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While a crucial part of any equine diet, protein has to be viewed in the proper perspective as just one part of a total nutritional package. It provides essential amino acids for the growth and repair of bones, muscles and soft tissues.
Of all the components of nutrition, protein is probably the most misunderstood.
Protein’s role in the diet is to provide amino acids (the building blocks of bones, muscles and soft tissues) for growth and repair. So it’s easy to see why, for many generations, we assumed that the more protein in the diet, the better a horse could perform. But somewhere along the way, many people made the leap from “growth and repair” to “energy source.” But protein, and its component amino acids, is not all that good for providing energy.
What are amino acids good for? A vast array of the horse’s vital processes, including:
That said, the requirement for protein is highest in young growing horses, which are building new tissues as they mature, and in horses being used for breeding. Mature horses being used for pleasure or performance, and those who are essentially pasture potatoes…