Amino Acids

Understanding how much of a good thing your horse needs.

Understanding how much of a good thing your horse needs.

What Are Amino Acids?

Amino acids are a biological building block that links together inside the horse’s body to create proteins. Those proteins form everything from muscle and organ tissue to enzymes, hormones, and antibodies. Amino acids are particularly helpful in cellular regeneration of muscle in performance horses.

Where Do Amino Acids Come From?

Horses’ bodies manufacture 12 of the 22 essential amino acids they need. The other 10 come from the grass, grain, supplements, and hay they eat. Their digestive tracks break down the food into amino acids and use them to build whatever elements the body needs.

Wrangler National Finals Rodeo qualifier Cheyenne Wimberley.
Photo by Dan Hubbell Rodeo Photos

What Happens If Horses Don’t Get Enough?

Lactating mares, growing colts, and horses in intense training have the highest protein requirements, and thus need the most amino acids. If horses do not consume enough of the amino acids their bodies need to regenerate cells from their stomachs to their muscles to their joints, they’re more susceptible to injury and recover from physical exertion more quickly. Common signs of an amino acid shortage are weight loss, poor hair and hoof growth, slow growth in young horses, and lost pregnancies in broodmares.

Supplementing Amino Acids

Equinety Horse XL offers eight amino acids—lysine, arginine, ornithine, glycine, leucine, isoleucine, valine, and glutamine—with no fillers, sugars, starches, or soy. These amino acids are specifically formulated to stimulate the horse’s pituitary gland, releasing the necessary hormones to help the body repair at a cellular level. (, $99.99)

About Chelsea Shaffer

Chelsea Shaffer is the Western editorial director for The Breakaway Roping Journal, The Team Roping Journal and Horse&Rider. A long-time advocate of women's roping, Shaffer won the 2017 WPRA Media Award for the promotion of the sport. A graduate of Ohio University's Honor's Tutorial College, Shaffer prioritizes solid news reporting and storytelling in her writing. She lives in Fort Lupton, Colorado, with her husband and daughter and is surrounded by breakaway ropers in her social circles.