All performance horse events require an incredible amount of strength and stamina, but few sports demand this to the level of reined cow horse. With a herd, fence and reining run, these horses need to be in the best possible shape and have the mental endurance to compete in three events.
Reined cow horse trainer and 2015 Snaffle Bit Futurity Reserve Champion, Erin Taormino, knows first-hand what it takes to prepare horses for the highest levels. She states: “These horses, they’re such athletes. To be able to hold strong, to do three events...and when you have success in all three events, it’s very rewarding.”
Erin also recognizes that nutrition is a critical component to her horses’ performance. “Nutrition is very important to me,” states Erin, “If we don’t have a good nutrition program, they won’t be able to compete at the levels we’re asking them to and be at the top of their game.”
Keeping weight on horses in rigorous programs, with high physical demands, can also be challenging. These horse’s need a large amount of energy from their feed, while maintaining a calm, focused mind.
The danger of using high-starch grains, sweet feeds, or corn and oats, to meet caloric requirements, is that they’re high in non-structural carbohydrates (NSC). NSC’s quickly converted to glucose - or sugar. Just like people, a horse can get a sugar rush, become excitable and lose focus. “Hot” horses can experience high anxiety levels and become more difficult to train.
Additionally, high starch diets can lead to negative shifts in the microbial populations in the gut and predispose a horse to developing stomach ulcers.
“If I’m not confident that my horses look and feel the best that they can, then I can’t work and prepare them to go show,” says Erin.
“This level of performance is demanding on a horse. From a nutritional standpoint, it takes more than just a basic crude protein, fat, and fiber that most people look for on the feed tag. These horses need high quality ingredient sources that contribute to those tag values, plus proper ratios of critical trace minerals - all in forms that are bioavailable to the horse ” states Dr. Jyme Nichols, Director of Nutrition for Bluebonnet Feeds.
Supplying protein sources with proper levels of amino acids on a daily basis is one of the best ways to enhance muscle quality and reduce recovery time between events. Feeds that contain healthy fat sources improve endurance and add bloom and a glossy shine to your horse, without making them excitable. Finally, quality fiber sources are essential for helping your horse maintain a stable and healthy microbial population in the gut.
Erin Taormino feeds the Horseman’s Elite Mare & Foal, which contains healthy fats, pre and probiotics, plus the balanced vitamin and mineral levels that your horse needs. Erin has also experienced a bonus benefit from this specific feed: “We switched to this feed because the pellet is a larger pellet, so some of my horses eat it better. They can grab it, and pick it out of the shavings if they dump their buckets. I don’t feel like we have any waste.”
Dr. Jyme Nichols says,“Some people get confused by the name Mare & Foal thinking you can only feed this to mares and growing horses, but this formulation actually matches the needs of high end performance horses like Erin’s.”
“When my horses feel good, they feel strong and healthy. They give me 100%. They’re willing, and they never quit,” says trainer Erin Taormino.
Bluebonnet Feeds understands that each operation is different, and what works for one may not work for another. Therefore, a team of nutrition consultants are available for free evaluations of horses and programs, whether that be on the farm, over the phone or through a free virtual nutrition consult.
Visit BluebonnetFeeds.com for webinars, blogs, and podcasts devoted to improving education around equine nutrition.