Recovering from exercise is equally as important as the exercise itself. That’s why you must take muscle recovery in your horse seriously. After all, during this process, your horse rebuilds his muscle tissue, becoming stronger in the process.
Keeping your horse well-hydrated is one of the most important steps you can take to encourage your horse’s muscle recovery. One of the main reasons for this is that horses lose a lot of glycogen (stored carbs that act as fuel) when they exercise or work. Unfortunately, it takes some time (up to 72 hours) to replenish the glycogen in your horse’s muscles fully.
Because water is essential for muscle glycogen storage, keeping your horse hydrated will help increase the rate at which it is replenished in your horse’s muscles. Remember, hydration doesn’t mean watering your horse by the bucket-full right after making it work. It begins well before that.
After the workout, as you cool him down, encourage your horse to drink small amounts of tepid water with a small amount of salt added, as this encourages the horse to drink more. This is new information, as many horse owners may have heard a horse can colic if given water right after exercise. Don’t give a lot of water—just a little at a time—as giving no water after exercise can also lead to colic.
Another critical element that will help encourage muscle recovery in your horse is the diet you put it on. Nutrition plays a huge role, not only in your horse’s ability to train at intense levels but his ability to recover muscle tissue well.
How you time your horse’s meals and the choice of feed you give him before exercise is crucial to his performance and recovery. Avoid large meals before training, as these place a demand on the horse’s fluids, resulting in him not being adequately hydrated. Instead, focus on forage meals that provide the perfect balance of energy and metabolic balance.
Whole-body vibration is another excellent way to encourage muscle recovery in your horse. Whole-body vibration therapy involves placing your horse on a vibration platform capable of applying vibrations of different magnitude and frequency. This kind of therapy has been proven to stimulate muscle growth and improve circulation. In essence, it encourages your horse’s body to heal itself. So, if you haven’t invested in one for your horses, make sure to get a vibration platform.
The way your horse’s muscles recover after exercise is also heavily influenced by how you warm him up before intense exercise. An optimal warm-up conditions the muscles, joints, and soft tissues in preparation for the work ahead.
Steadily increasing your warm-up intensity also stimulates the heart and lungs to anticipate the demand you’re about to place on your horse. The slow rise in blood flow to the large muscle groups ensures high levels of oxygen throughout the horse’s body during peak training exercises. This helps reduce the build-up of byproducts that contribute to muscle degradation. Examples of such byproducts are lactic acid and excessive heat.
Cooling down your horse is also an essential aspect of encouraging your horse’s muscles to recover after a heavy exercise. The key is to help your horse get back to his normal temperature, heart, respiratory, and breathing rates, without drastically reducing blood flow to the major muscle groups. To do this, walk your horse at a steady pace until his breathing goes back to normal.
Infrared light has been proven to stimulate the body’s self-recovery process by improving blood circulation and encouraging faster metabolism. This is where horse solariums come into play. You can use a solarium pre-exercise to help warm up the horse’s muscles and post-exercise to help with muscle recovery. The light therapy that solariums offer also helps your horse calm down and relax faster after a strenuous exercise.
Supplements are another great way of helping encourage muscle recovery for your horse. Giving him the necessary nutrition required for post-exercise recovery will lead to the muscles getting the necessary nutritional support needed for recovery. Consider supplements such as amino acids, electrolytes, and vitamins, among the many supplements to give your horse.
Proper Training Equipment
Last, proper muscle recovery is a result of proper training. That’s why you must invest in the right training equipment for your horse. At Vitafloor USA, Inc., we pride ourselves on researching and creating the best training equipment you’ll find on the market, the reason being we love horses, and we want to help other horse lovers get the best out of theirs.