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Identifying working levels in horses


Identifying Working levels in horses is quite crucial for their sustenance. Aligning a nutrition plan for your horses according to their workload can prevent serious health problems and maximise productivity.


Determining the horse’s workload can be a challenging task as it is common for an equestrian trainer or owner to measure it. It is essential to include essential quality protein, vitamins and minerals to support the work, lifestyle and general well-being of your horse.


If a horse has minimal to no work, it would not require a higher amount of calories as it doesn’t have the means to burn it. For light exercising horses, a calm performer meal can be the perfect fit. You can find calm performer horse feed at Dave’s pet and garden supplies.

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When you move up into the workload ladder, you begin to realise that you would be requiring a certain set of nutrients to achieve a balanced diet. Many diets propose a feeding rate based on the horse’s body weight and the amount of work he or she is doing. When a horse’s workload is underestimated and subsequently overfed, the horse will gain weight. Weight loss is caused by underfeeding.

Levels of work:


The Nutrient Requirements of Horses report from the National Research Council specifies four work levels and explains how to calculate your horse’s workload:


  • Light Work: A horse that works around three hours of work per week. The average movement of a light working horse can be traced to the following: 40% walk, 50% trot and 10% canter. This includes trail or pleasure riding, early stages of horse training or occasional work. This depends on a variety of factors but it is important to be realistic about your figures.
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  • Moderate work: A horse that works around 5 hours a week can be categorized as a moderate working horse. The average movement of a moderate working horse can be calculated as 30% walk, 55% trot and 10% canter. It could also constitute a 5% low jump. Trail horses, horses in the early phases of training, show horses, dressage, campdraft, polo, stock work, cutting horses, showjumpers, and low-level eventers are all examples of this. Again, they are only guidelines. If you’re undertaking dressage training, two and a half hours of trotting per week means you’re still working at a reasonable level!


  • Heavy work is a horse that works for four to five hours every week. This consists of a 20 per cent walk, 50 per cent trot, 10% canter, 15% gallop, and other skill exercises like leaping. Stock horses, polo, high-level dressage and show jumping, medium-level eventing, and race training are all examples of this.
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  • Very Heavy/Intense work: Racehorses, elite 3-day eventers, and endurance horses are the only ones who can do it. Their job varies, ranging from one hour of speed work each week to six to twelve hours of sluggish work. Throughout the day, their average heartbeat will be between 110 and 150 beats per minute. We recommend a low GI formula such as Barastoc Speedi-Beet for the maximum output from your horses.


Dave’s Pet and Garden Supplies is a family-owned business that puts its customers at the forefront of everything they do.



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