If you’re like most horse owners, as soon as you recognize there is a problem with your horse, your mind immediately searches for a solution. You may ask yourself, “how do I fix this?” and, more importantly, “how fast can I fix this?” The good news is that topline can be improved in a short amount of time. In fact, once a feeding program that provides the correct amino acids in the right balance is implemented (utilizing feeds that include Topline Balance), you may be able to start seeing results in your horse’s topline in as little as a few weeks! Factors to keep in mind to see the fastest results:
- Feed the correct product. Products that include Topline Balance are: SafeChoice products, ProForce products, and Empower Topline Balance products.
- Feed the product at the recommended rate: Do the math on the feed tag and figure out exactly how much feed your horse should receive for their bodyweight and work level. Don’t estimate!
- Next weigh it in a scoop and then ensure it’s fed every day; consistency is key!
- If others are in charge of feeding your horse, make sure they understand the importance of the right amount of feed every day.
- Assess your horse’s topline and body condition monthly or more and adjust within the feed tag directions as needed, remember forage will change cutting to cutting.
Decreases in topline condition
It can happen faster than you may think possible, but topline condition can start to deteriorate as quickly as it improves – in as little as a few weeks. Once specific amino acids are absent from the diet or supplied in a less bioavailable form, the muscles begin to atrophy, which is quickly noticeable in a simple visual observation.
Frequency of evaluation
To ensure you are making progress improving your horse’s topline, evaluation should take place on a regular basis – every 30-60 days is a good starting point for maintenance. We recommend more frequent evaluation for horse owner’s closely monitoring their feeding program in order to affect a change.
For more information, and a customized assessment of your horse’s topline, visit Topline Balance.
A common misconception about topline is that it can be improved through exercise alone.
Lack of exercise – or the wrong type of work ‑ is often blamed for a poor topline.
While exercise will certainly alter existing muscles, building new muscles is a different story. The nutritional building blocks of muscle (essential amino acids) must be present in sufficient quantities and balanced with adequate calories to rebuild or augment muscle tissue.
In fact, if a horse is worked hard but his diet lacks sufficient amino acids, existing muscle mass can shrink. This can be a slippery slope in some situations, and as muscle atrophy sets in, the belief is that the horse needs to work even harder when in fact the fuel is not present (in the form of nutrition) to help support and repair tissue that is broken down with exercise.
Just like human athletes, athletic equine partners need more essential amino acids than maintenance horses to maximize the effects of training and allow the horse to look and feel its best.
Certain exercises are thought to improve topline include hill work, backing exercises, and those that encourage the horse to collect and arc the body.
These exercises can help condition muscles, but only if the diet is supporting the muscles through proper nutrition. Before you put your horse into a conditioning program, be sure that your diet is in balance and you’ll be much happier with the results.
To determine what nutrition best fits your horse’s needs, take the Topline Balance assessment for a customized nutrition plan.
If you’ve ever tried to photograph your horse, you know it can be challenging at times! It takes a lot of patience, time and a little luck. But capturing photos of your horse, especially ‘before and after’ ones, can be very rewarding. It’s exciting to see the progress made from a new feeding regimen, new product or new routine. So to make the task a little easier, we’ve compiled some go-to tips:
• Be safe! Plan plenty of time, patience and have a trusted helper.
• Use the same plain colored backdrop for each photo (a plain colored door of a barn, garage door, etc).
• Be sure your lighting is bright and consistent every time.
• Be sure you are standing at the same distance every time.
• Be sure that the horse is groomed, and standing square with their poll at the same height for both before and after pictures.
• Try to minimize distractions, crop out the handler, like in the ‘after’ photo below.
• Take a posterior photo to show muscle improvement
• Square the horse up.
• Stand on a stool to be sure you get the right angle.
• Be safe, stand a safe distance behind the horse.
• Keep your backdrop and lighting consistent.
To learn more, visit ToplineBalance.com.
Q: What are the Building Blocks of topline muscles?
A) Vitamins and Minerals
B) Fresh Air and Water
C) Amino Acids
If you answered C (amino acids) you are correct! One of the most common misperceptions about topline is that it can be improved through exercise alone. Research shows that horse owners are more likely to believe they can influence their horse’s topline through exercise more than any other method. Additionally, lack of or incorrect exercise is often mistakenly attributed to poor topline development and definition.
While exercise will condition and train existing muscles, it can only help build topline if the nutritional building blocks of muscles—amino acids—are available in the diet. In fact, if a horse is worked hard enough, and significant amino acids are not present in the diet to build and develop the muscles being trained, muscle mass can be reduced. Just like human athletes, equine athletic partners need more amino acids than the sedentary horse to allow training to be fully utilized and allow the horse look its best.
Horse owners should combine a feed that contains guaranteed levels of the right amino acids (fed at the right amounts per the feed tag) with a healthy exercise program for best topline results.
To learn more, visit ToplineBalance.com.