Max Corcoran has groomed internationally at the highest levels of equestrian sport for nearly two decades. She worked for the O’Connor Event Team for 11 years and has served at multiple Olympic Games, World Championships, Pan American Games and countless CCIs across the U.S. and Europe. She now lives in Ocala, Fla., with her partner Scott Keach, who competes Grand Prix show jumpers.
We wanted to know: when you get to a competition like a three-day event (or any strenuous competition), how should you feed your horse? Do you feed them extra calories? Add in a supplement?
“You feed them exactly the same as you’ve done the entire time. If you think about it, these horses are like marathon runners. They’re very particular about what is going into their body. If you change it, their metabolism and how they’ve been feeding their muscles can go haywire. You have to feed them exactly the same as you have been, always. If anything, you decrease the amount of grain you feed them – by increments, not a lot. Everything has to stay the same.
During the season you can change it, especially as they get fitter. You have to adjust based on their fitness and weight, but you don’t change it at the show. You want to keep everything the same.
Knowing how to read a feed label is so critically important and it’s something that a lot of us don’t know how to do. People say, ‘Oh, I’m feeding my horse pellets but he’s really hot.’ You have to think of their feed in the per serving way just like ours and read the nutrition information. One thing we do before a competition is to draw blood on our horses to make sure they’re blood levels are good and if we need to add an iron supplement or something to that effect. If we can help them three weeks out, why not?”