The horse accesses two fuel sources reserves, Glycogen for high heartbeat work and fats for lower heartbeat work. The amount of reserves they have stored for potential use varies according to genetic capability, total dietary input, and energy density of the feed, ease of assimilation and feed conversion and energy expenditure. In total the amount of Glycogen stored in the horse unhampered by stress and insufficiency equates to approximately 3½ minutes worth of which nearly 90% is available for kinetic energy the rest being vital for liver function to produce red blood cells, help maintain immunity and fuel for a number of other tissue functions. The amount of energy reserves in the form of fats can equally vary considerably in theory if all available for access possibly more than 18 hours’ worth before actual cell degeneration takes place to provide energy (break down of protein).
At steady low heartbeat the horse is running on fats, there is time for fats to be burnt and produce energy any sudden rise in heartbeat requires the faster provision of energy and the horse clicks into using its glycogen stores until the conversion of fats into energy can catch up (second wind) or the exertion is beyond the horses capability to burn fats quick enough. When high heartbeat is sustained approaching close to VO2 max then muscles can only be fuelled by glycogen. Such a complex scenario of variables results in hundreds of possibilities occurring. Genetics plays a huge part in the horse’s reserve capacity of both fats and glycogen the simplest example of this being seen in the difference in the Racehorse and the Carthorse. Overall health and the avoidance, as much as possible of stress, has such immense ramifications that consideration of these facts are quite enough near alone the finer points of energy reserves and critical utilization nevertheless in every performance horse the following rules and facts apply –
1. The most potent source of energy supply is ‘full reserve’ of glycogen that is because as glycogen reserves are used so they are further from combustion so less efficient the fuel becomes and the horse that starts the race fully topped up with glycogen will always prevail (everything else being equal) over the horse that starts with half a tankful, quite the opposite to the motor car.
2. The higher the heartbeat reaches still using fats the less glycogen will be needed. Top performance is all about sparing glycogen and a sort of argument in the same vein applies to the most movable fat stores for it is these that that can be quickly mobilized.
3. Stress upsets everything. Storage of energy and the utilization of it. It’s expensive in as much as there are many more inroad into limited glycogen reserves by sudden elevated heartbeat elevations as seen by the form shown by horses encountering problems before the start, arriving at the venue upset and anxious at the start. Stress causes metabolic function to diminish and the body’s ability to convert carotene to Vitamin A, use Vitamin A and also vital Vitamin E and other vitamins.
In every case there is a strong argument for feeding Lecithin, energy cannot be transferred from one muscle to another lecithin distributes fats to the muscle cells more evenly better distribution means less likelihood of one group of muscles letting the side down whilst energy from other cells is far from exhausted. Lecithin also reduces the “hard to access” fats this means more “fast fats” able to be burnt at higher heartbeat indirectly aiding glycogen sparing. Lecithin also directly influences glycogen sparing by help in Glycogenesis and Gluconeogenesis increasing the body’s production of glycogen (cell stored carbohydrate). It also has a profound effect on how the mind and the body deals with stress, Lecithin contains two vital nutrients Choline and Inositol both are in the most accessible and efficient forms vital for brain concentration and thought function.
HOW LECITHIN 50 CAN IMPROVE PLEASURE HORSE HEALTH
Although there is no need for the glycogen sparing consequences of feeding supplementary lecithin to the non-athletic horses there can be situations when there is a distinct reason for doing so this is because its fat moving properties are of marked importance in helping EMS (Equine Metabolic Syndrome) and in helping to offset the onset of Cushing’s disease.
To a large extent the nature of the problem of EMS inhibits the feeding of water soluble carbohydrates so energy from fats become predominate. This onus on fat utilisation is not helped by impaired fat distribution which results poor cell deposition and with it poor circulation of fat soluble vitamin any curtailment of which impairs the metabolism even more. Beta carotene/Vitamin A sufficiency increasingly drops denying the horse assimilation and use of a whole raft of nutrients fed however well calculated the diet the same for and all important Vitamin E critically required at differing levels in different organs a particular instance of this being the elevated levels required in the pituitary gland which quickly becomes inadequate despite vitamin supplementation.
Maintaining varying amounts of dietary lecithin to augment endogenous levels compromised by age and metabolic mal-function is a primary way of helping horses retain their health and vitality and be more treatable when necessary with less secondary input.
FOOTNOTE – INTESTINAL ULCERS
Trial evidence indicates that the degree of severity of gastric erosions and gastric ulcers show a marked reduction after 10 days of lecithin feeding. Although 10 days is too short a period for the disappearance of ulcers the contrast with controls when no extra lecithin is fed is quite specific.
Feeding LECITHIN 50
LEVEL 1 TWO MEASURES PER DAY 33g LECITHIN/DAY 2KG LECITHIN 50/MONTH
LEVEL 2 FOUR MEASURES PER DAY 66g LECITHIN/DAY 4KG LECITHIN 50/MONTH
LEVEL 3 SIX MEASURES PER DAY 99g LECITHIN/DAY 6KG LECITHIN 50/MONTH