February and most horses have not been on the grass for several months. As the owner we are fed up with the rain and mud and we cannot wait until spring arrives and everything is fresh green again and the horses can go back onto the land.
Fortunately, we can usually continue training with our horses in the winter period, but the horse sometimes feels a bit stiffer and recovers less easily after intensive training. Would there then have been a shortage of vitamin E?
Vitamin E for the muscles
Work and training cause minor damage to the muscles, which releases waste products (free radicals). These waste products can cause stiffness and cramps in the muscles. It is therefore important that these free radicals are removed and that the muscle cells are protected against them. And that’s the function of vitamin E: acting as a powerful antioxidant and protecting cells from these free radicals. In addition, it helps to repair the damage and thus prevent stiffness and cramps.
It is also important to know “the more intensively a horse works, the higher the need for vitamin E”.
Provide extra vitamin E in the winter period
During the grazing season, most horses get enough vitamin E through fresh grass, which is the main source of vitamin E for horses. Of course, this may be insufficient for some horses if there is, for example, a muscle disease or if horses are trained very intensively.
As soon as horses no longer have access to fresh grass, the main source of vitamin E disappears. Vitamin E is partly stored in the tissues until it is needed to be used, so a shortage does not arise overnight. But as soon as the stock in the body is used up, the first complaints will arise. You can recognize a vitamin E deficiency by:
- Lack of concentration and more sensitive
- Muscle pain and stiffness
- Accelerated aging process
- Resistance issues
Stiffness and musscle pain in particular are signs that the horse is not feeling well and that a vitamin E deficiency may be developing. And at the end of winter, the chances of it occurring are greatest and it is wise to start providing extra vitamin E. The basic requirement (no work) of vitamin E for a horse is 500-1000 IU of vitamin E per day, but this requirement increases quickly as soon as the horse is in training.
Conclusion: Supplement vitamin E in the 2nd half of winter
Do you run into stiffness problems with your horse? Then think of vitamin E! Horses receive vitamin E through fresh grass. Your horse may therefore run into a shortage in this second half of winter and could use some extra supplementation. Always choose natural, high-dose vitamin E and preferably without selenium.