Developing a Healthy Topline in Horses | Living the Country Life

Developing a Healthy Topline in Horses

Equine veterinarians say a healthy topline can help reduce injury and contribute to overall well-being.

Horse owners who want their horses to be as healthy as possible should focus on developing their topline. That conclusion is based on a survey of American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP), which showed that seven out of 10 equine veterinarians consider adequate muscling surrounding and supporting the horse's spine (topline) is key to equine well-being.

The same survey showed that 62% of equine veterinarians believe a healthy topline is key to fewer injuries.

So what makes a healthy topline?

“There’s a lot of lore and confusion about the best way to build a healthy topline,” said Abby Keegan, Equine Innovation & Application lead for Cargill Animal Nutrition’s Nutrena brand. “Many people believe topline problems are simply a result of the horse not yet being in work, while others blame breed or genetics, said Keegan.

However, years of Nutrena research and field trials have shown that balanced nutrition should form the core of any topline development or maintenance program. Horses, like people, need a nutritious diet to have a strong, healthy core.

Select feed formulations that contain easy-to-digest amino acids, the building blocks of protein. The correct amount and sources of amino acids – based on individual factors, such as a horse’s age and weight – is essential to create strong topline muscles, from withers to hind quarters.

“The right nutritional balance, fed at the correct rates, may improve topline – both internally and visually – in as little as a few weeks,” said Keegan.

The equine veterinarian study was commissioned by Nutrena and conducted by AAEP. More than 400 veterinarians were surveyed in April 2016.


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