In Part 2 of the series on rehabilitating the off the track horse into a successful pleasure or sport horse, Dr Kempton of Stance Equine discusses some of the aspects to take into account when ‘letting down’, retraining and returning the ex-racehorse into work. OTT horses usually do not come with a safety certificate or warranty of fitness, and in most cases their training methods and feeding regimes are unknown. It is therefore essential that as a responsible owner you take some time to think about your goals and expectations for this new horse.
Dr Tim Kempton from Stance Equine explains how condition is measured using a 9 point score from poor/emaciated = 1, through to extremely fat or obese = 9. The upper curvature of a horse’s withers, back, and loin is called the "topline." Pertinent points Both condition and topline are determined to large extent by a combination of muscle and fat to put on weight. Sports horses conditioned for endurance and racing generally have little fat on the topline.
The attraction of trail riding is to ride through remote and natural landscape, which in most cases is National Parks and State Forests. For the adventurous riders who head-out on extended trails, there is often insufficient herbage along the trails to provide the nutrients required to maintain bodyweight, and allow the horse to perform the work required. Dr Tim Kempton, Stance Equine. Therefore, it is necessary to pack in supplementary feed, or arrange feed drops. Key issues for selecting suitable feeds include: 1. Energy density.
Dr Tim Kempton, Stance Equine. All feeds contain carbohydrates. Carbohydrates include the fibre, and sugars and starch. The fibres are the STRUCTURAL CARBOHYDRATES that hold the plant up. These fibres are both digestible or indigestible. Look at your horse’s manure. Take some and wash it in a bucket. What you see is the indigestible fibre from the feed. Horse’s manure is drier than cattle because they do not digest fibre as well as cattle, and because they absorb more water from the hindgut.