Built for speed and endurance, horses are a force of nature. There’s a reason we rate engine output in terms of “horsepower.” Because they’re so powerful, few other animals on earth are put to the test like racehorses. The best in their class can run at a top speed of 55 miles per hour.
But pushing a horse to its limits without proper conditioning is a recipe for trouble. Leg injuries are common in horseracing, and a broken leg can mean the end of an animal’s career.
Racehorse speed is not only a matter of nature (the animal’s biology), but also nurture (how well the horse is cared for). Here’s how to keep your racehorse in top form:
Optimize Their Diet
Horses turn grass, hay, and oats into solid muscle. The key is finding the right nutrient balance. Too much forage could weigh the animal down and affect his performance. Too much starch can lead to issues like colic. Consult with an expert to determine the best balance of foods for your racehorse based on his size, weight, energy needs, and fitness/conditioning regimen. Simple, natural foods are best. Investing in quality food will deliver the best performance returns.
Develop an Exercise Plan
Like any athlete, racehorses need a tailored training plan to prepare for competitions and to stay in shape year-round. Seek out a reputable training stable to create a personalized exercise plan for your racehorse. A good plan will help the horse build up its strength, speed, and endurance gradually, with proper warmups and cooldowns to prevent injury.
Groom Them Daily
Daily grooming sessions will help you get a close-up look at your horse’s body condition and allow you to spot skin problems, hoof issues, cuts, swelling, and infection. It’s also an opportunity to bond with your horse and give him much-deserved pampering—and handlers who establish a bond with their racehorse tend to see better performance.
Get Regular Vet Checkups
Don’t wait until there’s a problem to call a vet. As the saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Schedule regular vet checkups with an equine veterinarian who has a working knowledge of racehorse health. Your vet can help spot problems you may not notice. The vet can also recommend vitamins or supplements to improve your horse’s health and performance.
Use Vibration Therapy
Bone strength is critical for racehorses. Breaks or fractures can put a racehorse out of work for good. Regular exercise and training are great for building bone strength, but you can give your racehorse an extra edge with vibration therapy. Research has found that just 10 minutes of vibration therapy a day for 10 days can increase bone density (human study) and improve muscle power, blood circulation, acceleration, and flexibility in horses. Whole body vibration for horses has also been shown to reduce stress. Vitafloor pioneered the first horse vibration plate system to help horses recover faster from injuries and improve their performance.
Let Them Rest After a Race
Your racehorse needs proper rest and after-race care. A period of rest gives your horse’s muscles the time they need to self-repair. Make sure the horse has a clean, dry stable with soft, absorbent bedding. Good sleep is vital for recovery. Allow four to five days of recovery time between races, with one or two post-race workouts between races to keep your horse in good condition.
Providing the right care for your racehorse will keep him healthy, happy, and performing like a champion. Vitafloor USA makes industry-leading equine products and equipment. Browse our online shop to see our complete line of quality products.