Amongst those are the generic potential of your horse, the soundness of the horse, your training programme and methods, the ability of the rider and of course ‘luck in the running’ so to speak. Some of these factors are often out of your control but there is another essential element for success which is entirely dependent on you and this is the nutrition of your equine athlete. It goes without saying that even the best nutrition programme will not transform a moderate horse into a champion, but proper nutrition will ensure your horses are able to reach their ultimate potential.
Capstone Horse Feeds is proud of its association with Kentucky Equine Research (KER), the world’s leading Equine nutrition and exercise physiology experts and they thrive to provide you with the best available feeds for your performance horses in all disciplines. There are always one or more products in the Capstone range of feeds to suit your horses’ requirements right from the breeding shed to the horse in retirement.
Energy and performance
Meeting the energy requirement is the most important factor in feeding performance horses and the higher the performance, the greater is the energy requirement. There are different sources of energy used in horse nutrition namely starches (contained in cereal grains), fats, oils, proteins (not very efficient) and fibre. Providing a feed that satisfies the energy requirement for each horse on a daily basis from appropriate and balanced energy sources is of paramount importance and is inherent to the Capstone product feed range.
Your horses’ body weight or body condition
You as the Trainer or Owner have to manage the daily feed intake of your horses judiciously as the energy required per horse each day is affected by the level of training or competition and a sure guide to daily feed intake requirement, from an energy point of view, lies in closely monitoring your horses’ body weight.
Regularly monitoring your horse’s weight helps optimise your feed intake. For example most horses perform best within a very narrow spectrum of their body weight and you will obviously aim to have your horses within that range always and though good horsemen have the ‘eye’ for this, the weight scale reinforces one’s thought as the scale doesn’t lie. If you do not have access to a scale, careful observation and recording of the horse’s body condition is a vital part of your management. Capstone can supply you with body conditioning scoring figures to help in this task.
Where the daily energy intake is too low for the level of training or competition, the horse will lose weight and the energy portion of feed intake must be adjusted upwards or he will become too light. The converse is also true and the horse will become overweight particularly with high energy and digestibility feeds like many in the Capstone range.
Every horse has a different make up and the amount of feed which is adequate for one may not suffice for another or be too much. Adjust your horse’s diet according to the amount of exercise you decide to give your horse; that is the training programme you have planned for him.
Do not feed and then decide on how much exercise to give – do it the other way round.
When you decide to ease back on your training, do not feed the same so as not to have to later increase the amount of exercise to shed weight off your horse. In most cases when the horse remains within its optimum bodyweight range his feed intake is adequate from an energy point of view.
We at Capstone can provide you with a body conditioning chart which is useful for horsemen without access to a scale (you can use a weight tape as well) to assess body condition by sight.
Horses’ feed capacity
Most of us are aware that horses in general will consume a total of between 2.0 and 3.0% of their bodyweight in dry feed intake each day, so a 500kg horse will eat a total of between 10 to 15.0kg’s of feed (dry matter basis – slightly higher in practice as the moisture content of the feed intake has to be taken into account) which include both the concentrate portion (such as Capstone Race Time or Cool Time for example) and the forage part (hay – preferably early harvested, lucerne, pasture) .
The importance of good quality forage
A sufficient intake of forage (including the fibre portion of the feed) is vital for the proper functioning of a horses’ hind gut or large intestine and for proper, healthy digestion to occur, most authorities recommend that horses consume a minimum of 1% (preferably up to 1.5%) of their bodyweight in high quality forage each day even for highly competing horses. This represents a 5kg intake of fibrous matter (as dry matter) for a 500kg horse in hard training and racing for example. If it’s grazing pasture, the horse would need to eat much more as pasture can contain between 70 to 80% water whereas most hays only have a 10% water content. So 5 kilos of hay may equate to 25 kilos of fresh pasture.
We recommend feeding between 5 to 7kg’s of Capstone concentrate per horse per day, in as many separate meals as possible, for horses in full training and competing (few horses may need slightly more to satisfy their energy requirements and few may thrive on slightly less).
It is a recorded fact that a horse’s appetite, hence total daily feed intake, does not change much as the level of exercise increases but often reduces as horses go into harder training and competition. It is obvious therefore that as work intensity increases, the energy portion of the diet per kg fed (energy density) has to be higher as well to meet all the energy requirements and retain optimum bodyweight. This amounts to proper feed management.
With poor doers for instance, it is necessary to have even higher energy density feed to meet the demands on energy requirements.
Hint on feeding
Horses are continuous grazers in nature and eat for 12 to 16 hours per day. They have a small stomach and eat only a little at a time and often. This is how their digestive tract is designed to function best and when stabled, we must try and replicate their natural way of eating as much as we can, but we are faced with the challenge of maximizing their energy intake as well for optimum performance.
Horse’s digestive systems
Horses have small stomachs and cannot digest large meals. Whereas a horse’s total mean digesta retention is around 30 to 48 hours, the stomach only retains food up to half to six hours at a time where the food is broken down by stomach acids.
Their small intestine is also relatively small and this is where all the starch (main energy source) portion of the diet, sugars, protein, oil, most vitamins and minerals (both macro and micro) are broken down and absorbed, by natural enzymes produced by the horse. Ideally therefore as close to 100% digestion of these components in the horse’s ration should take place there before the feed reaches the horse’s large intestine or hind gut whose function is to digest the fibrous portion of the feed intake through a fermentation process.
When feeding large meals at any one time, the time food stays in the stomach is reduced and therefore a larger amount of ‘non broken down’ food reaches the small intestine affecting proper absorption of nutrients there. Feeding large meals also increase the rate of passage of feed through the small intestine and overwhelms its digestive capability thus affecting the breakdown and absorption of the all important nutrients.
Large feeds also mean that a large proportion of undigested starch and protein will enter the large intestine where they are not welcome and affect the residient bacteria designed for fibre fermentation and digestion (not starch or protein digestion) and cause havoc. Excessive starch fermentation in the hindgut caused by undigested starch leaving the small intestine, produces acid and unduly reduces the ph there causing hind gut acidosis, even colic, diarrhoea and laminitis.
Capstone feeds incorporate micronized barley and maize to optimize the digestion of starch in the small intestine but we still recommend that you do not feed in excess of 2.5 kg of any of our products per single meal and feed as often as practically possible; 3 to 4 meals per day is far better than 2 meals a day. During rest periods, reduce the amount of concentrate fed.
When the amount of Capstone concentrate fed per day is reduced and falls below 5kgs per horse per day, there is a risk that the daily optimum requirements in vitamins, amino acids and minerals for performance horses are not fully met. To overcome this, we recommend that you add 200 grams of Capstone Life Time Balancer pellets to the daily ration for every kilo of concentrate less than 5kgs per horse per day. If you already feed Capstone Exel, this is not necessary.
Importance of feeding quality hay
Hay should be fed to horses ad lib wherever possible. Apart from the need for sufficient fibre in order for proper digestive processes to occur and keep a healthy hind gut, the acid produced in the horse’s stomach (necessary for breaking down the food) is partly neutralized by the amount of saliva (alkaline) produced when chewing hay, entering the stomach.
The alkaline saliva also serves to protect the exposed mucosa in the stomach wall from excessive exposure to gastric acid and reduces the formation of gastric ulcers. The continuous presence of salivated food in the stomach, with ad lib hay, thus helps greatly with the incidence of stomach ulcers. Certain feeds such as Capstone Race 13, the world’s winning race feed and made under license to Hallway feed Co of the USA, make use of certain ‘super fibres’ such as sugar beet pulp which is also an excellent source of energy derived from fibre digested and absorbed in the hind gut. It is always best to feed from a feed bin on the ground which is the way horse is designed to eat from as it also promotes any mucuous clearance from the lungs and/or trachea.
Starch as a main energy source in horse diets
Performance horse’s diets invariably contain high concentrations of starch rich cereal grains such as maize, oats, barley and even wheat. Starch is the most important source of energy for horses as it provides a readily available source of glucose for muscle fuel but act as a most important agent in the formation of glycogen hence carbohydrate stores in the body ; all formed by complex chemical processes. Starch is therefore a major source of fuel for the performance horse.
There is a major problem with the structure of some of the starch molecules in various cereals which affect the digestibility of the starch in the horse’s small intestine though and whereas oat starch is easily digested, the same cannot be said for barley and maize starch. As a result feeding uncooked barley or maize will result in undigested and unwanted starch entering the hindgut from the small intestine (where it should all be digested) with all the drawbacks already outlined. Furthermore, undigested starches and proteins entering the large intestine where their absorption is not only detrimental but ineffective in terms of energy conversion and amino acid supply to the organism are a waste.
Capstone feeds and micronized grains
All Capstone feeds overcome the above by making use of micronized cereal grains. The ‘micronization’ process, a patented infrared cooking process, is the best starch conversion process – referred to as the irreversible gelatinization of starch molecules – it is used worldwide in many leading feed brands, to maximize the digestion of all cereal grains in the horse’s small intestine thus not only ensuring maximum conversion of the starch portion of the feed to energy most efficiently but also ensuring a healthy horse’s digestive system and a happy horse.
Fats and Oils as vital energy sources
Other than starch, fat is also an important source of energy for performance horses and recent research has proven that fats are very well tolerated by equines digestive systems. Fat is often referred to as a source of cool energy and have higher calorific value than cereal grains (two to three times more) but they are a slower release source of energy well suited to sport, endurance or breeding horses and a certain amount is also included with success in race horses diets. Fats in the form of oils have a further advantage in that they increase the energy density of feeds without much increase in volume. Capstone feeds contain optimum levels of added vegetable oils high in Omega 3 fatty acids which have a number of health benefits for the horse.
The use of balanced Electrolytes Like most concentrate feeds sold commercially, we recommend the use of added salt and electrolytes such as Capstone Electrolytes to the daily ration especially in hot humid conditions. This ensures the horse’s daily needs of essential electrolytes lost in sweat are replenished.
Vitamins and minerals
All Capstone feeds include a KER formulated broad spectrum vitamin and mineral premix pack specially designed for its intended use which aims to complement the ingredients used in the product range and provide a well balanced ration in each case.
There is little else which we recommend to add to a Capstone based ration as we believe your horse is getting a well balanced and complete nutrition package. For those who insist of adding further supplements and feel better if they do so, the addition of vitamin E, a most important antioxidant, will of course do no harm. Or the addition of up to 60 ml of deodorized fish oil per horse per day may help increase the omega 3 input and may be beneficial in some disciplines – it can only do good. B complex vitamins are also often used and will do no harm but are often an unnecessary supplement. We do not recommend any addition of macro minerals and most other vitamins as they will be wasted or can only imbalance what the experts have designed.
Capstone Excel supplement
Capstone Excel supplement is designed to be added to feeds especially when the recommended amounts per horse per day are not fed and is a most complete supplement which we would recommend to horse owners and trainers should they want to do something extra for their horses during periods of competition or heavy stress. Please note that Capstone is not in the supplement feed market as such as we believe our feeds already contain all the necessary ingredients a performance horse requires.
The KER formulated Capstone Excel supplement is a very broad spectrum supplement and contains all the essential elements in one single formulation designed for horse users as one only has to feed one supplement. You are invited to peruse through Excel’s composition to verify our statement.
Please note that all the Capstone horse feed range is based on the ‘fixed formulation principle’ and formulations only done by KER. The bag you buy tomorrow will be the same as the one you buy today.
Capstone feeds are distributed country wide in SA by Afresh Brands and their Dealer network.
For Exports kindly contact the Capstone office at email@example.com.