The answers to the big muscle quiz in the former blogpost:
1. About 45 to 55 percent of a horse’s body is made up of muscles. In humans, that is around 40 percent.
2. No. Some are consciously controlled. Others, such as the heart muscle, work completely by themselves. You can order yourself to move your arm, but your heart won’t beat faster if you want to.
3. A horse can never get more muscles. The amount of muscle cells he has is hereditary. What is possible is that you increase the muscle volume, in other words, a muscle becomes thicker through training. This is because more substances are stored in it.
4. Proteins are the building blocks, carbohydrates and fats provide energy. But it is not wise to give your horse huge amounts of it when you want to make him more muscular. This requires training in combination with a precisely tailored ration. From too much energy a horse becomes fat, not muscular.
5. On the contrary. Did no one taught you never to swim with a full stomach? The same principle applies to horses. After eating, the glucose level in the blood rises. This is followed by a dip after two to three hours, which makes a horse slow. Feeding before riding is also not necessary. Muscle cells contain a supply of energy. It has to be built up and that takes a while. Moreover, this only happens if energy has been used up by movement. Incidentally, feeding roughage is always good, because it contains relatively little energy that only slowly enters the body.
6. You have red muscle cells and white and a mixed form. Unlike humans, horses are more likely to have much more of one type of muscle cell. You have varieties that are particularly suitable for endurance efforts, while others give more explosive power.
7. The red give stamina, the white are for power explosions and the mix can be made suitable for either of them by training. That can also be undone and transformed, but it will take some time.
8. Have you ever seen what an arm or leg looks like after a while in a cast? It becomes a thin stick. The muscles seem to have disappeared, but they are not. They just got thinner. When muscles are no longer stimulated, for example because a saddle pinches the controlling nerves, the size decreases.
9. It is often thought that muscle pain means that muscle cells are ruptured. If that is the case, it is a serious and even dangerous health situation, because the contents of those cells act as a poison. Training does cause a little damage to muscles. However, it is about cracks in the proteins, not the cell itself. This slight damage prompts the body to repair and the so-called “overcompensation” by building in some extra reserve to be able to cope with the effort next time. And that is exactly what we want.
10. We usually have muscle pain a day after an effort and it disappears a day later. With a horse this can last up to three days. This is due to the plant-based low-energy diet, which means that recovery takes longer.
11. No. A well-tailored ration helps, but a horse is simply built to handle high-fiber, low energy roughage. He becomes ill from large amounts of quickly digestible sugar rich hard feed.
12. Haha, trick question. A horse has no muscles in his lower legs.
Some training tips:
• The neck is a flexible garden hose that can go in all directions
• By varying between effort and relaxation you build muscle
• Always vary posture and pace during a workout
• Good training is a form of physiotherapy
• Muscular pain manifests itself in a horse later than in a human