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.
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.
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.
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