How to Build a Horses Topline? Protein is Key.

How to Build a Horses Topline? Protein is Key.

Building your horses topline is a common goal for many equestrians, and sometimes it can feel like an elusive one! Helping your horse to build topline can be easier than you ever thought, but first let's see why horses lose topline condition, then we'll share some ways to help your horse build up their topline muscle.

Why do horses need to build topline muscle?

Some horses may never have built a strong topline.

You may have:

  • a new horse who just 'won't put on condition', or
  • a young horse who hasn't 'filled out' yet, or
  • a tense horse who is always nervous and uses loads of energy, or
  • an off the track thoroughbred who everyone says is a 'typical OTTB'. (Have a quick peek at our transformations page before you decide what a 'typical' OTTB looks like; there are some super chunky thoroughbreds on there! 😉)

Many horses lose topline, sometimes quite quickly.

This can be due to a range (or combination) of factors like:

  • heavy work / using too much energy / being fed too little,
  • aging,
  • the wrong nutrition mix for them,
  • lack of exercise,
  • moving 'hollow' when ridden, 
  • the 'nervousness - ulcers - pain - nervousness' loop,
  • lack of adequate cool-down leaving them tense and sore,
  • or the kicker; lack of protein in the horse's diet.

How to build your horses topline in 3 easy steps

Step One - Exercise

It may seem odd that to build bulk you have to burn energy, but this is just the same for humans - if we don't workout, we don't get gains. Your horse needs to move to build topline muscle, but it's very important that they move the right way.

Here are some tips:

  • Ensure that your horse works in a good collected frame most of the time, and encourage them to stretch their head down when cooling down or taking a break from more collected work. A horse working correctly in a soft, collected frame is using the topline muscles and these will get stronger. This is important for achieving an elegant, elevated movement, strengthening and protecting the horses back while working, and also for improving your horse's balance and athleticism. 
  • Experiment with pole work to ensure that your horse is lifting through their frame and engaging the muscles along their back as they work to lift their hooves a little higher than normal. Pole work is great exercise for low impact, high energy training.
  • Find some great groundwork exercises like backing uphill, lunging in a collected frame, working with the head down and topline stretched. Look for a lifted ribcage and spine, and encourage your horse to move smoothly and with power. Check out this guide from the FEI for some handy exercises.
  • Be aware that your horse is never working hollow while ridden. If you need guidance with this, do reach out to a great riding coach in your area, and ideally find one who has an understanding of bodywork for horses.

Step Two - Nourish your athlete

Ensure that your horse is getting the right kind of nutrition for the work they do. We highly recommend finding a nutrition expert who can explain how much your horse needs to eat and what feeds are ideal for their situation. If in doubt, check out this great guide from Feed XL's Horse Nutrition Calculator which will help you get started.

Remember that your horse's nutrition needs will change with the season, temperatures, drought or flooding, and with the amount of work they perform.

They will also need different nutrition as they get older. Don't worry, we have been sent some gorgeous transformations of older horses who are not in regular work but have picked up condition dramatically JUST with the addition of Step 3, which is...


Step 3 - Give your horse's muscles the building blocks for growth

Maximise topline muscle development by feeding a post-workout protein supplement which targets the muscles that have just been worked. Protein is key to ensure maximum 'gains' in your horse's topline muscle. 

The timing and quality of nutrients that a horse is fed in the immediate post-workout period can have a huge impact on the amount of muscle that a horse builds from work; and the most important nutrient for your horse immediately after exercise is protein!

Unlike bulky hardfeed, Muscle Max Bar is designed to be fed when you are untacking your horse. This is because horses' muscle activity peaks in the first 20 minutes after exercise. By giving the horse easily absorbed proteins and amino acids in a handy-to-feed bar, their body gets just what they need at the peak demand time. (Learn more about the science here).

Because protein is the building block for muscle development and our bars are safe to feed right after their workout, the highly accessible, quality protein in Muscle Max Bar helps your horse build topline.

Take our 6 Week Satisfaction Challenge!

We know that Muscle Max Bar for horses deliver a dose of topline building protein right when the horse's body needs it most - right after exercise!

You might be surprised at how little Muscle Max Bar you need to feed  to see impressive changes in your horses topline - most horses only require half a bar three times a week, or a whole bar if they do a strenuous workout.

Providing protein right after exercise helps your horse build muscle - instead of 'using' muscle, and losing topline!  

Try it now - we guarantee the results, or your money back!

Find out how to take the challenge now, and start seeing your horse build topline muscle within 3-6 weeks. 


Check out the incredible transformations equestrians have achieved with their horses building topline muscle, often in less than 3 weeks!