Benefits of Fat Supplementation in Racehorses

January 29, 2019

Kathleen Downs, Director of Marketing
O3 Animal Health LLC

O3 Animal Health wanted to share a few of the many benefits of supplementing racehorses with good healthy fat. It is important to note that some products on the market would be considered “bad” fats. Low in quality, chemically or heat processed or highly inflammatory. O3 Animal Health products, on the other hand, are all natural, non-GMO, all human grade ingredients and have anti- inflammatory properties.

O3 Animal Health has four different fat based supplements, each offering a variety of benefits for horses. You can learn more about those products on our website:

Fat supplementation for racehorses have three distinct benefits in addition to the more general benefits of essential fatty acid supplementation.

The Glycogen Sparing Effect

All equine athletes depend on the production of energy or ATP during a workout. The production of energy is reliant on the capacity of the muscle to employ body stores and this depends primarily on the availability of oxygen. Racehorses are known for sprinting, which is largely an anaerobic, or “without oxygen,” type of exercise. During anaerobic metabolism, oxygen is not necessary for the breakdown of energy stores. However, fat cannot be metabolized as a form of energy during this type of work. So why do we recommend supplementing fat to racehorses? Even top racehorses are conditioned aerobically, or “with oxygen,” at a slow and steady level. Therefore, while racehorses may not be able to utilize fat during higher intensity sprint work, they can make use of fat during training workouts. As a result, glycogen is spared for use during short-term sprinting and the onset of fatigue is delayed.

Increased Energy Density

Even though horses do not naturally eat increased amounts of fat in the wild, fat is a highly digestible, safe energy source. Fat has 2.25 times the energy by weight as carbohydrate. It is an alternative energy source for racehorse rations that provides calories in a concentrated form. Feeding fat provides a means to eliminate a portion of carbohydrate from the diet as a source of calories. Increasing the energy density of a racehorse diet without feeding too much grain can be a challenge. Ideally, racehorses should receive small meals throughout the day and the amount of grain fed should not exceed the amount of forage offered. With its increased energy density, fat serves as a means to increase the amount of calories in a single meal without dramatically increasing volume.

Reduced Joint and Tissue Inflammation

Traumatic joint disease comprises a number of conditions that develop out of trauma. Racing can be difficult on the horses’ joints and can lead to a state of damaging inflammation. Prolonged exposure to inflammation perpetuates the cycle of cartilage destruction within the joint and can lead to arthritic conditions even in young horses.

Deterioration of cartilage is often accompanied by changes in the bone and soft tissue.  Once inside the body, omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids have hormone-like properties. With the addition of omega-3 fatty acids to the diet, particularly the long chain fatty acids, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), overall production of pro-inflammatory molecules decreases while the production of anti-inflammatory molecules increases. In addition to proper rehab practices, omega-3 fatty acid supplementation can reduce the overall inflammatory status and give the joint and its surrounding tissues time to heal.  Supplementing your horse with good fat can also prevent joint damage by counteracting the cycle of inflammation before it has time to cause any serious damage.

If you would like to know more about the many benefits of essential fatty acid (omega) supplementation, we’d invite you to visit our website at

We also have hundreds of customer reviews on our site.

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