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Feeding To Help Build Muscle & Topline

Muscle topline

Muscles are almost constantly working. Even at rest there will be muscle tone, so that they are always ready for action. This means that muscle cells need to be continually repaired and renewed, and this process requires a good, consistent supply of nutrients, the most important of which is protein.

Proteins are made up of many ‘individual building blocks’ called amino acids, and protein obtained from food cannot function in the horse’s body until it is broken down into these elements. There are 22 amino acids and two of these (Lysine and Methionine) are known as essential amino acids. These essential amino acids cannot be produced by the horse itself, and therefore must be present in the horse’s diet in order to maintain optimum muscle function, cell renewal, tissue repair and growth.

To ensure an adequate supply of essential amino acids you need to look for feeds that contain good levels of quality protein sources. Very often horse owners tend to be more concerned about the protein % inclusion, but a high protein % may be made up of poor quality sources of protein! Feeds containing quality protein sources will also need to be fed at lower intakes.

Feedscoop enduro performance


Cereal grains are lacking in lysine and are therefore considered to be a poor quality protein. If you were to feed your horse a diet containing predominantly cereals and restricted quality protein sources you would find that, no matter how much work you put into your horse, the development of muscle tone and top line would be very difficult. It is also likely that your horse would experience increased muscle soreness and become more prone to infections etc. In extreme cases, you may even start to observe muscle wastage.

Bag render condition improver CUBES

Which Saracen feed?

Feeds high in quality protein have been shown to have a muscle-building effect when fed in conjunction with exercise. Saracen feeds such as ENDURO-PERFORMANCE and conditioning feeds such as Saracen CONDITION-IMPROVER CUBES would have higher inclusion levels of quality protein sources than a feed used for maintenance.

If workloads increase and energy demands are higher, or your horse requires a large amount of help to increase his condition, then you can look at topping up the diet with EQUI-JEWEL®.

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Alternatively, if you are feeding a good-doer you may not be able to feed a traditional feed without risking weight gain. In these situations feeding a balancer, such as Saracen ESSENTIAL BALANCER or COMPETITION-FIT BALANCER, will provide the quality protein required to help support muscle building whilst not oversupplying calories.


For further advice on how to feed to support muscle development please contact the nutritional team on 01622 718487 or email

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