Insufficient musculature due to protein deficiency
Is your horse stiff and skimpy in muscle? Are you training hard but are the back muscles under the saddle not fuller? This often has to do with the ration. How much protein does your roughage contain? And with what kind of concentrate you fill in the ration?
After checking the raw and concentrate feed ration, it appears that the horse does not have sufficient protein to build up muscle mass. But what exactly are proteins and why does a horse need proteins so badly?
Proteins are the building blocks of the body and are indispensable for the connective tissue, the immune system and in the production of hormones and neurotransmitters. Proteins are needed to repair and renew the body. Not only are the muscle cells restored, but also the skin, intestinal cells, red blood cells and hormones. All these daily processes can be well realized, provided that sufficient protein is present in the ration. Proteins are made up of amino acids. Amino acids are made into proteins according to an arrangement. This arrangement of amino acids, the amino acid pattern, forms the structure of proteins. Enzymes and acids break the pattern of amino acids in the intestine. The single amino acids are absorbed into the bloodstream through the small intestine. Via the liver the amino acids are transported to the different parts of the body to support the body processes.
Amino acids can be divided into two types: non-essential or single amino acids and essential amino acids. Non-essential amino acids are produced by the body itself. Amino acids are made up of substances such as carbon, oxygen, hydrogen, nitrogen and sulfur. The essential amino acids are removed from the diet. Many types of food such as grass, lucerne and soy consist partly of protein. Every protein has its own type of amino acid pattern. Through a balanced diet the horse gets enough protein and different amino acids inside. Every tissue in the horse's body needs its own unique amino acid pattern. For example, the hair and hoof of the horse need a different amino acid pattern than the muscle fibers. With the hoof it provides hardness, with the bones absorption of calcium, with the blood vessels elasticity.
Essential amino acids;
All essential amino acids must be fed to the horse via the diet, because the horse's body can not make them themselves. There are nine species. These are shown below with the most important functions:
- Lysine, involved in concentration, the absorption of calcium, the growth of bone tissue, the build-up of collagen and support of the immune system.
- Tryptophan, involved in resistance and stress management,
- Leucine, involved in growth / recovery of muscle tissue, wound and bone healing, sugar metabolism.
- Valine, growth and recovery of muscle tissue, functioning of the nervous system.
- Isoleucine, involved in the development and development of muscle tissue and the energy production at cell level.
- Methionine, involved in skin and hair health, prevention of fat deposits in the body, liver detoxification, histamine breakdown and as an antioxidant.
- Threonine, involved in brain metabolism, digestion and production.
- Phenylalanine, involved in stress, pain and overweight.
- Histidine, involved in growth
Not essential but often deficient:
- Glutamine, is not essential but can certainly be essential in case of bowel problems, muscle recovery and support of the immune system
- Arginine, is not essential but can be very essential for (wound) healing, fertility problems, or slow regeneration after exercise.
- Tyrosine, is not essential but helps muscle build-up
Muscle Building | How does that work exactly?
Protein is broken down into amino acids and nitrogen throughout the gastrointestinal tract. However, amino acids are only absorbed in the small intestine. The amino acids that are released after the colon can not be used by the horse, but bacteria do use them.
In horses that are actively trained, the production of muscle tissue is essential. Your muscles are loaded during the training of your horse. During this load small cracks develop in the muscle fibers. The broken cells are renewed and the small cracks are filled by amino acids and thus form new tissue.
Muscle building through training
In the event of an imbalance between diet and training, too many cracks can occur. If there is a shortage of protein in the ration, the body can not recover sufficiently. There is also often too much or intensive training. A horse that is intensively trained every day (not counting a quiet outside ride or relaxed lunging work) does not get enough time to recover. These horses sometimes remain poor on the top line and buttocks. This does not mean that we have to feed every horse but a lot of protein, this certainly does not always add extra value, because a large part remains unusable for the horse. Good training and sufficient rest also influence the muscle development of the horse.
For a healthy horse, a surplus of protein in the diet is not a problem. Kidneys excrete the nitrogen, causing the horse to urinate more often and also have more need to drink.
Which horses have a protein deficiency? And which horses need more proteins on average?
Horses that need to perform need more protein to support muscle recovery. A horse classified B for dressage can have more difficulty with side-laps and support than a seasoned Z horse with more difficult exercises such as points and collected canter. A horse that is better trained has stronger muscles and a better condition and therefore requires a shorter recovery period and will need fewer building blocks. We can therefore state that the need for protein is not dependent on the level but on the condition of the muscles. The training will also have to be built up slowly for horses that are being ridden in recreational mode and are traveling long distances or are riding on heavier ground. These horses, after improvement and training of the muscle mass, will be able to cope better with the work.
Which horses have an extra need for protein:
- Supporting and lactating mares
- Horses in rearing
- Horses that rehabilitate
- Horses that perform (regardless of the level)
High biological value
The value of the protein in the diet depends on the digestibility and the amino acid pattern. The more essential amino acids the protein contains, the higher the biological value. Lucerne contains about 18-20% crude protein, of which 50-60% is digested. Other feed materials rich in protein with a high biological value include soy and linseed. Source: feeder.nl
The right food
At several food manufacturers and independent institutes, thousands of rough feed analyzes have been carried out in recent years. This shows that many roughage products that are used specifically for horses have fallen in feed value. The feed value and the protein percentage of roughage depends on the fertilization of the grass, the soil type where the grass is grown and the period in which the grass is harvested. For (horse) hay or for dry silage grass, a lot of land is harvested that is owned by private individuals and nature conservation organizations. This land is in many cases less well fertilized and contains less protein than farm-managed grass. This is no problem for austere breeds and horses that are not used sportily. For horses that are actively driven or, for example, are growing, this means that there is a protein shortage. Long-stemmed natural hay is extremely rich in fiber. This is a very favorable fact. Unfortunately, natural hay often also contains more sugar than average. Only with a roughage analysis you know exactly what you are doing.
A roughage ration can be supplemented with, for example, lucerne. This roughage product is rich in naturally formed vitamins, minerals and proteins. Lucerne contains a rich amino acid profile.
Besides upgrading the roughage ration is advisable to carry on concentrates. Many basic and sports chunks have a balanced energy ratio but have a relatively low (digestible) protein content and contain a considerable proportion of pollutants that consist of residual products from the food industry. Hartog has a herbal pellet mix in its assortment with pure grains, lucerne, soya and linseed. The raw materials lucerne and soya and linseed contain a high biological value and have a varied amino acid pattern. The ideal support during light effort to heavy performance.
Tips for muscle building and extra body
- Support your horse with a ration with sufficient digestible protein and a balanced energy content. For example, combine the Hartog Lucerne mix with the Hartog Concept herbal pellets .
- Vary their exercises, train them at least 3 to 4 times per week intensively. Alternate these training sessions with, for example, longeing.
- Give the horse a minimum of 24 hours of rest after an intensive effort (or movement, such as grazing)
- Provide adequate drinking water and stimulate the absorption of water by adding the Hartog Care Promise herbal mix with extra electrolytes for example
- Always start with a warm-up, because this lets the blood flow faster and the muscles are warmed
- Finish with a cool-down to let the muscles recover slowly
- Provide sufficient proteins / amino acids so that muscles can use these building materials to repair the muscle cells
Roughage with more than 16% protein rarely exists. Horses that are offered this rarely have a shortage of protein and essential amino acids. If these horses are fed with a high proportion of protein and energy, this can have a negative effect on the intestinal flora, stool and stiff muscles. The kidneys become more burdened when the protein is too large and the horse starts drinking and urinating more. If a horse has insufficient musculation despite sufficient protein intake, then another cause may be at the root of this problem. Consider, for example, the training method and the armor.
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- Enriched with a unique herbal blend
- Free of preservatives, GMO raw materials and bulking materials
- Source of highly digestible proteins and essential amino acids for muscle maintenance and build-up
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HARTOG Concept - concentrate feed for recreational and sport horses. Hartog Concept is a complete concentrate with exclusively pure raw materials. The herbal blend promotes good intestinal flora, supports the immune system and has a positive influence on the general health. Hartog Concept supports the vitality and condition of the horse. The rich amino acid pattern maintains muscle mass and supports recovery after performance.