein. When the muscles are worked hard over a long period of time, the body naturally looks to utilise BCAAs as a source of energy, and so starts to break down muscle tissue, increasing the risk of soreness and prolonged recovery. Pre-fuel gel is an equine rapid energy paste containing essential BCAA’s. When used before planned exertion, it can help maximise athletic performance by ensuring a ready supply of BCAAs is available supporting stamina and optimal recovery. The essential minerals, B vitamins and Vitamin E that are also found in Pre-fuel gel help drive optimal muscle function.
Focusing on post-exercise recovery is important for ensuring continued soundness and general wellbeing. Electrolytes and fluids lost during exertion need replacing, as does the horses spent up energy supplies. Re-fuel Gel is specifically designed to manage the loss of electrolytes through sweating, ensuring optimal rehydration and supporting muscle and nervous function. B vitamins are included to aid protein and energy metabolism and maintain appetite, helping in the process of replacing those vital energy supplies to the cells. Vitamins C and E are included to deliver a powerful antioxidant package, to aid whole body and specifically, muscle recovery.
While training at home, travelling to events and during competition horses will lose electrolytes through sweat and respiration, these must be replaced appropriately via a supplement such as Equi-Lyte G, a powdered electrolyte supplement containing sodium, potassium, chloride, magnesium and calcium that can be given in the feed. You can also use the Re-Fuel gel we have already discussed and these are particularly useful at shows due to their convenient design allowing for direct oral administration, so you have peace of mind that your horse has received what they need.
When providing any electrolyte of any type, at any time, a fresh water supply must be available to your horse at all times. Remember water is the forgotten nutrient!
Read more about electrolyte loss and replacement.
The purpose of trot up is to ensure the welfare and safety of the horses and the riders by helping identify any smaller issues that could become bigger problems during the event. No rider wants to fail at the trot up stage but, likewise, no rider would want to jeopardise their horse by continuing if there is a problem. The trot up right before the show jumping phase can be an incredibly tense part of the event. This is when any knocks and bangs that the horses have picked up on the cross country are highlighted, as is any lingering muscle stiffness!
Marks on the horse’s body can also cause plenty of deliberation amongst the ground jury. After the cross-country phase, all horses will need to be washed off to bring the horse’s body temperature down and remove all sweat and saddle marks that could become irritated overnight.
Many eventing grooms will then spend several hours cold hosing and icing legs to ensure that there is minimal inflammation or swelling. Products such as <a href=”https://foranequine.com/our-supplement/arnica-aloe-vera-leg-gel/”>Arnica and Aloe Vera Leg Gel </a>and <a href=”https://foranequine.com/our-supplement/ice-clay/”>Ice-Clay</a> can also help to cool and soothe tired legs reducing the time needed for hosing and icing. <a href=”https://foranequine.com/our-supplement/ice-clay/”>Ice Clay</a> rapidly cools by dissipating heat and does not flake or turn chalky, giving lasting results until it is simply washed off with cold water. <a href=”https://foranequine.com/our-supplement/arnica-aloe-vera-leg-gel/”>Arnica and Allow Vera Leg Gel</a> revitalises hot legs, while also soothing any nicks or bruises.
Using products like Muscle Max, that we discussed in an earlier question, will help horses prone to muscle stiffness after the cross-country efforts and improve your chances of a trouble free trot up.
Good coat quality is important for a successful event horse to look the part (along with a good groom for tidy plaits!). Adding Kentucky Karron Oil to your horse’s feed every day leading up to the competition can help, as adding oil to the diet improves the production of sebum supporting the natural oil production giving the coat a standout shine. Kentucky Karron oil has the benefit of containing excellent levels of essential omega-3 fatty acids, which are key for maintaining a healthy coat and skin, supporting the immune health of your horse, and even their joint health..
Read more about the benefits of feeding an oil.
All Foran Equine products are strict anti-doping formulae assured (S.A.F.E). The Foran Equine S.A.F.E. mark of approval is awarded to a product only when we are certain that it contains no prohibited substances and is safe for use in competition horses.
Read more about supplements for horses in training.
If you would like any further advice on eventing, please don’t hesitate to contact our expert equine team.