Tag Archives: senior horse

Product Review: CVL EX-Cell Pure Amino Acids

Lately, I’ve been hearing a lot of hype about amino acids in horses, and the multitude of benefits they can provide. Known as “the building blocks of life,” BCAA’s (branched chain amino acids) are naturally occurring compounds that combine to form proteins. While horses use 22 of the roughly 500 amino acids that exist on earth, their bodies only produce 12 of those 22. The 10 remaining “essential” amino acids are obtained through proper nutrition – lysine, methionine, arginine, histidine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, valine, leucine and isoleucine.

Amino Acids – What do they do?

Imagine a Lego set: each color block has a specific size, shape, and purpose in the kit. If the kit calls for a blue block, but say you lost it one Christmas under your couch, it doesn’t matter how many red or green blocks you have, the final model won’t be able to come together properly.

That’s essentially how aminos work in the body; if a particular protein isn’t available, the body can’t substitute it with a different amino acid and the protein can’t be made. The most commonly deficient amino acids in horses are lysine, methionine, and threonine. Lysine is responsible for bone and skeletal health. Methionine is essential for keratin/biotin systems and vital for the growth and maintenance of coat, hair, skin, and hoof health, plus promotes the bio-availability of selenium. Threonine promotes overall growth, muscle mass retention and efficient use of feed, plus helps with the endocrine system and hormone production to support overall good body condition and energy levels. While horses can achieve proper nutrition levels of these essential aminos through hay consumption, most domestic horses do not get the grazing and pasture time they need to ingest the levels of forage that will get their levels to the proper rate. Other factors come into play like hay quality, soil content, activity levels, and other preexisting conditions.

CVL Ex-Cell Pure Amino Acids

The no-fuss, no-nonsense formula by Cox Vet Labs provides pure amino acids with no fillers, sugars, starches that “provides maximum endurance, faster recovery and focus while hauling and showing.” I liked the fact there were no sugars or starches, as Tego has Cushing’s, and the added superfood astaxanthin is beneficial for muscle and osteo support.

According to the label, each scoop of Ex-Cell packs a potent 5900 mg of CVL1000, the specially formulated amino blend created by Cox Vet Lab. It includes Lysine, Arginine, Ornithine, Glycine, Leucine, Isoleucine, Valine, Glutamine, and Axtaxanthin.

Before and After – My Story

After reading about the effects of amino acid deficiencies and the positive effects CVL Ex-Cell Pure Amino Acids advertised, I wanted to try the Ex-Cell out for myself. Of my two horses, I have a 21-year old OTTB, Tego, that is a little on the hard keeper side, and have been struggling to build muscle mass and keep his weight where I’m happy with during the winter. Plus, he’s prone to chronic scratches on his rear pasterns/heel bulbs and has a bit of a dull, slightly wiry coat. He also had a slower healing time from some random scrapes and bites he had received in turnout.

I recently added some additional quality alfalfa and warm soaked shredded beet pulp to his feeding regiment, but I wasn’t overly enthused with the results. His muscle mass wasn’t building evenly throughout his topline, and he had some minor wasting along the top of his right rear even after doing slow walk work over poles and on the ground. He also started some weird skin condition on the left side of his neck and the top of his back that wasn’t quite a fungus but left a dry, flaky residue – almost like dandruff, but chunkier.

Note: the slightly shadowed area on his neck is that weird fungus I was dealing with
Relatively shiny coat, but minimal muscle throughout the topline and shoulder
Note the more dramatic slope along the right hind.

Over the next 30 days, I decided to give Tego the recommended booster dose over the course of two weeks (2 scoops/day) and then ease to 1 scoop for the rest of the month as maintenance. I did not change anything else to his routine, and kept his work/turnout/feeding regiment the same. If anything, I rode him less due to my busy schedule and the cold – plus, I had my other gelding, Rotti, to keep up and in shape.

The first test to any new supplement I try is if my horses eat it. Tego is a notoriously picky eater, so I often have to mask his meds by soaking with his food or put into a molasses treat. At first, Tego sniffed and ate around the Ex-Cell when I put a scoop on top of his, but after I mixed it, he ate it no problem. So, picky eater approved! It does not have any strong or offensive odor, if anything it smells a little like yeast.

The Astaxanthin gives the Ex-Cell its unique pink hue, a unique chemical that causes the pink/red color in salmon, lobster, and shrimp!

I’ll be honest – I was not expecting to see any “wow” results. I figured, Tego’s an old horse, I’m sure he’s not going to turn into some spring chicken.

HOW WRONG I WAS.

This horse was moving in ways I have NEVER seen him go. From turnout and acting like a 3-year old colt to his stamina improving under saddle, within 2 weeks I already knew there was something brewing – and it was definitely a good thing.

By the end of the 30 days, his coat and skin condition and majorly improved (the weird fungus on his neck disappeared!), his body condition had filled out, and his muscle mass was noticeably improved. Even the unevenness of his hind end was significantly better! While the scratches didn’t completely go away, they definitely lessened in size, and are easier to manage. Plus, on the days I didn’t get to ride, when his ankles would get a little puffy, they didn’t get nearly as stocked up and with a 5 minute walk would minimize in inflammation.

So shiny!!!!!

Final Thoughts

For anyone on the fence about trying new supplements, I will attest this is one that Tego will never go a day without it again. In such a short amount of time, I was blown away by the results. Tego is a much happier horse, I might even put Rotti on it, too!

It really works!

Enjoy the ride,
Colleen C. – Purchasing Specialist

Caring for Senior Horses

Childhood Dreams to Adult Responsibility

I remember the first time I met Copper, as a completely horse-crazy pre-teen. He was this sassy little four-year old that came as a package deal to a far more seasoned horse. My first thought for Copper was “no way, not MY horse”.

After several years on the farm, I was tasked with continuing his training to help family, and soon discovered an honest and willing partner. We both just needed time to mature and to realize what a cool team we could make! Who would have thought the horse I didn’t want as a kid, would become the horse I would never sell?

We had shown Dressage for years, dabbled in several other disciplines (to be honest we weren’t amazing in any of them, be he was always willing to let me try it out) and found our way to many fun trails. Not bad for a little Quarter Horse!

Cherokee was my “step-up” horse that came into my life about the same time I realized Copper and I were pretty good teammates. Life changes had us part ways for nearly ten years, but in February of 2019, he came back to me to live out his years. While he is twenty-four years young, he’s not the spry teenager he once was.

The dreaded grey horse – surprisingly, Dream Scout “Cherokee” isn’t THAT hard to keep clean! He once had a dark grey mane and tail with deep dapples – now he’s almost completely light grey!

Both of these horses played a pivotal role in my childhood, shaping me into the Equestrian I am today. It is both an honor and a privilege to care for them as they continue aging into their senior years.

Easing Into the Older Years

I have been able to watch Copper as he ages. It hasn’t been sudden or abrupt – it has been gradual changes through the years. It was in the moments of hearing clicking joints, feeling him take longer to warm up, and noticing he doesn’t keep muscle tone over the winter like he used to, that I learned I needed to adjust with him.

Cherokee’s changes were a little bit harder for me to experience. When came back into my care, he needed improvement. I immediately worked on bringing him back to his former shine, which included dental care, complete nutrition and building his fitness. I discovered along the way, that senior health care can be improved dramatically with a few key factors.

Mobility

All horses need to be able to stretch out, not just seniors. Older horses might be a little slower out of the stall, but to keep them in great health, the need that fresh air and movement! The mantra “use is or lose it” applies here. While I don’t ride intense workouts like I used to, I try to keep Copper and Cherokee in motion daily from turnout in their winter paddock, as well as turnout in a large field for them to run, hand grazing or riding. It’s harder to accomplish in the rainy season – but it truly helps their body and mind.

What a difference Mega-Flx has made – I like that it’s extremely palatable, both horses eat it eagerly.

I help combat the joint discomfort by feeding Spectra’s Mega-Flx to both horses to help with their joints and mobility. Mega-Flx helps reduce inflammation and provides key amino acids, MSM and HA.

Blanketing and Coat Growth

A heated topic among equestrians  is often whether or not to blanket. With blanketing, there is no “one size fits all” method. Some older horses grow glorious coats, while others may need the additional help to maintain their weight and not use up their calories trying to stay warm. This year has been a disaster for coat growth – our temperatures have been so unpredictable and unseasonably warm, so neither Copper nor Cherokee grew a heavy coat. While they are in excellent weight, I don’t feel comfortable letting them go out “naked” on really cold, windy or heavy rainfall/snowfall days. They are turned out for twelve hours a day, without a run-in, so they usually need an extra layer of protection.

The Country Pride 1680D Rainier Heavyweight Turnout Blanket is perfect for the occasional blizzard in Northeast Ohio! I have four blankets of varying insulation per horse so I can rotate depending on the weather – always pay attention, especially if the weather changes often!

I use a rain sheet for the chilly days and light rain when I need just a protective shell (usually anything with rain under 45°F). I go for a midweight like the Arctic Breeze when I need some warmth (usually days between 20°-30°F) and a heavyweight turnout blanket for really cold and wet days (under 20°). The forecast always plays an important role each morning, determining if they need a blanket, sheet, or can go au naturale!

Nutrition

One of the most important factors for keeping a senior horse healthy, is their ability to eat and utilize their food. First and foremost, teeth should be checked regularly. While I check their mouths often, I also schedule a dental float with my veterinarian annually to keep them in tip top shape.

I first soak alfalfa cubes (I usually refill the bucket after the prior feeding and let it soak overnight/during the day), add beet pulp, weigh their grain, then finally top dress with their supplements. I soak the entire bucket in hot water for a couple of minutes – then feed. They love their grain mashes!

I provide 24/7 access to quality hay, but Cherokee has started quidding more frequently (chewing up hay bits then spitting them out) as he loses more teeth. To supply him with the calories he loses from quidding, I have added soaked alfalfa cubes and beet pulp to his morning and evening rations. Both horses are fed Buckeye Nutrition grain for a complete diet. Copper eats Gro N Win in the Spring/Summer months and transitions to Safe N Easy in the colder months for extra nutritional support. Cherokee has maintained beautifully on EQ8 Senior; he used to have loose stool, but the probiotics along with added beet pulp has balanced him out! 

I have recently added dac E Natural to help with muscle support and topline for Cherokee and dac Oil to both of their diets for the Omega 3 benefits. I’m already seeing some filling in Cherokee’s hindquarters – I can’t wait to see more improvement!

Final Words

It sometimes takes trial and error to find the perfect combination for your senior- but that’s okay! Start with the basics, and go from there. Just remember to be kind and forgiving as they slow down – they deserve the same dignity now as they were given in their youth.

Written by Marketing Associate, Cassie Huprich