Maintaining & improving muscle condition - sponsored blog post

Hi guys! 👋🏻 For a while now I've been wanting to expand the range of topics that my blog covers, just so that you get more out of it. The equestrian trends, riding outfit ideas and dressage training topics won't go away as I still love them and enjoy writing, editing, and taking photos for them, and I'm far too opinionated to stop writing my opinion & motivational posts, but I've decided it was about time that new topics could be shared on the blog! This started last month with the interview blogpost with my good friend Tinja who shared her knowledge and experiences as an international competition groom and now carries on with this wonderfully informative post from Lauren at Feedmark.
 And so I'm very excited to be bringing you another blog post that I hope is useful for you and your horse! Although I do have some knowledge about equine nutrition and I try to keep up to date with all the latest advances in nutrition and all the different feeds and supplements, I am still no expert in this topic which is why I'm thrilled that Feedmark have worked with me to produce this blog post, and a massive thanks to Lauren for writing this and sharing her knowledge with us! 🙌🏻 Just a little bit about Lauren so that you can get to know her: Lauren Harrold joined Feedmark in 2018 as an Equine Nutritionist, following her degree in Equine Science at Oxford Brookes University. She owns 2 horses, an ex-racehorse and part-bred Newforest mare that both regularly compete in dressage, but also enjoy hacking at their home on the Norfolk/Suffolk border. 🐴❤️
Anyway, onto the actual topic... Fitness, muscle and condition ⤵️

For many horse owners, the change of seasons from winter to spring means less mud, less mucking out, and more time to ride in the lighter evenings! Many horses have the winter off exercise, or at least a reduction in their workload due to their rider’s lack of time or facilities in the cold and dark winter months. So, it is around this time of year that the horse’s workload begins to increase with  view to improve fitness and condition, and some horse owners will also be thinking about their competition season ahead.

Exercise for muscle health:
While time off work can be really beneficial for your horse and offers a chance to relax and recharge after a busy competition season, a horse will slowly begin to lose fitness and change shape after a couple of weeks off. Therefore, when bringing your horse back into work after, it is unrealistic to expect your horse to work and perform at the same level as he did before his holiday. Similarly, if your horse has been continuously in light work and you are now looking to increase his workload, consider these factors:

- Intensity of work: It is important to build up the paces from walk gradually to prevent issues arising affecting their cardiovascular systems, as well as the musculoskeletal system.
- Duration of exercise sessions: Keep sessions short to start with, such as 20 minutes of walking and increase both the time and intensity of the exercise slowly over several weeks.
- Diet: If your horse’s diet has been adapted to suit his reduced workload, then it is important to not immediately increase his intake again as he starts exercise and adapt it alongside monitoring his condition.
- Body condition score: It is very beneficial to monitor your horse’s weight and condition regularly. This can be done using either a body condition scoring system or weigh tape, or most effectively combined!
How does nutrition affect muscle development? 
The common sign of a healthy, fit horse, is a well-muscled frame including an established topline, but how can you help your horse develop this? Fundamentally, it comes down to correct and consistent exercise, but a balanced diet provides the nutritional building blocks for muscle development. The main component of muscle is protein (made up of amino acids), which the horse receives from good quality forage, however only in very small amounts. The harder the work the horse is doing, the higher their requirement for protein. Therefore, horse owners (particularly those of competition horses) will look to add a supplement to their horse’s diet to provide a source of protein and the necessary nutrients for muscle health. If it is weight your horse needs help to gain, look to feed a high oil diet. Oil is a safe source of slow release energy. There are many different varieties of oil, but linseed is popular due to the higher ratio of Omega 3 to Omega 6 fatty acids.

How can a supplement help?
Feedmark offers a range of supplements to help improve your horse’s condition and muscle health.

This supplement includes a high level of micronized linseed and linseed oil, that are both high in calories and offer a safe source of slow release energy. This has been balanced with the important anti-oxidants Vitamin E and Selenium, that help to stabilise the free radicals released during the metabolism of oil to produce energy. Soya meal also accompanies linseed in this formulation, as both are a natural source of amino acids. 

The B Vitamins are essential in the horse’s diet for growth in particular as they are necessary for the utilisation of nutrients, as they act as catalysts in the metabolism of protein and in the formation of tissues. 

Vitamin E is an essential component of glutathione peroxidase, an intercellular enzyme that helps prevent the formation of free radicals. The horse must be provided with enough Vitamin E and Selenium for optimal muscular and neurological function. 
In summary:
- A balanced diet is essential to provide the correct nutrition to build your horse’s muscle. 
- Ensure good quality forage is the main component.
- Consistent exercise is vital to improve muscle.
- Increase work load slowly to reduce the risk of injury. 
- Contact Feedmark for advice on which supplement is most suitable for your horse.

Click HERE see Feedmark’s wide range of popular and effective supplements! 

This is a sponsored blog post & I received a tub of OptiMuscle from Feedmark. Thank you Feedmark and Lauren for working with me! 💕

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