Any horse that is put under stenuous work, whether it be in the sport of eventing, dressage, racing, barrel racing, ranch work, etc., is considered a performance horse. These horses use a great deal of energy to perform their work and in doing so, they may require special nutrition.


Although exact requirements for vitamins and minerals have not yet been defined, it is known that some vitamins are important for tissue health.

  • Vitamin A is necessary for healthy hooves and night vision and some studies suggest heavy exercise increases the need

  • B Vitamins are needed for energy metabolism, so if a horse is using a great deal of energy (i.e. racing), it would be prudent to increase vitamin B levels

  • Vitamin E is important for reproduction and muscle metabolism

  • Vitamin D is vital for calcium metabolism, but too much can lead to calcification of the soft tissues

  • Calcium and phosphorus are necessary to build and maintain strong bones

    • Older horses in training need less than younger horses in training

  • Sodium and Chlorine help the acid-base balance and help maintain osmotic pressure

  • Iodine is important to regulate metobolic rate

  • Selenium is required for muscle integrity, so it is important for performance horses and muscle health - however, required selenium levels are very low so it is important to not overfeed


These are general guidelines and it should be remembered that horse’s needs vary per horse. Tables below show the amount of most vitamins and minerals a performance horse should receive each day. These values can change with changes in activity, so it is important to monitor activity and create a plan on off-days or off-periods of time. As with any horse, please consult your veterinarian.


Equine Section, Department of Animal Sciences. “Nutrition of the Performance Horse.” Cooperative Extension Services, University of Kentucky - College of Agriculture. ASC-113.







Tables above adapted from: Pusillo, Gary. “Vitamin and Mineral Allowances for the Performance Horse.” The Equine Athlete, vol. 3, no. 6, 1990,

Light - Intense Work


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