Studying Energy Expenditure for Equine Nutrition Precision

Researchers are working toward formulating nutritional recommendations for specific types of equine activity.

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Whether a horse races, jumps, trots, or trail rides, the amount of energy he expends through exercise varies due to his training program. By exploring the physiology of energy exertion through exercise, researchers are making progress toward formulating more precise nutritional recommendations for specific types of equine activity.

During Alltech’s 29th International Symposium, held May 19-22 in Lexington, Ky., Veronique Julliand, PhD, DVM, a veterinarian and professor at Agrosup Dijon in France, presented findings from studies that characterized the type of exercises harnessed trotters and endurance horses perform during training and examined the energy expenditure for each exercise. This research explored how understanding a horse’s energetic expenditure during a specific type of exercise could help horse owners, nutritionists, and trainers make better nutritional decisions for their equine athletes.

“The final aim of what we do is to feed the horse for better health and performance,” Julliand said. “Gallopers will not have the same demand as trotters or endurance horses. This probably seems obvious, but until today this has not been explored.”

Julliand and her team conducted two field surveys of endurance horses and harnessed trotters. First, the team defined the training management of the horses in each sport and the different types of exercise performed. Training management of endurance horses involved outdoor rides at 13 kilometers per hour (about 8 miles per hour) with 70% of the ride at a trot and outdoor rides at 8 kilometers per hour (about 5 miles per hour) with 80% of the ride at a walk. In addition, the endurance horses trained on a racetrack at a canter and in a walker. The group of trotters performed five types of exercise, including "promenade," jogging, courses, interval training, and walking

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