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Farriers know that there are as many different types of sport horses out there as there are ways to shoe them. The demands that humans place on their animals vary dramatically, from the intense bursts of speed required of a barrel racer or polo pony, to the animated strut of a park-seat Morgan, to the sustained output of an endurance horse or a trail horse working in the Rockies.
All of these activities have one thing in common: they represent more work than the horse would ordinarily choose to do on its own.
That’s not to say they don’t perform for us willingly; horses have been our partners and workers for hundreds of years, and their generosity is one of the most admirable things about the species.
But given their druthers, horses wouldn’t be sprinting anywhere unless a cougar was in pursuit, and they certainly wouldn’t be jumping fences or chasing cattle of there own volition. The work we ask of them represents a level of exertion over and above what their natural diets of gritty, low-quality pasture forages are designed to fuel. That’s why almost all performance horses need a little dietary help in the form of high-energy feeds.
The questions we might ask include: what’s the best way to provide a horse’s muscles, heart and lungs with the “juice” they need without risking colic, founder or a horse that’s bouncing off the walls? Which feeds are the best at delivering energy? Should all performance horses be fed alike…