Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Conditioning Young Horses - Full Article

by: Christa Lesté-Lasserre
June 01 2012, Article # 20329

Research shows that appropriate amounts of exercise during the first three years of a horse's life can benefit the musculoskeletal system

Before your equine athlete begins full-scale training, he can benefit greatly from preparatory physical conditioning. Yes, it's true that he's still growing, that sensitive structures such as his joints and tendons are still developing, and that, generally speaking, he's immature. But veterinary researchers agree: A fair amount of exercise will do him a significant amount of good, not only now but for his entire life. So, it's important to get your youngster out of the stall and into shape.

Muscles, Tendons, and Bones

The first three years of a horse's life--particularly the first two--are a time of great change and development in his locomotor system, particularly the muscles, tendons, and bones (including joints). These structures are the ones you keep in mind most as your prospect matures.

Researchers note that growing muscles adapt to the discipline for which the horse is preparing. That’s especially true for how these structures metabolize energy, meaning how they store oxygen and use fat as an energy source. So developing equine muscles properly via exercise is primordial in preparing the young athlete.

Tendons accumulate collagen during growth, which plays a role in their stretchiness and resistance, so safeguarding these structures is critical as well.

As bones grow, they not only increase in length and width but also in density. The mix of minerals in the bones changes, and the bones' inner and outer membranes and outer shells thicken. All these parameters affect bone strength, so, once again, promoting optimal bone growth is essential...

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