Strategies to Build Muscle in the Equine Athlete
As spring arrives and you start preparing for the upcoming racing and competition season, it’s time to start thinking about muscling up your horse. Building muscle in the equine athlete is a gradual process, but your horse’s performance also depends on his muscle strength and health.
The right muscling and conditioning will help your horse to perform at his best, using his body correctly and effectively. Good muscling can shave off seconds in a barrel run, or mean the difference between clearing a fence or bringing down a rail. Plus, there’s nothing more pleasing than a well-muscled horse — the picture of equine health.
The following strategies can help you to build muscle in your horse.
Find the Right Feeding Program
Your horse needs the right nutrition in order to build muscle. Amino acids make up proteins and serve as muscle building blocks. In order to build muscle, your horse needs to consume adequate protein and those amino acids. While quality hay and pasture fulfill most of the protein requirements of a typical horse, performance horses, racehorses and other elite equine athletes need more protein. You can provide this through a concentrated feed like a ration balancer.
Though it may be tempting to provide your horse with extra protein to encourage muscle development, too much protein won’t help, and can result in extra muscle building. Instead, focus on feeding a balanced diet that meets your horse’s nutritional needs. You may want to talk with an equine nutritionist and have your hay tested so that you can customize your horse’s diet to his specific nutritional needs.
Focus on Proper Engagement
Riding your horse and encouraging proper engagement can help to build muscle, too. Focus on encouraging him to step up under himself with his hind end; you may use trot poles for this. Alternatively, intersperse trot work with canter work, which often causes a horse to step under himself, and then return to the trot while maintaining that driving stride.
There are a variety of bitting rigs that encourage engagement on the lunge line.
Work on engagement and getting your horse to drive from behind should be done in short intervals if your horse is out of shape. Building muscle takes time, and your horse will only be able to maintain this posture for short periods. Pushing for too much too fast can cause soreness, setting your conditioning back.
Incorporate Hill Work
Hill work is also a great way to build muscle in your horse. Riding your horse down hills will naturally encourage his hind end to come beneath him, but riding up hills is also excellent for building muscling. Start with just walking some hills at the end of your ride, then gradually increase the frequency, duration and intensity of your hill workouts.
Support Muscle Function with Un-Lock
To support your horse’s muscle function and performance, feed Un-Lock. Un-Lock is full of nutrients that are proven to prevent cramping and tying up, help your horse maintain top speeds as well as improve athletic performance and your horse’s muscle recovery. With more BCAAs, amino acids, electrolytes and essential vitamins than any other formula on the market, Un-Lock is also completely free of banned substances, so you can use it safely without worrying about withdrawal periods before competitions.
Try Un-Lock today and see what it can do for your horse. It’s backed by our 90-day money-back guarantee, so you can order with confidence.
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Use these tips to help your horse arrive at shows or races happy, healthy and ready to compete.