Muscle Function and Performance, Presented by Kentucky Performance Products

Proper muscle function is imperative to top performance — this is true of all athletes, whether they be equine or human. Here are ways you can support your horse’s muscles so they stay in top shape.

Rhythm, relaxation, connection and impulsion are the goals of every rider. It takes adequate fitness, careful training and a healthy muscle function to achieve these goals. Poor muscle development, lactic acid build-up and a lack of antioxidant reserves can leave a horse unwilling to go forward and lacking in stamina during training, followed by stiffness and soreness after work.

As horses are asked to work harder, antioxidant requirements and lactic acid levels increase in muscle cells. Short-term deficits in antioxidants such as vitamin E and selenium can result in training difficulties, and long-term deficiencies can lead to poor muscle development and even neurological deficits.

Supplying the nutrients needed to support healthy muscle function is the key to successful development of a performance horse. Essential nutrients such as natural vitamin E, selenium, chromium and B complex vitamins support muscle development and functionality.

Natural vitamin E and selenium are the most powerful antioxidants utilized by the equine muscle.

They work together to reduce oxidative stress that impairs cellular function. This reduces the incidence of stiffness and soreness. Horses with adequate antioxidant reserves develop faster, have more stamina and fewer muscle disorders, and can also have less mental anxiety caused by fatigue and sore muscles. Horses are happier and more willing to work.

Chromium has been shown in studies to help exercising horses clear glucose faster, and it supports lower levels of lactic acid in muscle. Lactic acid hastens fatigue. Lower lactic acid levels improve stamina. Exercise increases a horse’s chromium requirements. In particular, horses with a history of RER (tying up) can benefit from supplemental chromium.

Horses in training can also benefit from additional B complex vitamins. Horses in light work and at rest synthesize enough B vitamins in their guts to meet their requirements. Hard-working horses that are under the stress of training and competing may not be able to meet their requirements on their own. Additional supplementation ensures increased needs are met.

Supporting heathy muscles in the performance horse is one of the main keys to success when developing a top performer.

Nutrient Suggested levels for horses in training
Natural vitamin E as d-alpha-tocopherol 2000 IU to 5000 IU per day
Organic selenium 1 mg to 3 mg per day in total diet
Organic chromium 5 mg per day

About Kentucky Performance Products, LLC:


Performance horses are susceptible to exercise-induced muscle damage. Vitamin E, a powerful antioxidant, limits the damage caused by everyday oxidative stress. It maintains healthy muscle and nerve functions, and supports a strong immune system in horses of all ages. Elevate was developed to provide a highly bioavailable source of natural vitamin E (d-alpha-tocopheryl acetate) to horses.

Check out this KPP article: Vitamin E and the Performance Horse – A Winning Combination.

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