Muscle Problems in the Off-the-track Thoroughbred
Thoroughbreds in training produce large amounts of free radicals that can damage cell membranes in the muscle. To defend against free radicals, horses use antioxidants like natural vitamin E and selenium to hunt the free radicals and render them harmless. Thoroughbreds on the track are without the benefit of grazing on fresh green grass for long periods of time. Fresh grass is the best source of natural vitamin E. In dried forages, like hay, vitamin E levels drop 70% within the first week of being cut. When a Thoroughbred’s diet is deficient in antioxidants, inflammation and damage to muscle and nerve cells can occur. Supplementing your off-the-track Thoroughbred with natural vitamin E will help them recover from any muscle damage that may have occurred while on the track. If grazing for long periods on fresh green grass is not an option for your horse, either due to lack of pasture or competition schedule, continued supplementation with natural vitamin E will be needed to protect muscles and nerves from damage.
Thoroughbreds can also suffer from a muscle disorder recurrent exertional rhabdomyolysis (RER). The causes of RER are not completely clear but what is understood thus far is that exercise and/or excitement triggers the problem and the end result is the horse’s gluteal muscles “tie-up” and movement becomes painful and labored. Vitamin E can assist in repairing damaged muscle tissue resulting from episodes of tying-up. Sources of natural vitamin E are significantly more bioavailable than synthetic vitamin E and so should be the supplement of choice for working horses and those experiencing muscle disorders. Click here for more information on how to manage muscle problems in Thoroughbreds.