How to Speed Up Horse Recovery After Race

Table of Contents

How to Speed Up Horse Recovery After Race

Table of Contents

Like an athlete unable to run another marathon the next day, a racehorse also requires a period of recovery after each race to prevent injuries and maintain their peak physical condition. Racing subjects their bodies to immense physical strain, taxing their muscles, bones, and joints. They need time to rest and recover. 

But how much time does a horse need to recover after a race? Why is it essential that they do? And If there is another race approaching, how can you assist these muscles to heal and get your horse’s body ready and able to take the strain of another race? 

This article will answer these questions and show how advancements in veterinary science, particularly carnosine studies, have shown promising results in aiding muscle healing. This innovative approach could be key in preparing a racehorse’s body to withstand the rigors of frequent racing.

What Happens To Your Horse’s Body During a Strenuous Race?

During a race, a horse’s bones are subjected to intense loads with every gallop. These stresses stimulate a process called bone remodeling, where old bone tissue is broken down and new bone tissue is then formed. This process ensures the bone structure becomes more robust and resilient in areas with the greatest stress. However, this same process can damage the bone permanently if not given the opportunity to heal.

The highest loads occur in the fetlock and carpal (knee) joints and consequently, these are the joints that are most commonly injured. These joints must flex and extend rapidly while bearing the full weight of the horse’s body, which can lead to joint inflammation. And inflammation causes pain, stiffness, and reduced mobility.

So, in order to address these two issues, namely bone remodeling and inflammation, just how much recovery time is enough?

How Long Will a Horse Take To Recover Post-Race?

For each race, It could take approximately 1-2 days for lung recovery, around 2-3 days for the gastrointestinal tract, muscles, and liver energy reserves to recuperate, about 5-7 days for the restoration of electrolyte balance and stores, 7-10 days for muscle repair, nearly two weeks for the immune system to bounce back, and 3-4 weeks for the recovery of bones, tendons, and joints, provided there are no actual injuries. [3]

The more intense or longer the race, the longer the recovery period a horse needs. For instance, endurance horses will likely need one month to recover fully

A specialist in equine surgery, Professor Chris Whitton, recommends that most horses need eight weeks of rest following a 16 to 20-week campaign. In addition to the rest period, he also highlights the importance of a controlled reintroduction to training, stating that this combination will lead to fewer injuries and prolong your horse’s career. [1]

So, while there is no one-size-fits-all answer, in general, a horse will take a few weeks to fully recover from a strenuous race. However, you can assist muscle, joint and ligament health and recovery to speed up the recovery process. How?

How Carnosine Speeds Up Recovery

It goes without saying that the healthier and stronger a horse’s bones, muscles, ligaments and tendons are, the easier it will be for them to recover from a strenuous race.

Interestingly, studies have shown a high concentration of a dipeptide called Carnosine in the horse’s muscle. And that this dipeptide can significantly reduce the damaging effects of inflammation on a horse’s body. [2]

When a horse runs, its muscles need energy to work. The energy creation leads to the production of lactic acid as a byproduct, lowering the PH of the muscles. During high intensity exercise, the rate at which the body produces lactic acid exceeds the rate at which it can dispose of it. This creates an acidic environment that can lead to muscle fatigue, decreased endurance and muscle cramps. 

Carnosine works as a buffer, stabilizing the PH levels in muscles. This process helps reduce fatigue and support the horse’s muscles during intense exercise. The presence of carnosine in muscles can also aid in recovery post-race. By mitigating the effects of lactic acid and oxidative stress, it helps muscles recover more efficiently, reducing soreness and the risk of injury.

Introducing Carnosine supplementation to your recovery plan

As mentioned, Carnosine is a naturally occurring dipeptide found in a horse’s body. By increasing carnosine levels, we can increase the positive effects – Both before and after a race. 

A carnosine gel that can be applied to the chosen muscle group can provide a direct and concentrated approach. In this regard, Chemipower, along with a team of scientists, has formulated a product called CarnoGEL. We recommend applying the gel to the muscle groups that undergo much stress during a race at least 60 minutes before the start and then again after the race as part of your recovery program.

Important muscle groups to focus on

What are important muscle groups to focus on both before and after a race?

The gluteal muscles are the large muscles on the horse’s hindquarters. They are responsible for extending the hip joint, which propels the horse forward. Another important muscle group is the hamstrings in the back of the thigh. And lastly, the quadriceps are primarily responsible for extending the stifle joint (similar to the human knee). They play a significant role in stabilizing the horse’s legs during these high-impact moments, ensuring that the horse maintains balance and coordination. 

Applying CarnoGel to these muscle groups before and after a race can assist an equine athletes endurance levels and aid in post-race recovery.


Each horse is unique, and their ability to recover well after a race depends on various factors, such as their overall fitness, nutrition and age. However, these factors aside, all horses will benefit from the added help that Carnosine gives. 

By applying a gel directly to the target muscles, joints and tendons – You can significantly increase its positive effects. And you can trust CarnoGEL because it is doping-free and approved for use by all sports federations. 

If you would like to know more about carnosine, see our in depth article here.