Feeding the Equine Athlete for Optimum Performance

Getting the best possible performance from an equine athlete requires not just excellent fitness and training (as well as rider skills!) but also excellent feeding and nutrition to fuel the work effort. This article will review some of the key nutrients required for exercise, as well as some feeding guidelines for competition. Fuel for Movement Repeated muscular contraction, as required during exercise, is fueled by adenosine triphosphate (ATP). ATP is produced in the body by a series of metabolic reactions from energetic substrates such as carbohydrates (mostly blood glucose or muscle glycogen, the storage form of glucose in the body) and fats (in the blood from diet or with breakdown of adipose tissue/fat reserves, or fat stored within the muscle). ATP production is dependent both on the fuel type, and how quickly ATP needs to be produced – which is based on the intensity of the exercise. At all times…

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