Gaining an Edge with Muscle Tone

Posted by Jyme Nichols, PhD on Dec 17th 2020

Gaining an Edge with Muscle Tone

Riding horses is a physically demanding sport. Not only for the horse but for the rider as well. I like to use analogies and stories to help people relate to what is going on with their horse. So, for a moment let’s consider all of the times someone has eluded to the idea that you don’t do anything physical when you ride, you just sit up there and the horse does all the work. Have you ever wondered why you come out of competition breathing as hard as your horse? Maybe you have implemented a new workout program and better eating habits and you have seen the changes it has made in your core strength, balance, and ability to stay in time with your horse.

I think we can all agree that most equestrian events are physically demanding for the jockey. Now, let us imagine how much more physically demanding it is for your horse who may be jumping, running, gathering, turning, balancing, and trying to pay attention and react correctly to your body position and physical cues. Not to mention the subtle adjustments your horse must make to account for varying pattern sizes, obstacles, or changing ground conditions. Oh, and then let us not forget that many horses do this multiple times per week or weekend, so there is little opportunity for full musculoskeletal recovery.

Muscle Tone

Muscle tone, or muscle strength, is an important component to both you and your horse. When muscles are toned they react quicker to changing situations within a performance, they fire harder and longer before fatigue sets in, and they recover faster between events.

Building muscle tone is something that requires an intentional and consistent conditioning routine–often referred to as having your horse “legged up”. This is the process of physically preparing the musculoskeletal system for the speed, impact, and duration of your discipline. However, physical training can only go so far, and for the advanced rider looking to gain those few extra tenths or points, there are some natural biologically active aids that can be fed to a horse to help them achieve that next level.

Nutritional Aids

Bovine colostrum has been shown to increase power and improve sprint time in human athletes. This nutritional aid may therefore help a horse power all the way through the end of the competition.

Leucine is a branched chain amino acid that has a direct impact in supporting muscle structure and muscle recovery time. Feeding this natural biological aid may help your horse bounce back quicker between events and be more refreshed when they step off the trailer.

Beta-Alanine is a functional amino acid which acts as a precursor to carnosine production, which is responsible for maintaining pH levels within the muscle. Researchers have found that beta-alanine supplementation results in nearly 3% improvement in performance!

Carnitine is another valuable amino acid which has biological benefits. Carnitine helps move fatty acids into cellular mitochondria. The mitochondria act like the engines within the cell–they burn fat to produce energy for the body. Researchers show Carnitine helps speed recovery time after exercise and lower the extent of muscle damage.

The Difference

These research-backed ingredients, and others, can be found in The Difference, a powdered supplement by Stride Animal Health. In addition to the muscle-related benefits described earlier, The Difference may also help increase assertiveness and “fire” in otherwise dull or lazy horses.

The Difference is show safe and contains no drugs. A specialized nitric oxide delivery mechanism helps the body process these ingredients in a way that supports maximum effectiveness. To achieve the full benefit of The Difference it should be fed daily for approximately 2 weeks while exercising your horse. The level of muscle tone and definition supported by The Difference is dose dependent, therefore the amount of The Difference fed to your horse may need to be adjusted up or down depending upon your horse’s response. Begin by feeding 2 scoops per day and adjusting as desired after 10–14 days. The Difference also supports libido in breeding stallions.


Need help choosing the right feed or supplement? Visit the Bluebonnet Feeds website for a free nutrition consult.


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