In the dynamic world of equine nutrition, one name reigns supreme: Kentucky Equine Research. With a global presence and a wealth of expertise, they have earned the title of World Leaders in Equine Nutrition. Through their innovative research and dedication to equine health, Kentucky Equine Research has established themselves as an authority in the field, profoundly impacting the well-being and performance of horses worldwide. This informative video, presented by Kentucky Equine Research themselves, delves into their unrivaled knowledge and the key role they play in revolutionizing the way we nourish and care for our beloved equine companions. Embark on this enlightening journey to uncover the secrets behind their success and gain valuable insights into the world of equine nutrition.

Table of Contents

Understanding Equine Nutrition

Fundamentals of Equine Nutrition

Equine nutrition refers to the study of the dietary needs of horses and the role that nutrients play in their overall health and performance. Proper nutrition is crucial for the wellbeing of horses, as it affects their growth, reproduction, immune function, and athletic performance.

Horses are herbivores and their natural diet consists of grazing on grass and consuming roughage. However, domesticated horses often have different dietary requirements due to factors such as their level of activity, age, and health conditions. In order to meet these specific needs, horse owners need to have a good understanding of equine nutrition.

Importance of Nutrition in Horse Health

Nutrition plays a vital role in maintaining the health and wellbeing of horses. A well-balanced diet ensures that horses receive all the essential nutrients they need for proper growth and development. It enhances their immune system, making them more resistant to diseases and infections.

Proper nutrition is especially important for performance horses. Athletes require optimal nutrition to support their energy needs, muscle development, and overall performance. Inadequate nutrition can lead to poor athletic performance, loss of muscle mass, and decreased stamina.

Moreover, nutrition also plays a crucial role in the reproductive health of horses. Proper nutrients are necessary for the successful breeding, pregnancy, and lactation of mares. Adequate nutrition during these stages ensures the healthy development of foals and supports the mare’s overall health during and after pregnancy.

Common Equine Dietary Requirements

Horses require a balanced diet that consists of the following key nutrients:

  1. Protein: Protein is essential for the growth, repair, and maintenance of tissues in horses. It is particularly important for young horses and those in heavy training.

  2. Carbohydrates: Carbohydrates, in the form of fiber and starches, provide the main source of energy for horses. Fiber is especially important for the proper functioning of the horse’s digestive system.

  3. Vitamins: Horses require various vitamins, including vitamins A, D, E, and B-complex vitamins, for optimal health and wellbeing. These vitamins are involved in numerous metabolic processes and play a crucial role in the immune system.

  4. Minerals: Minerals such as calcium, phosphorus, potassium, and magnesium are necessary for strong bones, muscle function, and overall health. Horses also require trace minerals like zinc, copper, and selenium in smaller quantities for various metabolic processes.

  5. Water: Adequate hydration is vital for horses to maintain their health and performance. Horses should have access to clean, fresh water at all times.

  6. Fats: While horses can meet their energy needs through carbohydrates and proteins, fats can also be an additional source of energy. It can be particularly useful for horses in heavy training or needing to gain weight.

By understanding these dietary requirements, horse owners can ensure that their horses receive a well-balanced diet that meets their specific needs.

Overview of Kentucky Equine Research

History of Kentucky Equine Research

Kentucky Equine Research (KER) was founded in 1988 with the mission to advance the science and understanding of equine nutrition. It was established in the heart of the Bluegrass region of central Kentucky, known for its rich equestrian heritage. Over the years, KER has gained a reputation as a global leader in equine nutrition research.

Kentucky Equine Research’s Role in Advancing Equine Nutrition

KER has been instrumental in developing innovative nutritional products and conducting cutting-edge research to improve equine health. Through extensive studies, KER has enhanced our understanding of horse diets and has developed practical solutions to address the nutritional needs of horses in different stages of their lives and levels of activity.

The research conducted by KER has contributed significantly to the field of equine nutrition and has paved the way for advancements in horse feeding practices. Their work has not only benefited individual horse owners but has also had a broader impact on the overall health and wellbeing of horses worldwide.

Pioneering Research Work of Kentucky Equine Research

KER is well-known for its pioneering research in various areas of equine nutrition. Their studies have encompassed the evaluation of different feedstuffs, the development of specialized feeds for specific needs, and the formulation of innovative nutritional supplements.

One area of focus for KER has been studying the effect of nutrition on horse performance. Their researchers have explored how different dietary factors impact a horse’s athletic ability, stamina, and recovery. The findings from these studies have resulted in the development of tailored feeding programs for performance horses, ensuring that they receive the optimal nutrition necessary for success.

Another significant contribution by KER has been in the area of mare and foal nutrition. They have conducted extensive research on the nutritional requirements of pregnant and lactating mares, as well as the developmental needs of foals. This research has improved the understanding of the critical stages of equine reproduction and has provided valuable insights into providing appropriate nutrition for breeding horses.

The innovative research work carried out by KER has positioned them as leaders in equine nutrition, and their breakthroughs continue to shape the industry.

Kentucky Equine Research’s Core Nutritional Products

Analyzing High-Quality Horse Feed

One of the core focuses of KER is to ensure that horse owners have access to high-quality feed options. They have developed a range of horse feeds specifically formulated to meet the nutritional needs of horses in different life stages and levels of activity.

KER analyzes various aspects of horse feed, including ingredient quality, nutrient composition, and digestibility. By conducting rigorous testing, KER ensures that their feeds provide the necessary nutrients in the appropriate amounts, promoting optimal health and performance in horses.

Necessary Supplements for a Horse’s Diet

In addition to their quality feeds, KER also offers a range of nutritional supplements that address specific needs of horses. These supplements are designed to target areas such as joint health, digestion, hoof strength, immune support, and overall wellbeing.

KER’s supplements are backed by scientific research and are formulated to provide the essential nutrients that may be lacking in a horse’s diet. By adding these supplements to a horse’s feeding regime, owners can ensure their horses receive the necessary nutrients for optimal health and performance.

Innovative Nutritional Solutions

KER constantly strives to develop innovative nutritional solutions to address the evolving needs of horses. Their team of scientists and nutritionists invests significant time and resources in research and development to stay at the forefront of equine nutrition.

From specialized feeds to targeted supplements, KER continues to provide horse owners with innovative products that contribute to the overall health and wellbeing of their horses. Through their commitment to research and development, KER has earned a reputation as a trusted provider of advanced equine nutritional solutions.

Global Reach of Kentucky Equine Research

Global Operations of Kentucky Equine Research

Kentucky Equine Research’s influence extends far beyond the borders of the United States. Their commitment to advancing equine nutrition has led to the establishment of a global presence. They operate internationally, with offices and research facilities in Australia, Europe, and Latin America.

By having a global presence, KER is able to actively engage with horse owners, trainers, and researchers worldwide. This allows KER to gain a comprehensive understanding of the diverse nutritional needs of horses across different regions and climates. It also ensures that their research is applicable and relevant to horses in various parts of the world.

Pivotal International Collaborations

KER recognizes the value of collaboration in advancing equine nutrition. They actively collaborate with leading international research institutes, universities, and industry experts who share their passion for equine health.

These collaborations enable KER to leverage expertise from various fields and incorporate diverse perspectives into their research. By working together, they are able to push the boundaries of equine nutrition further and make significant strides in improving the wellbeing of horses worldwide.

Influence of Kentucky Equine Research’s Science on Global Horse Health

The scientific breakthroughs achieved by KER have had a profound impact on the global horse health community. Their research findings and nutritional recommendations have been embraced by horse owners, trainers, and veterinarians across the world.

The work of KER has contributed to the development of standardized feeding practices that promote optimal nutrition and overall wellbeing in horses. Their science-based approach has helped debunk myths and misconceptions surrounding equine nutrition, ensuring that horse owners are equipped with accurate information to make informed decisions about their horse’s diet.

Through their educational initiatives, publications, and seminars, KER continues to disseminate their knowledge and findings to a wide audience. This ongoing commitment to education has empowered horse owners, professionals, and enthusiasts to prioritize equine nutrition and make informed choices for the health and performance of their horses.

Other Noteworthy Leaders in Equine Nutrition

Cargill Incorporated’s Contributions

Cargill Incorporated is a company that has made significant contributions to the field of equine nutrition. They are a global manufacturer and marketer of animal feed and agricultural products, including specialized feeds for horses.

Cargill has developed a wide range of horse feeds that cater to different nutritional needs and performance demands. They prioritize ingredient quality, digestibility, and nutrient composition in the formulation of their feeds, ensuring that horses receive the necessary nutrients for optimal health and performance.

Through research and collaboration with experts in the field, Cargill continues to innovate and expand their product line, supporting the nutritional needs of horses around the world.

Leveraging Nutritional Innovations by Purina Mills

Purina Mills, a subsidiary of Land O’Lakes Inc., is known for its commitment to providing high-quality animal feeds. They have made significant contributions to equine nutrition and continue to leverage nutritional innovations to support the health and wellbeing of horses.

Purina Mills has developed a range of specialized equine feeds that are tailored to the specific needs of different horses. They prioritize scientific research, ingredient quality, and feed safety in the formulation of their feeds, ensuring that horses receive optimal nutrition.

With a strong focus on equine performance, Purina Mills offers feeds that support the energy requirements of athletic horses, promote muscle development, and enhance overall performance. Their dedication to nutritional innovation has positioned them as a trusted provider of quality feed options for horses.

Land O’Lakes Inc: A Major Force in Equine Nutrition

Land O’Lakes Inc. is a leading agricultural cooperative that plays a significant role in the field of equine nutrition. Through their subsidiary companies, such as Purina Mills, they have made substantial contributions to enhancing the nutritional well-being of horses.

Land O’Lakes Inc. invests in research and development to formulate feeds that meet the dietary requirements of horses in different life stages and levels of activity. Their commitment to quality and innovation has earned them a strong reputation in the equine industry.

By combining their expertise in animal nutrition with their dedication to sustainability, Land O’Lakes Inc. continues to be a major force in equine nutrition, providing horse owners with reliable feed options to support the health and performance of their horses.

Emerging Trends in Equine Nutrition

The Rise of Organic and Natural Equine Diets

With the growing interest in natural and organic products, the equine nutrition industry has seen a rise in demand for organic and natural equine diets. Horse owners are increasingly seeking out feed options that are free from synthetic additives, GMOs, and pesticides.

Organic and natural equine diets aim to provide horses with minimally processed, whole-food ingredients that are closer to their natural diet. These diets often include high-quality grass hay, forage, and carefully selected grains. They prioritize ingredient quality, sustainability, and environmental impact.

While the scientific evidence supporting the benefits of organic and natural diets is still limited, many horse owners have reported improved coat quality, digestion, and overall health when transitioning their horses to such diets. As demand continues to grow, equine nutrition companies are developing feed options that cater to this niche market.

Essential Oils in Equine Nutrition

The use of essential oils in equine nutrition has gained popularity in recent years. Essential oils are concentrated plant extracts that are believed to offer various health benefits when used in small quantities.

When used appropriately, essential oils can support the overall well-being of horses through their calming properties, immune-boosting effects, and potential anti-inflammatory benefits. They can be incorporated into a horse’s diet, applied topically, or diffused in the stable environment.

However, it is important to note that essential oils should be used under the guidance of a qualified equine professional. Some oils can be toxic to horses or may have adverse effects if used incorrectly. Horse owners should consult with veterinarians or equine nutritionists to ensure the safe and proper use of essential oils in equine nutrition.

DNA-Based Personalized Equine Diets

Advancements in technology have opened up new possibilities for personalized equine nutrition. DNA-based testing is becoming increasingly popular as a tool to tailor diets to an individual horse’s specific genetic makeup.

By analyzing a horse’s genetic profile, DNA-based testing can identify potential nutritional deficiencies, intolerances, and sensitivities. This information can then be used to create customized feeding programs that address the specific needs of each horse.

DNA-based personalized equine diets have numerous potential benefits, including improved nutrient utilization, enhanced overall health, and optimization of performance potential. However, it is important to note that the field of personalized equine nutrition is still in its early stages, and further research is needed to fully understand its impact and effectiveness.

Equine Nutritional Research: Past, Present, and Future

Major Landmarks in Equine Nutritional Research

Throughout history, there have been several major landmarks in the field of equine nutritional research. These milestones have significantly contributed to our understanding of equine nutrition and have paved the way for advancements in horse feeding practices.

One such landmark was the discovery of the essential amino acids required by horses. This breakthrough helped horse owners ensure that their horses were receiving the necessary proteins for growth and overall health.

Another significant milestone was the recognition of the importance of vitamins and minerals in horse diets. Research has shown that deficiencies or imbalances of these nutrients can have detrimental effects on horse health. Understanding the specific needs of horses for vitamins and minerals has led to the development of balanced diets and nutritional supplements.

The introduction of modern analytical techniques has also been a significant milestone in equine nutritional research. These techniques allow for the detailed analysis of feed composition, nutrient digestibility, and metabolic processes in horses. This has greatly enhanced our ability to formulate diets that meet the precise nutritional requirements of horses.

Current Areas of Focus in Equine Nutrition

In current equine nutritional research, there are several key areas of focus that are shaping the future of horse feeding practices. Some of these areas include:

  1. Gut health: Research on the equine gut microbiome has revealed the intricate relationship between gut health, overall health, and performance in horses. Understanding the role of gut bacteria and their functional impact on digestion and metabolism can lead to more effective feeding strategies.

  2. Nutritional support for specific health conditions: Equine nutritional researchers are investigating the potential benefits of targeted nutrition for specific health conditions, such as metabolic disorders, joint health, and respiratory issues. By identifying specific nutritional interventions, they aim to enhance the overall quality of life for horses with these conditions.

  3. Feed processing and nutrient availability: Researchers are exploring how different processing methods affect the availability and digestibility of nutrients in horse feed. By optimizing feed processing techniques, they aim to maximize nutrient utilization and improve the efficiency of feed conversion in horses.

  4. Feeding strategies for senior horses: As horses age, their nutritional needs change. Researchers are examining the specific nutritional requirements of senior horses to develop feeding strategies that support their health, maintain body condition, and improve overall longevity.

Anticipated Future Developments in Equine Nutrition

The field of equine nutrition is continually evolving, and there are several anticipated future developments that may shape the way we feed horses:

  1. Precision nutrition: As technology advances, there is a growing potential for personalized and precision nutrition for horses. DNA-based testing and other diagnostic tools may play a more significant role in tailoring diets to individual horses’ specific needs.

  2. Nutrigenomics: Nutrigenomics explores the interaction between nutrition and gene expression. Research in this field aims to uncover how specific nutrients affect gene expression and how this can be harnessed to optimize horse health and performance.

  3. Sustainable feeding practices: With increasing environmental concerns, there is a growing emphasis on developing sustainable feeding practices for horses. Researchers are exploring alternative feed sources, such as insects and algae, as well as investigating ways to reduce the environmental impact of feed production and waste management.

  4. Advanced feed formulations: Continued advancements in feed formulation techniques may lead to the development of more specialized feed options for different horse populations. These formulations could address specific nutritional needs, such as those of performance horses, broodmares, and horses with specific health conditions.

The future of equine nutrition holds great promise, with ongoing research and technological advancements paving the way for improved horse health and performance.

The Relationship between Equine Nutrition and Performance

Impact of Nutrition on Horse Performance

Nutrition plays a crucial role in the performance of horses. A well-balanced diet provides the necessary energy, nutrients, and building blocks for muscle development, stamina, and overall athletic performance.

Proper nutrition is essential for supporting the energy demands of physically active horses. Carbohydrates are a primary source of energy for horses, and their digestion and absorption are important for maintaining stamina during exercise. Adequate protein intake is also crucial for muscle development and repair, which directly impacts a horse’s strength and athletic ability.

In addition to energy and protein, other nutrients such as vitamins and minerals contribute to a horse’s overall performance. For example, vitamin E supports muscle function and recovery, while minerals like calcium and phosphorus are necessary for strong bones and proper muscle contractions.

Inadequate nutrition can lead to poor athletic performance, decreased stamina, muscle imbalances, and increased susceptibility to injuries and illnesses. Therefore, optimizing a horse’s diet is essential for ensuring they have the energy and essential nutrients needed for peak performance.

Optimizing Equine Athletes’ Diets

To optimize the diets of equine athletes, horse owners should consider several factors:

  1. Energy requirements: The energy needs of the horse should be calculated based on their level of activity, intensity of exercise, and body condition. Caloric intake should be adjusted accordingly to meet their energy demands.

  2. Protein needs: Athletes in heavy training or with high-performance demands may require increased protein intake to support muscle development and repair. The specific protein requirements can vary depending on the horse’s breed, size, and exercise regime.

  3. Timing of meals: Providing frequent, smaller meals throughout the day can help optimize nutrient absorption and prevent digestive upset. This can be achieved by offering multiple feedings or providing access to forage throughout the day.

  4. Hydration: Proper hydration is crucial for athletic performance. Horses should have access to clean, fresh water at all times, and additional sources of electrolytes may be necessary during intense exercise or hot weather.

  5. Supplementation: Depending on the specific needs of the horse, targeted supplementation may be beneficial. This can include providing additional nutrients such as vitamin E, omega-3 fatty acids, or joint support supplements. However, it is important to consult with a veterinarian or equine nutritionist before adding any supplements to a horse’s diet.

By considering these factors and working closely with a knowledgeable equine professional, horse owners can optimize the diets of their equine athletes, supporting their performance and overall wellbeing.

Case Studies: Successful Performance Horses and Their Diets

Many successful performance horses owe their achievements, in part, to well-planned and optimized diets. Here are a few examples of how proper nutrition has contributed to the success of notable equine athletes:

  1. Secretariat: Secretariat, one of the greatest racehorses of all time, was known for his exceptional speed and endurance. His success on the track can be attributed, in part, to his well-balanced diet. Secretariat’s diet consisted of high-quality hay, specialized horse feed, and appropriate supplementation to meet his energy and nutrient needs.

  2. Valegro: Valegro, an Olympic gold medalist in dressage, had a diet meticulously planned to support his performance and overall health. His diet included a combination of high-quality forage, specially formulated grain, and targeted supplementation to ensure optimal muscle development, joint health, and overall wellbeing.

  3. McLain Ward’s horses: McLain Ward, an accomplished showjumper, has a team of horses that have reached the pinnacle of the sport. His nutrition program focuses on providing the right balance of energy, protein, vitamins, and minerals to accommodate the high demands of showjumping. By working closely with equine nutritionists, McLain Ward ensures that his horses have the necessary nutritional support to deliver top performances.

These case studies demonstrate the impact that proper nutrition can have on the success of performance horses. By tailoring diets to the specific needs of each horse, horse owners and trainers can optimize their horses’ performance potential and support their long-term health.

The Role of Veterinarians and Nutritionists in Equine Diet Planning

Role of the Equine Veterinarian in Nutrition

Equine veterinarians play a critical role in equine diet planning. They possess in-depth knowledge of horse physiology, health conditions, and the impact of nutrition on overall well-being. Equine veterinarians work closely with horse owners and trainers to create feeding programs that address the specific needs of each horse.

Veterinarians perform regular health check-ups, monitor horses’ weight, and assess their overall condition. They may also conduct blood tests and other diagnostic procedures to identify any nutritional deficiencies or imbalances. With this information, they can recommend dietary adjustments or the addition of nutritional supplements to meet the horse’s specific needs.

In cases where a horse has a medical condition, such as gastrointestinal disorders or metabolic issues, veterinary expertise is even more crucial. The veterinarian will work in collaboration with an equine nutritionist to develop a specialized diet plan that supports the horse’s health, aids in recovery, and minimizes the risk of complications.

Ultimately, the role of the equine veterinarian in nutrition is to ensure that horses receive appropriate diets that promote optimal health, support performance, and prevent or manage any health conditions.

Importance of Equine Nutritionist’s Role

Equine nutritionists are experts in the field of equine nutrition. They possess in-depth knowledge of equine dietary requirements, nutrient composition of feeds, and the impact of nutrition on horse health and performance. Equine nutritionists work closely with horse owners, trainers, and veterinarians to develop personalized feeding programs for horses.

Equine nutritionists assess the specific needs of each horse by considering factors such as age, body condition, level of activity, and any health conditions. They analyze the nutrient content of available feeds and design diets that meet the horse’s specific requirements.

Equine nutritionists are also at the forefront of researching and developing innovative nutritional solutions for horses. They stay up to date with the latest scientific advancements and incorporate evidence-based practices into their recommendations.

By collaborating with veterinarians and utilizing their specialized knowledge, equine nutritionists can optimize the overall health, performance, and wellbeing of horses through tailored feeding strategies.

Combining Veterinary and Nutritional Expertise for Horse Health

The collaboration between equine veterinarians and nutritionists is crucial for ensuring the optimal health and performance of horses. By combining their respective areas of expertise, they can provide comprehensive care and support to horses throughout their lives.

Veterinarians provide the medical and physiological knowledge necessary to assess a horse’s overall health and diagnose any underlying conditions. They monitor horses’ health, administer treatments, and perform diagnostic tests to identify nutritional deficiencies or imbalances.

Equine nutritionists, on the other hand, focus on the dietary aspects of horse health. They assess the nutrient content of feeds, develop feeding strategies, and recommend appropriate supplements when necessary. Equine nutritionists consider the specific nutritional requirements of each horse, taking into account their age, activity level, and any medical conditions.

By working together, veterinarians and nutritionists can create personalized diet plans that address the specific needs of each horse. They collaborate to monitor the horse’s progress, make adjustments as needed, and ensure that the diet is supporting the horse’s overall health and performance.

This collaboration between veterinarians and nutritionists is a powerful combination that ensures that horses receive the best possible care and nutrition for their specific needs.


In summary, a solid understanding of equine nutrition is crucial for maintaining the health, wellbeing, and performance of horses. Proper nutrition provides all the essential nutrients horses need to support growth, athletic performance, and overall health. Kentucky Equine Research has been a pioneer in advancing equine nutrition through their extensive research, innovative products, and global reach.

Other notable leaders in equine nutrition, such as Cargill Incorporated and Purina Mills, have also made significant contributions to the field. Emerging trends, such as the rise of organic and natural diets, the use of essential oils, and the potential for DNA-based personalized diets, are shaping the future of equine nutrition.

Equine nutritional research continues to evolve, with a focus on areas such as gut health, targeted nutritional support for specific health conditions, advanced feed formulations, and sustainable feeding practices. The relationship between equine nutrition and performance is undeniable, with proper nutrition playing a critical role in optimizing the diets of equine athletes.

The collaboration between equine veterinarians and nutritionists is essential for effective equine diet planning. By combining their expertise, they can develop tailored feeding programs that address the specific needs of each horse, ensuring optimal health and performance.

As our understanding of equine nutrition continues to evolve, it is critical for horse owners, trainers, and professionals to stay informed and prioritize the importance of appropriate equine nutrition. By providing horses with diets that meet their specific needs, we can promote their overall health and wellbeing, leading to happier, healthier, and more successful equine partners.