Most horses that turn 20 and over can be considered strong racing prospects. However many more that reach the top-ten are very thin (4 or less pounds), and will have very little ability to run fast.
The first step in gaining weight is usually a physical exercise class, such as a sprint, an off-road course, or a full-on race to gain the weight necessary to run fast in competition, which makes weight gain a slow and hard adjustment once you become used to it. This process also involves taking several weeks off from the sport to regroup with loved ones, to see friends and family while you regain body weight and get back to your racing routine.
Once you get into a consistent routine, it can take around four months to go from a 4 pound weight to 8-10 pounds.
How much weight can a horse eat?
The answer to this question is determined by several factors. The total daily calorie intake of the horse (and the amount of feed that the horse eats) will determine your ideal daily calorie intake for a horse that reaches the age of 20.
If the horse’s normal daily intake is between 900 and 1,200 calories then all of the weight gain will come from that excess (900-1,200 calories).
With that in mind, weight gain based on the amount of weight the horse eats is not too critical. The important aspect of weight gain is the proportion of food that is gained off the ground (i.e. not from the stomach or intestines), and this requires a reasonable amount of control of calories for the time of year when the horse is racing.
As an example, let’s say your horse reaches a weight of 10 pounds at age 20, and is eating around 2-2.5 pounds of feed (that’s the difference between the daily total of food and feed ingested) a day. At this weight, the horse would consume approximately 600 calories a day. That’s the same amount to which an adult can eat over two days every week, so 600 calories a day is sufficient to gain weight for the horse for a period of 5-6 months – enough time for the horse to acclimate to the new weight.
As the horses age, their body composition changes to the point where a lot more body fat is developed than when the horse was a year old, and the horse’s metabolism slows to a noticeable crawl, leading to a slower pace, a reduced average starting speed, and eventually lower
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