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Discipline: LD/Endurance, CMO, Trail Rider, Cartoonist, Writer, Co-Director/ Green Bean Endurance
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December 17, 2008

An article on the timing of feed for exercise.

I have just finished reading an article on the timing of feed for exercise published in the World Equine Veterinary Review/ Vol. 5: No.3: 2000

This is my simplistic mental breakdown of the article that is geared to folks that are a WHOLE LOT SMARTER than me.

#1. Walking is aerobic, and burns up stored fats, and does not have much of an impact on glycemic response. Remember your LSD training which builds bone, and tendon, and will not need any special supplementation for the energy store and release involved.

#2. Trotting and cantering burns glycogen + fat (though a horse conditioned to trotting can do so aerobically eventually). Hill work will tip the horse into anaerobic work.

#3. As speed increases fat stores cannot be metabolized fast enough to supply energy demands. Galloping in anaerobic phase, draws on fats, glucose, and triglycerides, leading to lactic acid build up & fatigue.

#4. Pre-ride you should avoid feeds (within 4 hours prior to endurance competition) that cause a very high glycemic response. Products that claim to "glycogen load" are questionable in their use.

#5. Feed the hind gut, before, during, and after a ride. Offer a high glycemic meal to the endurance horse the night before a ride, then supply good quality forage at every opportunity pre-ride, at holds, and post ride. Avoid feeding grains (high glycemic feeds) in the 4 hour pre-ride window. Feeding a grain ration immediately prior to exercise should not disrupt fat utilization because the exercise that immediately follows will depress the release of insulin due to elevated epinepherine.

The article is a good read, though pretty technical. The needs of an endurance horse are different than a race horse, or 3 day event horse, or your typical pleasure trail horse. Of course horses are like people, their needs and responses will vary based on their own metabolic responses to feed and exercise. What I am taking from this article for myself is to feed her a good meal the evening prior to a ride, but the morning of to load her up with good quality forage such as alfalfa, orchard grass, timothy hay for fiber, giving a supplemental Omega rich fat, and then a quick snack just before we leave. We will try this for our next ride and see how it affects her energy levels and overall "mood".

Her weight maintenance is a separate issue. ~E.G.

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