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Care for Performance Horses vs. Pleasure Horses

Perhaps you’ve been keeping trail horses or pleasure horses for some time. Now, you want to move into serious competition. Performance horses have different needs than what you are used to with pleasure horses. Bridgerland Cache Animal Hospital in Logan, UT, lists some of these differences you need to know.

Feeding Differences

Performance horses burn far more energy than pleasure horses. They need more electrolytes, since they lose them quickly through training and competition. Electrolytes can often be added to water or feed. Horses working or training heavily may need two and a half times more protein, vitamins and minerals than pleasure horses. Talk to your veterinarian about crafting the best diet for your horse’s new needs.

Shoeing Differences

Many pleasure horses don’t have shoes or only have shoes on the front feet, since the front feet often take more weight than the hind. Some performance horses don’t need shoes, even racehorses, but the demanding nature and firm footing of arenas, endurance competitions, or tracks demand shoes to protect the hooves and legs from the constant pounding. Shoes on performance horses often need changing more often than on pleasure horses. Performance horses arguably have a talent for losing their shoes more than pleasure horses.

Tying Up

Horses can cramp up after exertion to the point where they cannot be used. Rhabdomyolysis, or tying up syndrome, is a mysterious condition with no known cause, although there are many theories. It seems to run in some thoroughbred families and affects fillies more than colts because of hormones.

Tying up can happen in pleasure horses, but it happens more often in performance horses. Tying up can sometimes be prevented with diet changes and medication given 90 minutes before exercise. The performance horse also needs some form of exercise every day. Even one day of total stall rest may trigger tying up.

We Know You Have Questions

Living with horses is a never-ending process of learning. If you have questions about any aspect of caring for your horse and live in the Logan, UT area, contact Bridgerland Cache Animal Hospital by emailing [email protected] or by calling (435) 752-2151 to make an appointment today.