Dressage movement

Equitop Myoplast® is a unique amino acid supplement scientifically designed to support lean muscle development in horses.

Amino acids are the building blocks required by the body for protein synthesis.

The blend of 18 key amino acids in Equitop Myoplast® can help enable horses to build up muscle more efficiently and respond better to training. This has rapidly made it a favourite of riders in all disciplines, but especially in dressage where muscle is so important for generating power, maintaining posture and facilitating precise co-ordination.

Equitop Myoplast® is available through your veterinary practice or pharmacy. For more information, and to see what a difference Equitop Myoplast® could make to your horse, visit www.facebook.com/equitopmyoplast

Boehringer Ingelheim, the manufacturer of Equitop Myoplast®, is supporting important research into muscle metabolism to help understand more about optimising muscle conditioning through nutrition and training. Here, Rosie Naylor BVetMed MVetMed DipACVIM MRCVS, who works at the comparative neuromuscular diseases laboratory at the Royal Veterinary College, explains her research into the regulation of muscle metabolism in horses…

Athletic ability reflects a combination of factors such as lung function, oxygen delivery to tissues and skeletal muscle mass.

Skeletal muscle comprises more than 50% of a horse’s bodyweight, a greater proportion than in most other species, including man.

Muscle performs many important functions, but specifically in the dressage horse — generating power for locomotion (both strength and speed), maintaining posture and thereby limiting injury, and also allowing for precise coordination of movement.

Training programmes designed to increase muscle mass demonstrate a correlation between increasing power and skeletal muscle volume. Skeletal muscle converts energy produced by the body’s metabolism into mechanical work, through the coordinated movement of overlapping protein filaments of actin and myosin.

The sliding of these filaments along each other in response to nerve impulses requires calcium and energy, and results in muscle contraction. As a general rule, the greater the number of muscle filaments recruited, the more power may be generated. Therefore, training programmes that promote muscle protein synthesis may lead to increased power and, in turn, enhanced performance.

Understanding muscle types

Each muscle in the body contains a mixture of different proportions of each fibre type, depending on its function.

Type 1 (slow-twitch) fibres are predominant in muscles that are designed to maintain body position, such as postural muscles, eg the pectorals, while type 2 (fast-twitch) fibres are more prevalent in the locomotor muscles, such as the hamstrings or the gluteals, which are required to facilitate rapid movement.

Dressage movementType 1 fibres rely on having a constant supply of oxygen to provide a more sustained energy supply and they are efficient at performing slow, repetitive movements. Type 2 fibres use energy stored as carbohydrate in the muscle. The muscle movements produced are more powerful and explosive, but cannot be sustained for long periods as the energy stored in the muscle runs out. Type 2 muscle fibres would be recruited to perform a pirouette, for example.

The mixed fibre-type composition of each muscle allows them to efficiently perform different types of exercise and, to a degree, the fibre-type composition of a muscle can be adapted with specific training.

About amino acids

Skeletal muscle mass is a balance between muscle protein synthesis and degradation. Specific amino acids provide important nutrient signals and regulate muscle protein production.

Amino acids are the building blocks of protein within the body, and while horses are able to synthesise some of these themselves (non-essential amino acids), there are a number that they are unable to make themselves and therefore must ingest from the diet (essential amino acids).

Of these essential amino acids, there is considerable evidence that the branched chain amino acids, most significantly leucine, support muscle protein synthesis. Therefore specific amino acid supplements that are rich in these branched chain amino acids may be of benefit in supporting the development of muscle mass in the equine athlete.

Royal Veterinary College research

The team at the Royal Veterinary College’s comparative neuromuscular diseases laboratory, led by Dr Richard Piercy, is currently undertaking important research to investigate the precise mechanisms that regulate muscle metabolism in the horse.

This work is being performed in collaboration with Boehringer Ingelheim, the manufacturer of the amino acid supplement  Equitop Myoplast. The aim of this research is to provide more specific recommendations for optimising muscle conditioning and training for specific disciplines.

Using state-of-the-art techniques adapted from the field of human exercise physiology, we hope to improve our understanding of muscle protein production in the horse, and optimise maintenance, in both health and disease.

For more information, visit: www.facebook.com/equitopmyoplast

Website: http://www.equitop-myoplast.co.uk/

Advice on the use of Equitop Myoplast® or other products should be sought from your veterinary surgeon. Equitop Myoplast® contains spirulina extract. This is not a veterinary medicine that is subject to authorisation by the Irish Medicines Board. Further information available from Boehringer Ingelheim Limited, Vetmedica Division, Bracknell, Berkshire, RG12 8YS, UK. Tel: +44 (0)1344 746959. Email: vetmedica.uk@boehringer-ingelheim.com. Date of preparation: Feb 2014. AHD 8045.