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Caring for Horses the Right Way
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Caring for Horses the Right Way

A horse is certainly an animal worth having. The majesty of these animals is something beyond compare. However, most people who admire horses are not aware of the care and attention that needs to be provided to keep the horse in perfect shape. One of the most important things is that, if your horse develops exertional myopathies, you need to make sure you provide the right kind of foods in order to start taking care of those weak muscles.

Understanding what Exertional Myopathies Entail?

Stephanie Valberg, from the Michigan State University College of Veterinary Medicine’s Department of Large Animal Clinical Sciences, felt that some horses have a predisposition to what is called Recurrent Exertional Rhabdomyolysis. This occurs when the calcium cycling of the animal is not normal causing pain in the muscles along with stiffness and hardening. It usually occurs in thoroughbreds, even if they are fit, and may be caused due to stress and improper exercise.

The other condition that can affect horses is called Polysaccharide Storage Myopathy. This has two types. Type 1 causes a glycogen build up to develop into the muscle cell, through a mutation of a certain gene in the body.

On the other hand, Type 2 PSSM can only be identified once a muscle biopsy is done. If the horse has this problem, you will notice an abnormal clumping of glycogen in the cells. Although there won’t be any genetic mutation, this is when you should take your horse to the vet to find out how to take care of those weak muscles that could deteriorate further, if proper attention is not given.

Special Diet and Exercise to Battle Exertional Myopathies

Although a non-infectious disease, exertional myopathies can cause severe pain to the horse. The damage that is caused to the muscle tissues of the animal can be reduced by exercising the horse regularly and providing proper dietary management.

The moment a horse develops this condition, make sure its starch and sugar levels are low. Include additional calories and fat in their diet. Horses with RER need to have less than 20 percent of (non-structural carbohydrate) NSC calories and should include at least 20 percent of calories with fat. By keeping the grain intake of horses to less than 2.5 kg, you can reduce the risk of developing RER.

For horses having type 1 PSSM, avoid more than 12 percent NSCs in their diet as this will reduce insulin secretion thereby reducing glycogen synthase production in the body. Horses with Type 2 PSSM on the other hand, may not need such a sharp curtailment of NSCs since they do not have high concentrations of muscle glycogen. Add regular training and exercise to the horse’s routine and it will certainly be closer to recovery.

For type 2 PSSM horse, exercises that relax the muscles and cause the abdominal and core muscles to work, will reduce soreness and get the horse better. Adding 15 minutes of riding every day can help keep the muscles in good shape. However, Warmbloods need greater low warm-up exercises to get their muscles to relax.  

All in all, the basic ingredient to take care of those weak muscles and get your horse galloping across pastures once again is simply the right blend of exercise along with the right dietary requirements.

Disclaimer: Of Horse! and sponsors do not endorse nor validate the accuracy of a blog post. Each article is the opinion of the blogger.

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