Feeding Racehorses: Do Racehorses Follow Strict Diets?

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We all like to go to the races. We love the energy of the day, the social aspect of the sport. When it comes to betting, we all work hard to do our homework on form and potential by heading over to Timeform to do our research before putting on that all important bet that we hope is going to bring us a big win. There is a lot that goes into preparing ourselves for each race. However, few of us stop to think about the racehorses involved in our favourite sport. In this guide we are talking about feeding racehorses as we ask: do race horses follow strict diets?

Just like all top class athletes, horses need the right mixture of vitamins and nutrients to ensure that they perform at their best and maximise their winning potential. 

The racehorse’s diet is very carefully planned and balanced to ensure the conditions for a good performance are met, and so that they provide us all with the entertainment and winning bets that we all know and love.

Given the nature of racing and the amount of energy that a horse needs in order to take part in a race, a racehorse’s daily diet is one that is very high in calories. 

Just like all  human athletes, energy needs to be released slowly in order to ensure that the horse can ‘go the distance’ and endure a high energy output throughout the race it is taking part in. 

The most important macronutrients for racehorses are glycogen and fat. Fat is a rich source of energy and calories, and horses need to eat a lot of it because they burn around 35,000 calories a day. Glycogen is important for muscles, and it goes without saying that horses need strong muscles in order to move with the speed and strength that we see them display during races. Protein and fibre are key to the contribution and management of glycogen stores. Therefore, a racehorse’s diet will be made up of foods that are naturally rich in the macronutrients needed to allow them to compete at the highest level. 

Racehorses eat a lot of hay and grains such as oats, corn and barley. These are often fed in a well-balanced, scientifically designed feed that is adapted for each individual horse and the needs of its body and in order to support the level of performance required. The make up of a horse’s diet will be adapted as it grows and in response to performance. 

Drinking is also very important for horses. Whilst training it is important that the horse is kept hydrated as this helps with concentration. Water also plays a key role in the metabolic reactions needed in order for the food a horse eats to be processed in the body. 

When training and racing, racehorses sweat a lot, and so on race days it is important that they drink plenty. In fact, they can lose in excess of eight gallons of water through sweating during a race.