18 December, 2013
The problem: Many horses begin their athletic careers prior to reaching maturity. Many racehorses, for instance, train and compete before they are two years old. The change in environment from the breeding farm, where horses typically spend much of their time outdoors, to the training stable, where horses are stabled nearly the entire day, is quite dramatic. Changes in environment and athletic effort place significant stress on immature bones and joints, and many horses are unable to withstand the physical pressures of heavy training at a young age. Statistics show that thousands of young horses are afflicted with bone-related lamenesses, and many become unfit for racing because of these injuries.
The solution: Maximizing bone density is critical in improving bone strength and preventing skeletal injuries. Forming and maintaining strong, well-mineralized bone can act as insurance policies against injuries. Although other factors play into injury, increasing bone density by building stronger bone is vital. In addition to systematic and conscientious training, this can be achieved through optimal nutrition.
Bone engages in a continuous cycle of remodeling that is significantly influenced by nutrition. The skeleton is made up of more than calcium. Other minerals such as magnesium, sodium, and potassium are essential in bone-building processes. Aside from minerals, another major component of bone is the protein collagen. Bone can be compared to reinforced concrete with calcium and other minerals as the cement and collagen as the reinforcing rods. The task: provide horses with the nutritional constituents necessary to form sound bone, especially during stressful periods in the training programs of young horses or anytime athletic horses are housed primarily in stalls.
The technology: A nutritionally balanced diet containing good-quality forage and fortified concentrate cannot always support the stresses placed on the skeleton of performance horses, young and old. The result: Researchers at Kentucky Equine Research (KER) developed DuraPlex, a proprietary blend of specific proteins, minerals, and vitamins scientifically proven to increase bone mineral density and bone area in growing horses and performance horses. Research trials revealed that exercised Thoroughbreds showed positive changes in bone quality after just one month of supplementation. DuraPlex was also shown to prevent the natural demineralization that occurs when access to free-choice exercise is restricted.