Magnesium the Magnificant Supplement!
MAGNESIUM is a well known supplement in the equine industry. If you haven't heard of it before now is your chance to find out! While there is a substantial list of supplements that horses can be given, Magnesium is one that I have personally used, and with amazing results. Even if you haven't used it on your horses, you may have used it for yourself. I regularly incorporate it into my own diet and find it is great for relieving muscle aches and pains. Working a physical job can be demanding on your whole body. I can tell you now that I have had my fair share of pulled and aching muscles, those thoroughbreds can be quite strong sometimes! Being a regular 'stress head' I have also used it to help my anxiety and stress levels. It is a very grounding element that horses tend to have very similar reactions to.
One experience I can recall is having a very temperamental, angry, up-tight thoroughbred. With showjumping experience, I received Frankie to progress him onto hopefully being a successful eventer. He sure did challenge me! Holistically minded I resorted to getting him treated with Bowen Therapy for any potential muscular problems. I then came across magnesium which I supplemented into his feed daily. Once I started using it I noticed a difference in his work. Previously bouncing-around on the spot, up-tight and resilient, we progressed to being able to finish a showjumping round unscathed. This is just one example of how magnesium has helped one of my horses over the years. I believe it's a reliable supplement for horses that are nervous, uptight, anxious and distracted. For a better understanding of how it works in the body, let's talk SCIENCE (IF you feel like taking in some big words).
Magnesium is essential for a horses cellular energy, without it the ATP energy systems cannot work to energize the body. It is also linked to other elements, which other body systems will struggle without. These include calcium, potassium, sodium, chloride and phosphate. Magnesium, calcium and potassium are required for the maintenance of electrolyte balance. Electrolytes are responsible for nerve and muscle contractions when a horse is moving or being exercised.
Other roles of magnesium include: Neurotransmitter release, neuronal excitation, skeletal muscle contraction and cardiac excitability. The performance of the cardiac system is directly related to changes in the levels of magnesium, deficiencies have been linked to cardiac arrhythmia (it is important to note horses such as race horses performing anaerobic high intensity exercise are putting extreme pressure on their heart). One major deficiency problem is called hypomagnesemia. This issue can contribute to a common racing problem called the 'thumps.' When hypomagnesemia occurs the body goes into dehydration and electrolyte imbalance. When sodium bicarbonate is in disproportion there is a gastric outflow obstruction. The calcium and magnesium are bound by the sodium bicarbonate resulting in hypomagnesemia. This is just one example and there are many other ways a deficiency can negatively affect performance. To test this, a blood or urine test can be conducted by your vet. They will be able to go through with you what your horse needs.
Common signs that magnesium may be needed in your horse's diet include;
- Distracted easily
- Muscle tremors/spasms
- Increased respiration
- Colic symptoms
- The inability to relax
Magnesium is also helpful for the common hoof issue, laminitis. This is because it has a large role for a horse's insulin resistance, sugar regulation and the breakdown of down soluble carbohydrates (i.e. lucerne or clover). Most magnesium supplements you can buy will have a suitable dosage amount on the label. Whatever the horse does not utilise will be excreted through urine. A possible side effect of a horse that may not absorb the magnesium sufficiently is diarrhoea.
Overall I am a big believer of using magnesium as a supplement for horses as it contributes to the horse's well being in a holistic manner. Not only used for the mind (calming nerves and anxious behaviours) but the body as well, making sure the muscles have the appropriate amount of energy to complete the task at hand. If you have made it through the 'high tech' scientific section and grasped how magnesium is AMAZING, purchasing it is not hard with many feed stores supplying it.
Allison. J. Stewart. Magnesium disorders in horses. The Journal of Equine Veterinary Science. April 2011. Cited 21-08-17
C.Wenzel. R.Wills. R.Wilson. R.Cobb. C.Swiderski. Intravenous magnesium sulfate as a rescue therapeutic for bronchoconstriction in equine pasture asthma, The Journal of Equine Veterinary Science. May 2017. Cited 21-08-17
Tania Cubitt, Feeding Magnesium to horses. Hygain 2015.. Cited 21-08-17