What’s the diet of a racehorse?
The average thoroughbred racehorse weighs in at around 1,100lb and, ideally, should consume about 2.5% of its own body weight, or approximately two stone of foodstuff, every day to maintain its optimum weight. Racehorses can be considered elite athletes and, as such, require a diet high in fat, fibre, protein and starch to keep them healthy and performing to the best of their ability. In addition, they must supplement their calorie intake with plenty of clear, fresh water, typically between five and ten gallons, every day.
Of course, grass is the most natural foodstuff for horses, but racehorses work hard and often have only limited access to pasture forage, or hay, so typically require dietary supplements to meet their calorie demands. Oats, alone, are low in calcium, but high in phosphorus, which inhibits calcium absorption, such that prolonged overfeeding can lead to a condition known as secondary hyperparathyroidism. Consequently, oats are fed as part of a balanced diet, alongside grass, hay, other grains, such as corn and barley, sugar beet pulp and vitamin supplements. Racehorses are typically fed three times a day, early in the morning, before work, mid-morning and late in the afternoon.