Stress is a term used to describe any activity that disrupts the horse's normal day of standing around in the paddock eating grass and chatting to friends. It includes changing feed, going to shows, having the vet round or even the farrier. It has been shown that any stress can have an effect on the microbiome in the horse's gut leading to changes in the microflora and affecting the health of the horse.
It is a simple fact of life that if we want our horse to perform at its best, we need to feed it well. An underfed horse won't have the energy to perform weekend after weekend during competition season as well as put in the training hours needed for a top finish. Not only will an underfed horse not have the ability to concentrate, but it won't have the stamina to complete a jumps or cross-country course safely. A tired horse could be a danger to the rider and itself.
The majority of horses in New Zealand are usually kept on some sort of restricted pasture - meaning that they live in one or perhaps two paddocks on the same property and are not able to graze extensively like wild ponies. They rely on us for their nutrient intake and to keep them healthy.
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