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By Kentucky Equine Research Staff · April 1, 2013
Carbohydrates, especially muscle glycogen, are key sources of energy for working muscle. When muscle glycogen is depleted during exercise, fatigue occurs rapidly.
Because glycogen is a valuable energy substrate during exercise, replenishment of its stores is extremely important. Diets high in soluble carbohydrate should have a positive effect on muscle glycogen repletion, but some studies have noted that glycogen resynthesis in horses is slow even when high-grain diets are fed. If repletion to pre-exercise levels does not occur, subsequent performances may be negatively affected. In humans, feeding carbohydrates soon after exercise affects the uptake of glucose by muscle and increases the synthesis of muscle glycogen as compared to feeding a carbohydrate source several hours after exercise. Typically, horses are not fed the grain portion (soluble carbohydrate source) of the diet during the early (< 1.5 hours) post-exercise (PE) period. However, feeding the grain meal closer to the end of exercise may be more beneficial for the horse, if muscle glycogen resynthesis can be effected. Enhanced glycogen resynthesis after exercise could be important for horses that compete on consecutive days, such as three-day eventers...
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