Metabolism Research Of Endurance Horses
Increasing stamina in an endurance horse is one of the keys to high performance.
Research developments into the metabolism of endurance horses may prove insightful to increasing stamina in performance.
The study published on the 12th June 2019, found that horses in a 160km endurance race made an effective metabolic switch from carbohydrate consumption to lipid (fat) consumption, but in doing so managed to maintain higher blood glucose levels than horses competing over shorter distances.
Research Findings In Fat Metabolism
The study demonstrates the importance of quality fat sources in the diet for endurance horse performance.
Key points from the research particularly showed glucose sparing to increase speed in the final stages of an endurance race.
- “Metabolic changes observed in parallel lead us to believe that horses of 160km preferentially use the metabolism of fatty acids for muscular functioning and thus save their glucose and avoid fatigue.”
- Glucose was anaerobically metabolised at least during the last minutes of exercise when the riders asked their horses to increase their speed to the finish line.
- Promote the use of lipid (fat) metabolism through appropriate training, dietary measures, and race tactics.
- ”More research is needed to understand metabolic shifts that take place in horses throughout different types of exercise.”
What is a healthy source of fat for horses?
Remember every horse should be treated individually when assessing their nutritional needs. There are many factors that influence their metabolism particularly genetics and environment. What works for one will not necessarily work completely for another.
When looking to increase fat for endurance, a quality oil is a safe and highly beneficial option.
Beware of cooking oils that are chemically processed with high smoke points.
For first timers, introduce oil into the diet at a lower dose, so the horse’s system gets used to digesting. Up to 10% of the total calories can be safely sourced through fat, and the grain portion of the diet can be reduced and replaced with oil.
Why are cooking oils unhealthy for horses?
Cooking oils including rice bran, corn, canola and vegetable oil should be avoided as they are meant for cooking stir frys. They are all low in Omega 3 and high in Omega 6. Many are solvent extracted, unnatural and over processed.
Horses evolved on grass which contains fat in the form of Omega 3 and Omega 6 at a ratio of 4:1, it makes sense to choose Linseed/Flaxseed as the type of oil which is more natural and has a similar Omega profile to grass. It is regarded as the best plant based oil choice for horses by leading nutritionist worldwide.
What is a healthy oil for horses?
CEN Oil is fed successfully to endurance horses around Australia as a cool energy source of extra calories and an Omega 3 boost.
It is a high quality linseed (flaxseed) oil with antioxidants, 100% natural, highly digestible, no chemicals, no fillers and rich in Omega 3.
The many benefits of CEN Oil in the equine diet include:
- Highly digestible in the small intestine (95%)
- Supports healthy coat/skin condition and hoof health
- Can improve behaviour (calming effect)
- No increased laminitis risk
- Safe for horses with Equine Metabolic Syndrome
- Helps alleviate tying-up symptoms
- Safe for the microbiome in the hindgut
- Vitamins: A, D, E & K are absorbed best in the presence of fat (fat soluble)
- Performance advantage – less/delay in lactic acid production
It also offers nearly three times the calories of carbohydrates or protein, and is a great way to help meet energy needs to workload or if an increase in body condition is desired.
Please contact us if you need guidance to help increase stamina in your horse’s performance.
Written by Bryan Meggitt (BMedSc. PGCrtMedSc.)
Biochemist / Senior Scientist and Co-founder of CEN Horse Nutrition
Bryan is a scientist and equine nutrition educator through the nutrition principles of Dr Juliet Getty and Dr Eleanor Kellon.
Bryan is passionate about improving equine health through natural nutrition according to science.