Best exercise and feed for conditioning youngstock
Lorraine Fradl B.Agr.Sc,
Connolly’s RED MILLS – Senior Equine Nutritionist
A well-developed topline and healthy muscle tone in young horses will not only have a positive impact in the sales ring, but also on a horse’s soundness and athletic ability. Research has shown that low intensity exercise during the first year of a thoroughbred yearling’s life induces muscle adaptations, which positively influences athletic performance in later life.
Topline is the muscle structure, which runs from the poll, down the neck, over the back and into the hindquarters. Equine muscle contains more than 70% protein so feeding this requirement during this intense period is essential for sound development.
As muscle is made up of protein, a diet that contains an appropriate level of protein is key for muscle development. It is not just the protein quantity that matters, but also the quality of the protein that the feed contains. Providing adequate energy is also important to ensure the horse is energised and working well, and key vitamins and minerals play a major role in normal muscle function, ensuring that muscles don’t become fatigued prematurely slowing progress down.
Exercise and nutrition work hand-in-hand to achieve a well-defined topline and ensure your yearling is sales ring ready. Exercise will activate muscle conditioning, while a balanced diet will provide amino acid building blocks to build and repair a healthy muscular system.
Topline and muscle conditioning cannot be achieved where horses are not holding the appropriate condition. Yearlings that come in for prep at lower body condition scores, or those that are struggling to maintain condition as the workload increases will benefit from a high fat conditioning pellet. Connolly’s RED MILLS Define & Shine is specifically formulated to support weight gain and topline. Define & Shine’s amino acid profile uniquely mirrors the ratio of horse muscle, providing optimal proportions to support growth and development. The high levels of omega-3 rich oils increase the calorie density of meals while also supporting coat condition and overall well-being. Introduce slowly and feed 200-400g daily throughout prep on top of a balanced diet.
Exercising yearlings will have an increased protein requirement, which is unlikely to be met through forage alone. Feeding Connolly’s RED MILLS Stud Cubes /Mix and Prep Mix will provide a source of high quality protein and essential amino acids, to meet the requirements of developing horses. If a low starch diet is required the Connolly’s RED MILLS Horse Care range is recommended.
Weak individuals that are struggling to develop topline will benefit from the addition of a pre-digested protein supplement such as Foran Equine Muscle Prep. Muscle Prep includes all essential amino acids to support rapid muscle development in combination with vitamin E to support recovery from exercise and B vitamins to promote appetite and increase protein and energy metabolism.
The increase in exercise during sales preparation can often result in muscle stiffness and soreness, due to oxidative damage caused by an exercise-induced increase in free radical production. Antioxidants help to assist in muscle recovery by mopping up excess free radicals. Foran Equine Muscle Max combines powerful antioxidants vitamin E and selenium with lysine and B-vitamins to help reduce the cellular damage and support the recovery of tired muscles.