What are you feeding your horse this autumn?

A research team is appealing for horse riders and owners to come forward to take part in a unique new study into equine nutritional supplements.

The research will focus on nutritional supplements for horses competing in dressage and eventing and will aim to discover what supplements are currently used, what riders and owners would like to see available and the best ways of passing on information about them.

The researchers hope to improve understanding of the key health and performance issues in these disciplines and how nutritional supplementation could be improved to support this.

Sarah Freeman, Associate Professor and European Specialist in Large Animal Surgery, who is supervising the study said: “Nutritional supplements are commonly used for health and performance in horses and there are a large range of them available on the market. Despite their widespread use, there is little information available about which supplements are used and why.

“Research in human athletes has helped to understand what type of supplements athletes want and the best ways of passing on information and advice. However, this is the first time that this type of research has been done in horses.”

The study is being undertaken by two third-year veterinary students, Charlotte Agar and Rachael Gemmill, in collaboration with Teresa Hollands at Dodson & Horrell Limited, a leading manufacturer of horse feeds, including nutritional supplements.

Riders and owners are being asked to fill in an online survey available at

The researchers will then follow up with selected volunteers who will be ed to explore some of the issues in greater depth.

Teresa Hollands, nutritionist at Dodson & Horrell and a specialist lecturer in animal nutrition at Nottingham’s School of Veterinary Medicine and Science, said: “Nutritional guidelines for horses are designed to support a healthy gut, to decrease chronic disease risk and improve overall performance. However as the research with human athletes has shown, there is often a discrepancy between awareness, understanding and use of food and supplements.

“With the Olympics on the horizon this research is particularly timely; not only do we want to use the results to support our elite horses but also to provide an information legacy for all horse owners and riders.”

The School of Veterinary Medicine and Science at The University of Nottingham is the first new vet school to be established in the UK for more than 50 years, having taken its first intake of students in September 2006.

In July, the school celebrated its first year of graduating veterinary surgeons and has established a reputation for outstanding success in veterinary education and research, demonstrating strengths in areas including evidence-based medicine and knowledge transfer.

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