Daily exercise and regular turn-out are important for maintaining muscle in horses with disorders in muscle integrity. An active or open stable can be helpful because of the opportunity for daily movement. If this is not possible or appropriate, daily paddock access is important. Stall rest is generally considered counterproductive. When the horse’s health allows, daily training, including lunging, riding, groundwork, or simple walking helps maintain muscle strength and condition.
Tip: Take photos and videos of your horse from different angles and while moving at different gaits. Retake these photos about 2 months after you have made a change in feeding and/or handling/exercise routines. This will allow you to compare the body composition and movement of the horse to objectively evaluate how it has responded to the changes.
Most horses with symptoms muscle integrity disorders are very sensitive to the cold and to wet weather. To prevent symptoms from worsening in cold weather, blanketing is recommended. the appropriate temperature is individual to each horse and monitoring is necessary to ensure that they do not overheat – the back should be warm but not hot and the horse should not sweat.
Lower temperatures may increase muscle stiffness noticeable during exercise/riding, which may be a clue that the horse requires a warmer blanket. Use of a solarium or heated blanket before exercise may also be helpful.
Tip: When you start making changes, keep a daily logbook to note changes in feeding, exercise, stressors, and symptoms. You can then look back at this and detect trends so you can evaluate what management and environmental changes may be influencing your horse’s symptoms.