Preparing horses for the sales ring requires correct nutrition, grooming and fitness. Those that are properly prepared will be sound, fit and well developed with shiny coats. Correct preparation often makes the difference between an adequate foal or yearling and a sale topper.
A slow, steady growth rate is desired to avoid development problems such as Developmental Orthopaedic Disease (DOD), associated with rapid growth from over feeding, followed by slow or decreased growth. Thus, it is vital to maintain foals and yearlings at a Body Condition Score of 3 as well, as continually monitoring height and weight changes.
Nutrition and exercise go hand in hand when preparing for the sales ring. High quality forage is the basis of all diets and particular attention needs to be paid to the forage that those being prepped for sales are receiving. A high-quality, high-energy hay is recommended to help meet energy requirements while decreasing the total amount of starch in the diet. However, forage alone will not provide enough energy and essential proteins for youngstock being prepped for sales. The diet must provide high quality proteins for muscle development, amino acids are the building blocks for muscle and the horse must consume 9 essential amino acids in the diet to meet their requirements. It is recommended to provide youngstock with a 14-17% protein feed balanced in macro and microminerals, fat and water-soluble vitamins. Suitable products include Bluegrass; Prep 14 Mix, Foal & Yearling Mix or Stamm 30.
Additional oil supplementation within the diet will help to increase the calorie content and avoid a high grain diet. Feeds such as Turmash or Flax-Plus that are high in Omega Fatty Acids 3 and 6, help to promote weight gain, coat shine and skin health. Omega -3 has also been associated with reducing joint inflammation.
Reducing the starch content of the diet can help to avoid hindgut acidosis often seen in youngstock on high cereal feeds. This can be done by using alternative energy sources through super fibres and fat such as oils or stabilised rice bran e.g., Equi-Jewel. These slow-release energy sources will also contribute towards mannerly behaviour, good attitude, and a flowing walk in the sales ring.
The development of the future racehorse starts during pregnancy, and you should feed the developing foetus, foal, weanling, and yearling well before it comes time to embark on intense sales preparation. Remember, you are preparing a future athlete, not fattening a lamb for market.
Bluegrass Horse Feed provide a free Kentucky Equine Research software called GroTrac that helps to monitor the growth of your foals compared to foals across the world, allowing for issues to be spotted and dietary changes made accordingly. Contact the Bluegrass Horse Feed helpline to speak with one of our nutritional advisors for more information on feeding youngstock and for sales preparation. For an individually formulated diet, head to our website and fill out a diet request form where our team members will create a bespoke diet tailored to your individual horse’s needs.