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[RC] Carbohydrates During a Ride - Bruce Weary DC

Hi Crysta--
All good questions, and probably the same questions on a lot of people's minds. You keep the glucose levels up within a good range for work by frequent feedings of carbs--grain, carrots, sweet feeds, molasses, glycogen powders, whatever. The insulin levels rise, as they're supposed to, in response to the increase in the blood sugar levels. The blood sugar levels in a working horse, must be kept up, and not allowed to drop to levels that cause work intolerance. The blood sugar levels drop as a result of two main factors: 1) The horse has used his glucose by doing work, and 2) He isn't replenishing his glucose enough by eating carbs. The reason that many horses have "highs and lows" can be because they use up a lot of their glucose (or other necessities like electrolytes and water) and aren't given the chance to replenish them often enough. When glucose is the limiting factor, the liver will sometimes kick in and release some glycogen and the horse seems to sort of come out of it for a while.Your idea of a 1 lb baggie of grain every hour or two is an excellent way to start, along with some carrots which have some sugar, water and fiber in them. I really like the compressed energy bars sold by the Platinum Performance people, too. They have significant carbs, protein and electrolytes in them and a horse can eat one in a matter of seconds. Feeding the grain by hand can take a little time, but you will have more horse for having done it. At a vet check, I lay out a smorgasbord, but I try to get them to eat a good meal of wet grain, and then top off the tank with wet alfalfa or whatever hay they will eat. You could do the same with grain first and then beet pulp. Or just mix them, but heavy on the grain. And keep this up throughout the ride. Those riders who do this, including myself, KNOW that they have more horse all the way to the finish line, with better recoveries, and better eating and drinking skills. Tom Ivers explained to me that the horse's appetite isn't suppressed by eating grain. On the contrary, since their glucose levels are up, he feels good, and his appetite is maintained. Horses that don't feel good are less likely to eat, as we all know. "It's like Chinese food," he said."They just want to keep eating." And IMO, there is nothing that warms the cockles of the heart of an endurance rider more, than to see his or her horse eat voraciously throughout a ride, eh? Dr Q, world renowned eater


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