Thoroughbred Times April
Excerpted from "Training Tips"
Getting a horse to come out of a race in good shape requires
pre- and post-race planning
by Tom Ivers
More often than not, the core temperature
of your horse's body is going to soar over 104 degrees
during and after a race, especially in hot, wet weather,
and if there is no warm down. It is worse if all the hard
workouts have been in the cool early morning and the horse
has not been acclimated to hard work in higher temperatures.
The symptoms of overheating are agitation in the stall
after the race, going off feed for a few days, and loose
bowels with accompanying dehydration.
One possible solution to this problem is the introduction
to the nutrition of an additive containing gut flora,
the bugs that help the horse digest his feed. When core
temperatures overload, these flora are killed off, and
digestive upset results. There are many products designed
to reapply lactobacillus and other flora. These products
include Snap Back and Accel, a product manufactured by
Vita-Flex which also contains branched-chain amino acids.
Above all, recovery is best supported by a complete,
balanced, and sufficient grain ration. It is a mistake
to rely on hay to provide much nutrition in high-performance
horses. Nor can you stuff enough plain oats into a horse
to get adequate carbohydrate delivery. Your best bet is
a commercially prepared sweet feed with balanced electrolytes
and micronutrients. With such a mix, you can then add
just a topping or two to pick up missing ingredients -
some amino acids, gut flora, anti-oxidant vitamins, etc.
A deficient ration supplemented by an entire laboratory
of exotic additives is not the solution.
If you have a scale in your barn, one of the best ways
to determine the rate of recovery of your horse is to
watch how long it takes for the horse to gain back his
racing weight. He will lose anywhere from 25-to-40 pounds
in a race, and when that is regained, he is likely ready
to roll again. If you suspect severe muscle damage has
occurred, blood tests that look at muscle enzyme levels
of CPK, LDH, and SGOT will tell you a lot about the rate
Tom Ivers is an exercise physiologist who has written
six books on training. He is presently training horses
for a private stable in Washington state.