Could oil supplements support horses under intense training?
Oil-rich dietary supplements and concentrates have been developed to meet nutrient requirements, improving antioxidant capacity due to high omega 3 and 6 contents. However, they can reduce food intake and faecal production, extend muscle glycogen recovery time, as well as reduce body temperature elevation and exercise-induced water needs.
This study aimed to evaluate the effects of increasing dietary fat concentration in feed via oil supplementation on blood biomarkers in horses under intense training. In the study, 16 Campolina gaited horses underwent intense training and received isocaloric dietary supplementation and free access to fresh grass, salt and water. The control group received an ordinary concentrate (3.5% fat) and the supplemented group was fed 1.0 kg of the supplement (18% fat) plus the ordinary concentrate. Blood samples were collected before and after 4 and 8 weeks of supplementation, including CBC, glucose, total protein, triglycerides, total cholesterol, HDL, LDL and non-esterified fatty acids (NEFA) analysis.
The supplemented group showed significantly elevated levels of NEFA, red blood cells and haematocrit. While the control group showed high triglyceride concentrations. Both showed reduced plasma protein concentrations. However, body condition score, glucose and cholesterol did not vary throughout the experiment. Thus, oil-rich diets could benefit horses that perform an aerobic exercise by increasing antioxidant capacity as well as saving glucose levels by utilizing high energy sourced from fat.
Expert opinion by Shirley Ferber
The use of oil to complement energy requirements and improve performance could be a safer, healthier solution for a growing energy need in equine sports. Although more studies are required, this method could be used under careful management and consultation with your Vet and/or Nutritionist.
> From: Manso Filho et al., ACTA VET. BRNO 88 (2019) 25–31. All rights reserved to Journal of the University of Veterinary and Pharmaceutical Sciences in Brno, Czech Republic. Click here for the online summary.