To keep and maintain a thoroughbred horse’s excellent health takes much coordination and lots of planning. A proper, balanced diet is one of the most important things you can give your horse. With so many options available today, figuring out the best combinations to feed your thoroughbred can be daunting at best. At worst, it can cost you millions in lost purses and awards that would have otherwise been yours. Here, Jeffrey Drown talks about his horse, Structor, and what goes into the creation of this million-dollar racehorse’s well-balanced diet.
Jeffrey Drown says to create a plan for the proper diet consists of several steps. The first thing he looks at is the horse’s health. “Each one is different, just like each person is different,” he says. He says one thing to consider is the condition of the horse’s teeth, for example. “A horse that can’t chew properly might have trouble digesting food,” he explains. Intestinal parasites are another indication when planning the horse’s diet. A veterinarian will do a fecal examination and blood work to ensure the horse is in the best health possible. Jeffrey says another thing most people don’t think about is to make sure there aren’t too many biting insects flying around your horse as he tries to eat. Otherwise, he may give up eating all he wants because it’s just too much trouble. “I’m pretty fortunate not to have these issues with Structor,” he adds. “We’ve got a great manager, trainer, and vet, so between all of us, he’s pretty well taken care of.”
Jeffrey Drown says next to consider is the type of horse you’re dealing with. For example, a retired horse will have different feeding needs and routines from a younger horse. “Thoroughbreds tend to have high metabolisms and will require more food than other horses,” Jeffrey says. Just like with humans, proper combinations of protein and fats, carbohydrates, and vitamins and minerals are needed to create the perfect health for each horse. Most professional trainers agree that the general rule of thumb is that a horse that weighs 1000 pounds needs about 2% or more of its body weight in forage to stay healthy and avoid colic. This is equivalent to about 20 pounds of quality hay a day. Other nutrients are also needed to prevent injury, heal muscle, and maintain top health. For this reason, top trainers use about 15 pounds of hay and the remainder in quality feed concentrate. Some prefer to give their horse pelleted feed of extra nutrients since it’s easily digestible.
“You are what you eat,” says Jeffrey Drown, “and that’s true for racing horses as well.” He says endurance horses need more fat than ones that don’t race. “This is to help give them the energy for racing,” he adds. Hay can be given right up until competition as it buffers against stomach acid, and the sugars and starches will give the horse a boost in short-term energy. In any event, Jeffrey says measuring your horse periodically with a weight tape can give you a good estimate of your horse’s weight.
Jeffrey Drown and his partner, Don Rachel, are the owners of Structor, a 2-year-old thoroughbred horse purchased last year for $850,000. Structor has won three major races so far, including the coveted 2019 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf winner with a purse of $1 million. Jeffrey is the owner of Lyon Contracting, Inc. of St. Paul, Minnesota.