Feeding a thoroughbred, especially an ex racehorse, can be tricky. This is because they tend to lose weight easily but can be sensitive to many feeds, making them ‘hot’ or ‘fresh’. Therefore, the trick is to give them enough energy for the work they are doing and to keep the weight on without blowing their minds. However every horse is different and respond to different feeds, so you may need to try several different ones until you find one which suits your horse. You may also need to change your feeding as the seasons and your horses condition changes.
Another important consideration for horses which have raced is gastric ulcers. It is suggested that at least 90% of horses in race training have gastric ulcers. Although not all ex racehorses need to be given ulcer supplements, it is important to make sure they have plenty of forage and you may want to give them a haynet or chaff before exercising them. You can also use treat balls filled with fibre cubes and hay cubes like EquiBlox to help increase feeding times. This will reduce the likely hood of having an ulcer problem in the future.
Key Tip: High Fibre, Low Starch diet.
I find Ad Lib hay/haylage is better than more high energy feed.
I have put together a list of feeds used by many ex racehorse owners to help you choose what to feed, however, the perfect feed for your horse may not be on here, so you might need to do some further research.
If you have are particularly fizzy thoroughbred you may want avoid the following:
- cereal based feeds
- Oat feed
- Wheat feed
- Flaked maize
Many feed companies are very helpful at giving advice on individual cases based on their body condition score, work level and what you are hoping to do with them. If you are ever stuck I would recommend talking to one of them. However, many do tend to suggest their own products rather than other brands, just something to bare in mind. Another place for great information is this group on Facebook, Ex racehorse owners DO NOT have a deathwish! Always extremely helpful and full of different opinions.
I will continue to update this as I learn more, so please add any of your suggestions.