Treating Musculoskeletal Dysfunction
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What you didn't know about Brewer's yeast
Treating Musculoskeletal Dysfunction
Of all the concerns that owners contact me about in regards to their horses, musculoskeletal discomfort would have to be the most common.
Because of the diversity associated with musculoskeletal disorders, this article will focus on conditions that correlate with muscular dysfunction caused by soft tissue damage and compensation.
Because horses serve us very well and many, free from complaints, it is often an issue that is found long after the horses have initially experienced discomfort.
As a Naturopath, the aim is to work from a holistic viewpoint leaving no stone unturned so to speak.
This way we can try to find the cause and work towards eliminating any contributing factors and strengthening the body to ensure the weakened areas become healthy, supple and strong and the horse is no longer at risk of further injury.
There are several indicators we can look for when we are suspicious that our horse or pony may be uncomfortable due to muscle issues.
1. Fluid movement – when your horse is capable of transitioning movement with no ridgidity.
2. Lifting head in canter transition or from a walk to a trot.
3. Unable to flex without dropping a shoulder or hip to “cheat” the range of movement needed to flex. These horses will often drift across keeping their spine straight rather than to flex like a banana when asked.
4. Rushing – especially when riding in the arena, the horse will rush at the corners or will much prefer to canter. There may also be difficulty when performing slow rehab exercises.
5. Dull coat – it may be that your horse’s coat is completely dull. Alternatively the coat is glossy and magnificent…however on closer inspection you may notice a few dry patches over various areas. The dry areas can represent tissue adhesion, restricting the range of movement.
6. Cranky behaviour when approaching the arena.
7. Cranky behaviour when lunging which is also accompanied by rearing, bucking, pig rooting and generally unable or unwilling to lunge.
8. Osteoarthritis which in some cases may be present as bony changes.
9. Joint disorders affecting cartilage, ligament, tendon and bone. This may result in lameness or inflammation which will create
compensation of movement.
10. Hoof problems which cause the horse to compensate range of motion.
11. Tissue atrophy
You may have experienced one or many of the points above, or these may be something to keep in mind and make a note of when spending time with your horse either under saddle or in hand. You may indeed be spending time with a horse that complains very little and behaves very well. If this is the case, your horse is either suffering from no discomfort…or is working under duress.
If you feel that your horse is suffering from any of the above points, it will be worth contacting an Equine professional who can assess your horse and treat using modalities including Acupuncture, Shiatsu, Bowen Therapy, Craniosacral, Massage, Physio, Osteo, Equine Vet treatment….and the list goes on.
Your Equine body worker may use various assessment tools such as gait analysis, proprioception evaluation, posture assessment and palpation. In some cases however, diagnostic imaging may be required.
No matter which modality you choose, the result should be a horse displaying supple muscles and an improved range of motion.
While your horse may now appear to be physically fit and capable, this may be short lived.
The reason for this is because in many cases, treating your horse is just one part of the puzzle.
Because much time has often passed between the onset of muscular discomfort and treatment, horses learn how to protect the affected area by compensating with their movement. This causes much weakness to areas of the body which in turn initiates the risk of further injury.
To reduce this risk, a rehab program which focuses on slow movements will aid the horses form and control which will result in increased strength, muscle tone and proprioception (where the horse is in time and space).
If we ask a horse that has been suffering from muscular dysfunction to work in small circles or to be lunged, the brain will instantly tell the horse to avoid using any areas that have previously caused pain. This where you will see the issues begin to emerge all over again.
Start slowly and when asking the horse to flex, try this at a slow motion walk for only one stride.
When the horse is no longer protecting the weakened areas this can be increased to two steps and so on. There are numerous exercises to retrain the musculature (and brain) that your practitioner will be able to help you with. The trick is doing them consistently and not increasing the workload too early.
While many muscle injuries are caused by external trauma, many are caused by muscles strains and repetitive muscle strains. By working your horse correctly and incorporating exercises to strengthen the musculature, your horse is less likely to sustain an injury due to muscle fatigue and excessive straining.
Diet is another area that must always be considered. Excessive feeding where the horse is receiving increased digestible energy that exceeds the energy output will often result in that energy being dispelled in excitable behaviour. When the horse is not being offered a diet that meets the nutritional requirements this will also have a negative effect on the overall health of the horse including musculature.
Owners are always seeking supplements to maintain joint and musculature health, however unrestrained supplements will frequently negate the benefits.
Offering a diet free from nutritional shortfalls and offering herbal supplementation that will reduce inflammation and support joint health, along with bodywork and rehab will ultimately offer your horse the best chance of peak performance minus time out with muscle injuries.
Having this in mind, we formulated our joint maintenance formulas Move and Move+.
The Move was initially formulated using herbs that have been traditionally used to aid in the reduction of inflammation, to promote blood and lymphatic flow and to detoxify the body.
With so many owners having to then offer analgesics for horses who may still be suffering from significant discomfort, we decided to formulate Move+ which contains all of the benefits of the Move formula, with added analgesic.
Being a liquid extract, these formulas are absorbed in the blood capillaries almost immediately when offered directly into the mouth, or alternatively they are able to be added to a damp feed to be absorbed via the digestive tract.
With so much great feedback from owners, we are thrilled with the results, especially when paired up with the appropriate natural diet for the individual along with specific rehab exercises.
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What you didn't know about Brewer's yeast
What you didn’t know about Brewer’s Yeast
As horse owners we want our horses to have the absolute best in regards to nutritional support.
While we would have no idea of the intake of magnesium our nearest and dearest had yesterday, we feel a strong need to know how many milligrams our horse absorbs on a daily basis.
If you would like to look a little deeper into a readily available and rather cost effective ingredient that commonly finds its place in expensive products....keep reading.
When it comes to the health and wellbeing of your horse, there are numerous words that can be found on labelling that undoubtedly catches the eye of any caring horse owner.
The labels we often look for contain the following –
- Extra biotin to improve hoof health
- Amino acids
- Trace minerals
- Chromium to maintain normal blood sugar levels
- High quality protein
- Selenium, potassium, iron, zinc and magnesium
- B group vitamins to support the nervous system and aid in the relaxation of a nervous horse
- Toxin Binder
How about a supplement that helps to maintain digestive health and strengthen the immune system, or a product that feeds the bacteria that is responsible for the conversion of fibre into energy in the hindgut.
Many labels contain a "prebiotic" listed in their list of ingredients and because we are well aware that a prebiotic feeds the good microbes and allows them to grow and reproduce, this is especially beneficial and needed to ensure the health of our horse’s digestive tract.
By definition of the medical dictionary - prebiotic · a non-digestible food ingredient that selectively stimulates growth and metabolism of certain beneficial MICROORGANISMS in the GUT to improve health.
If you would like to know some of the specific ingredients that are prebiotics, they include plant material such as hay or alfalfa (lucerne) and if you are feeding beet pulp, you are already feeding a prebiotic. The good news is that you don't have to purchase this...you are already offering it to your horse.
The above listing of beneficial ingredients is indeed very long, and to include everything could well be incredibly expensive...but what if I told you that everything that is listed above is available in a very cost affective form?
The answer is saccharomyces cerevisiae. Take a moment to check any products you may have purchased that do any or all of the above, and check if the list of ingredients contains the words saccharomyces cerevisiae.
This supplement is commonly known as brewer's yeast and saccharomyces cerevisiae is the scientific name.
Numerous owners tell me that they once gave their horses brewer’s yeast and at that time their horses were as healthy as ever…however when visiting the feed store a glossy package with what looked like a long list of well balanced vitamins and minerals presented itself to them on the shelf. The high price tag was never the concern because the health of the horse is really what matters in the end.
So, the simply packaged high quality brewer’s yeast was no more and the expensive premixed vitamin and mineral mix then took centre stage.
Below are a few points that most horse owners may find interesting about this incredible supplement.
Although the horse produces B group vitamins in the hindgut, B1 (thiamine) is still required in the diet.
For horses who forage on green pastures, B1 can be obtained this way, or alternatively from Brewer’s yeast.
Increasing thiamine levels will support the nervous system and relax an anxious horse.
While B12 is a B group vitamin that will not be found in brewer’s yeast, the good news is, the microorganisms of the digestive tract have the ability to make B12 when the body has been offered an adequate supply of cobalt.
Because cobalt is not present in any plant material, brewer’s yeast offers you a great source which will greatly contribute to appetite, energy levels and performance.
Unlike every other B group vitamin which are water soluble, B12 can be stored in the body.
B7 is known as biotin and is a significant vitamin for owners to feed to their horse in regards to hoof and coat health.
As well as supporting enhancing coat and hooves, B7 has the ability to lower blood glucose as it stimulates the secretion of insulin from the pancreas.
If horses have the ability to produce B group vitamins themselves, why do we need to feed them?
Below is a list of horses who may be missing these vitamins.
- Senior horses with compromised digestive efficacy
- Horses suffering from dis-ease/ illness.
- When taking antibiotics causing a deficit of gut bacteria
- Parasite burden
- High grain diet
- Low pasture or poor pasture diet
While Brewer’s yeast is most well known for its abundance of B group vitamins, it also contains amino acids.
Many owners question how much protein their horses are getting from the food that they are eating, because we know that a high percentage of the body is made up of protein in the form of the musculature, the organs, the enzymes, antibodies and even the hormones!
When it comes to protein, it’s important to know that it is not the quantity of the protein that is important but rather the quality of the protein.
High quality proteins are those that are rich in essential amino acids whereas low quality proteins are low in essential amino acids.
The most important amino acids for horses are lysine, threonine, and methionine, especially for those that are still growing and for those who are in work. These particular amino acids are essential for muscle growth and cellular regeneration.
While brewer’s yeast contains numerous amino acids including the above, it is contains low amounts of methionine, however horses foraging on grass should receive sufficient amounts of methionine.
Horses require various minerals for numerous reasons including the structural integrity of the skeletal system, the function of the nervous system as well as enzymes and hormones.
Brewer’s yeast is a rich source of chromium, selenium, potassium, iron, zinc and magnesium, however lacks calcium and phosphorus.
To balance these shortfalls, the addition of legumes such as alfalfa (lucerne and clover) contains an abundance of calcium, whereas meadow grass and hay also contain calcium, however at much lower levels.
Phosphorus in the organic natural form can be found in various grains and by products such as wheat bran and rice bran, are also low in calcium and higher in phosphorus.
There are numerous toxin binders on the market and in recent times, their popularity has sky rocketed.
Saccharomyces cerevisiae (Brewer’s yeast) has the ability bond to particular mycotoxins which have the potential to have a negative effect on the horse’s immune system, and the ability to weaken and potentially damage the liver and kidneys.
For owners who battle photosensitivity which results in skin lesions and discomfort, year after year as a result of the endophyte (bacterium or fungus found within various plants) consumption from specific pasture species at different times of the year, again, saccharomyces cerevisiae can also be used as a toxin binder in these cases.
While this is another subject within itself, it is important to add that if your horse has been suffering from photosensitivity, this is an issue that may also involve the liver and therefore it is vital to contact your Equine Naturopath/Nutritionist to discuss the possibility of over supplementation and detoxification via herbal medicine.
In conclusion, this article has merely scraped the surface of all of the benefits of brewer’s yeast.
While as owners, we love to supplement our horses and offer them care that goes above and beyond, it is worth considering the impact of over supplementation along with the benefits of natural feeding and the use of a supplement such as brewer’s yeast.
Next time you visit your feed store and you see the benefits of the supplement in the glossy bag, stop and rethink the benefits of “saccharomyces cerevisiae”.
Not only will it cover everything promised on the labels of the well marketed supplements, it likely is the base of many of those products and will cost you only a fraction of the cost.
Go on…try it….your horses will love you for it!
Have a need that is not covered by our range of products? Get in contact as we offer custom formulations.