The Horse

FEB 2019

The Horse:Your Guide To Equine Health Care provides monthly equine health care information to horse owners, breeders, veterinarians, barn/farm managers, trainer/riding instructors, and others involved in the hands-on care of the horse.

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42 February 2019 The Horse | TheHorse.com horse's body. When he wants to provide the essential omega-3 fatty acids docosa- hexaenoic acid and eicosapentaenoic acid, Mueller says fish oil has its benefits. When supplementing fat, a horse might hit a maximum intake threshold with liq- uid fat if he doesn't like consuming a lot of fluid in his feed. Therefore, Mueller some- times uses an extruded fat supplement. In addition, he might suggest a blend of fat and carbohydrate calories, because pure fat-based calories are pricey. Developing Muscle While muscle development happens bodywide in horses, it is easier to see and measure using the horse's topline, says Mueller. To evaluate a horse's muscle development, he uses a topline evaluation system that scores muscle quality along the topline from an A to a D. He says this system acts as a supplement to the Hen- neke body condition scoring system. To add or develop muscle you must eval- uate your horse's current dietary protein levels and sources before increasing intake or changing protein sources. Mueller says he might opt to add a higher-protein feed or supplements or make a change in hay. "Alfalfa is one of my protein levers," he says. Alfalfa's benefit is that it can up protein and add calories for a horse that needs both. Crude protein requirements for horses vary. An adult horse at maintenance only requires 10% protein. Performance horses are often fed a product with 14% crude protein, while halter horses might get upward of 16%. Researchers have not determined a maximum amount of protein that can be fed. When choosing a protein source, says Mueller, the amino acid profile is key because amino acids are protein's building blocks. While horse owners might only see the crude protein content listed on a feed label, they can ask the manufacturer more about the amino acid profile. Thousands of amino acids exist in nature, but only 20 have dietary benefits for horses. Ten of these are essential amino acids, meaning the horse can't make them and, thus, must consume them in his diet. "The ratio of these amino acids and the amount of those amino acids are what determine your protein quality," Mueller says. "You need to focus on the quantity and quality of the amino acids. Are you NUTRITION

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