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Slow Muscle Development - thoughts?

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  • Slow Muscle Development - thoughts?

    Thanks in advance for reading.

    I am working with a 12 year old appendix mare. My hopes for her are simply low level dressage. Prior to picking her up, she spent approx. 5 years sitting in a field just being a horse. Not neglected or mistreated, just hanging out.

    So I have put 1 month into conditioning her and I'm operating with my normal plan, but she's just simply not developing muscle tone as is the norm. She's also stiff when we get going and takes longer than average to warm up.

    I have addressed with the vet, and all exams/tests are totally normal, so we are not dealing with any joint issues (x-rays were crystal clear and joints are in perfect shape) and no metabolic or neurologic issues. So that leads me to think something is missing from her diet/daily intake or exercise routine that is making muscle development slow for her.

    She's currently eating 2 quarts of TC lite per day, on pasture for 10 hours a day, and eats 3 flakes of coastal bermuda at night in her stall. She is in great weight, and she does have muscle tone, it's just not developing at the rate that I normally see. I am riding her 3 days a week for 30 minutes in the ring, walk trot canter. 1 day a week, we go out on trails to walk trot for an hour, and 1 day a week, we lunge for 20 minutes to help flexibility and balance.

    I have been researching supplements and I have smartpak sending me a taste test of SmartMuscle Mass to try, but figured I'd pick the brains of COTH as well.

    Vet suggested above supp, but also said she's happy to check all vitamin/mineral levels, though there are no other symptoms to show that she is truly deficient in anything.

    She was overweight when I picked her up, not obese, but definitely had pounds to shed. She has done that and is at a great weight for her size, so perhaps it was just that the first month was spent burning fat rather than building muscle? Any other thoughts or ideas? Maybe she's one that needs some more intensive work? I wanted to take it easy given her fitness level, but maybe she is more fit than I had thought...
    Last edited by FindersKeepers; Nov. 29, 2012, 09:11 PM. Reason: poor spelling
    Strong promoter of READING the entire post before responding.

  • #2
    I do not think one month is really that much time to turn a fat, flabby into developed lean muscle.

    But things you can look at is Vit E and lysine levels of her ration.

    Personally in my horses and especially my hard keeper there is nothing better than the addition of whole roasted soybean to their ration when in harder work and I want lean muscle.

    Stiff? Stiff as in possibly OA in it early stages? Pentosan if that is the case and the sooner the better.


    • #3
      IMO, one month is not a lot of time. I think your routine is appropriate for a horse coming back to work after "hanging out" for so long. It's quite likely she was "burning fat" at first -- now maybe she can get down to business and get ripped and toned!

      I think you'll start seeing development over the next two or three months. Can you do hill work with her and/or cavalletti grids? I think they're wonderful for helping develop muscle.

      Some take longer than others. I did use a muscle building supplement on my gelding as he recovered from an injury and was moving up to Second Level. Maybe one of those products would help?