Fueling Your Equine Athlete

the best diet for performance horse feed

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Fueling Your Equine Athlete: The Best Diet for Performance Horse Feed

Just like human athletes, performance horses require a carefully balanced diet to meet their unique energy demands and support their physical conditioning. Proper nutrition is critical to not only fuel peak performance, but to maintain the overall well-being of our equine athletes.

Energy Requirements of Performance Horses

All horses need water, energy, fiber, protein, vitamins, and minerals to maintain their general health and wellness. Performance horses require more energy to fuel their active lifestyle and meet their performance goals. Individual performance horse’s nutrition and energy requirements will vary based on factors like your horse’s age, workload, and overall body condition. Different equestrian disciplines, like dressage, show jumping, or racing, have varying energy demands.

To determine your horse’s unique energy requirements, consider their weight, activity level, and the type of activities they perform. Consult with your veterinarian or an equine nutritionist to calculate the appropriate energy and nutritional needs of your equine athlete.

Key Nutrients In Performance Horse Feed

Through evolution and selective breeding, horses have developed incredible athletic abilities. You may have the leading coaches, a world-class training facility, and even some high-tech equipment – but your equine athlete needs the key nutrients found in quality performance horse feed to reach their full potential.


Protein is essential for muscle development, repair, and overall tissue health. Performance horses require higher levels of high-quality protein sources to support their athletic lifestyle. Soybean meal, legumes, and high-quality forage are top protein sources for working and performance horses.


Carbohydrates are a horse’s primary energy source. Carbs are not a one-size-fits-all nutrient. The amount and type of carb sources can vary based on the horse’s work intensity and even duration. Performance horses benefit from carbohydrate sources like oats, barley, or corn because they are easily digestible.


Fats act as a concentrated energy source, which is particularly beneficial for performance horses who need sustained energy for high-intensity exercise or endurance work. Fat sources like vegetable oil or rice bran can be added to the horse’s diet in moderate amounts to support their energy needs.

Vitamins & Minerals

The performance and overall health of horses rely on receiving adequate vitamins and minerals. Key vitamins for equine athletes include vitamin E, which supports muscle function, and vitamin B complex, which aids in energy metabolism. Minerals play vital roles in bone health and muscle function.


Proper hydration is a priority for all horses, especially performance horses. Horses should always have unlimited access to fresh drinking water. A horse will typically drink around 8 gallons of water daily, but hard-working horses may need up to 20 gallons. Don’t undervalue the importance of clean, fresh, and cool water.

Special Considerations for Equine Athletes

Special considerations for performance horse diets work with the unique demands placed on these equine athletes and address potential challenges they may face.

Electrolyte Supplementation

Intense workouts and hot weather can cause electrolyte imbalances in horses. Performance horses should have free access to salt. Supplementing electrolytes before, during, or after strenuous exercise helps maintain electrolyte balance and supports higher performance abilities.

Joint Support Supplements

Performance horses are prone to joint stress and inflammation from their active lifestyles. Supplements can help support your horse’s specific needs. Always consult with your veterinarian before adding a joint supplement to your horse’s diet.

Creating an Individualized Diet Plan

Each performance horse is unique, with their own dietary needs. Always start with high-quality horse feed like Integrity Performance or Ace Hi Performance Plus 606 Pellets Consult your veterinarian or an equine nutritionist to assess your horse’s overall health, work with your performance goals, and take appropriate adjustments and supplements to the diet plan based on your specific needs.

Monitor your horse’s progress by regularly estimating your horse’s weight and body condition score. Keep a log of your horses’ data to assess changes over time and make the appropriate adjustments.

Feeding Performance Horses

Fueling your equine athlete with the best diet is essential for optimizing their performance and maintaining their health. By understanding the unique diet needs of performance horses you can equip your equine athlete with the fuel they need to excel in their chosen discipline.

Learn more about your horse’s nutritional needs from our equine nutritionist, Dr. Robert Bray.

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