Ask Tigger: Diet Recommendations to Build Muscle
Tigger shares her experienced take on muscle-building diet recommendations for horses:
I recently purchased a horse that was doing mid-level dressage and am transitioning him into a mid-level jumper. I am struggling to help him build new muscle, increase stamina and keep his weight consistent all while making sure that he has the increased energy to jump 2x a week. Generally, he is a tall and lean horse to begin with and we live in South Florida, so I would not say that the grass is the greatest. I have transitioned him to an oats based feed (Competition 14 from Connelly’s Red Mills) and he is on Ramard supplements (Total Blood Fluids Muscle, Total Joint Care Performance) and an electrolyte, as well as pure camelina oil in his AM and PM feedings. He gets timothy hay 3x a day and alfalfa at lunch.
What else can I do to support him? Are there other things that I can try that are more natural?
– L. Rees
Great question! Thanks for all the detail. Looking at your feed program, you may need more protein to build new muscle. The feed he is on provides 12% protein, which is great for maintenance but probably not enough to build new muscle. Alfalfa hay is a great source of protein with a range of 18-26% protein. Timothy hay, like other grass hays is significantly lower: in the 7-14% range, and commonly around 8-9% protein. You would need to do a hay analysis to get a more specific picture of the protein in the hay your horse is getting. You might want to increase the alfalfa by giving him a flake 3 times a day rather than once a day.
Using a fat source like Camelina is an excellent way to add both long-burn energy, as well as helping weight gain. You can add additional fat sources such as Renew Gold, which provides a blend of triglycerides from coconut meal and rice bran, providing 15% protein.
BioStar’s approach to muscle building supplements and recovery is a little different from the products you are using. The foundation ingredient for both our Impulsion EQ and Quantum EQ formulas is shilajit extract. Shilajit is a bioresin used for thousands of years in Ayurvedic Medicine. Its name in Sanskrit means “conqueror of weakness.” Russian scientists began studying shilajit in the early 1960’s as a food to help their athletes. Shilajit is commonly made into tea by the Sherpas in Nepal.
Western scientists have discovered that shilajit regulates the mitochondria of the cells. The mitochondria convert fat, sugar, protein, and oxygen into usable sources of energy known as ATP. Low-functioning mitochondria is linked to chronic oxidative stress, diet, and inflammation. Low-functioning mitochondria will increase muscle fatigue, increase joint deterioration, and immune system imbalances. Low-functioning mitochondria will affect muscle development.
If the current supplement program you are on for muscle building does not improve your horse’s muscles and recovery after 60 days, you might consider switching to a different muscle support supplement.
One Size Does Not Fit All
When looking for feed and supplements for your horse, remember every horse is an individual, and a combination of feed and supplements that works well for one horse, may not work well for another. Give any new feed plan or supplement a month or more to show positive results in your horse. If you have questions, please feel free to contact us.
About the Author: With over 30 years experience in the equine and human supplement industry, Tigger Montague knows nutrition from the synthetic side as well as the whole food side. She started BioStar US in 2006 with formulas she created in her kitchen. Before she started the company, she was an avid rider and competitor with eventing and show jumping, until she got hooked on dressage in the late 1980’s. She has competed on horses she’s owned and trained all the way from training level to Grand Prix.
The contents of the BioStar blog are for information purposes only. They are not meant to be a diagnosis, treatment, or other substitute for veterinary advice. Your veterinarian is an integral part of your wellness team and we are proud to work alongside them to support your horse.