What does it take to be the star of the Grand National or Kentucky Derby? Take a look at what we’ve discovered about race horse eating habits and what makes them top performers.
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If you’re a fan of horse racing, no doubt you do your due diligence before you go making any bet. Maybe you’re just interested in the lives of race horses. Maybe you are thinking of investing in a race horse of your own. All these roads lead to you here, to this guide to the dietary requirements of a race horse. What is it that makes a horse get to that finish line first? What does it take to be the star of the Grand National or Kentucky Derby? Well, we have answers. Take a look at what we’ve discovered about race horse eating habits and what makes them top performers.
Why is a race horse’s diet important?
Much like the human body, a race horse body will only give out as good as you give to it. This means that a race horse needs a lot of important nutrients to perform at their best. The focus is giving the horse enough energy to compete, which means they are often fed a mix of fast and slow-release energy so that they can release it as needed in their rigorous training. If you are interested in horse race betting, you might want to look into the lifestyle of your favourite horse to be sure they’re being fed well.
So, what do they eat?
A race horse’s diet is designed to offer up a healthy mix of fat, protein, fibre and starch. Most of these nutrients come from a combination of forage and oats, including grass and hay, oats, corn, and barley.
Luckily enough, your average horse naturally grazes for around 17 hours a day, eating up to 2- 3% of their own body weight in graze and hay, which is helpful for gaining the nutrients they need when they need them. However, a race horse has a much stricter diet, following a plan put forth by their owner. They also need a much higher amount of food in the same way a pro athlete would consume a lot more food that is high in relevant nutrients. They need as much as 35,000 calories a day, which is almost twice as much as a typical horse.
What does a race horse drink?
Well, that’s simple: water. But it might interest you to know just how much water a race horse will need. In fact, it’s important to know that they will need around double what an inactive horse in a cool environment might need. A race horse is likely to sweat six to eight gallons of water while training and sweating it all out, so it needs to be replenished with 20 gallons a day, whereas typical horses need as little as seven to ten gallons in a day.
It's also important to make sure that the water you are feeding your horse is clean, as horses are snooty. They’d simply rather not drink it. Make sure the supply of water to your race horse is clean to keep them drinking.
This is all obviously important for many reasons. Water is an important aspect of horse health for all the same reasons as humans: temperature regulation, metabolic processes, protecting joints and organs and bringing nutrients to cells.
What about the jockey?
Jockeys also have to keep to a strict diet that includes plenty of water, fibre, protein, and healthy fats. However, you will also find jockeys sucking on jelly sweets in between breaks in training or races thanks to the fact that they might need a sugar rush for an extra burst of energy to get through the next round of training.