Equine Nutrition

This is the latest newsletter from the good folks over at Equine Challenge:

Spring is here…..rain, lush green grass, softer hooves, more thrush, shedding coats, foaling and so much more.

For those who own the easy keeper horses that have access to that lush green grass…daily diligence is required. Some horses have that “thrift” gene making them much more efficient storing energy, aka fat. In the wild this would be a great genetic advantage, especially given 24/7 predator stress, moving up to 25 miles a day in search for food and water. But to domesticated horses, especially those who do not have access to movement and pretty much have no predator stress, this is a great disadvantage.

If you have one of these “thrift” gene horses such as a Morgan, Arabian, Canadian, Paso Fino, the American Mustang, all of the pony breeds, it might be a good thing to check the digital pulse of your horse everyday. I would recommend taking the digital pulse especially on the two front feet daily. The picture provided is a good way to find the digital pulse, if you use two fingers rather than one, you will increase the chances of finding the pulse.

If your your horse has a strong rebounding pulse, which is not good, it will be difficult to miss. If you get in the habit of testing daily, you will be able set a great foundation for establishing what is normal for your horse and what is not normal. If you find it difficult to find the pulse or you must really concentrate to find the pulse, your horse is probably in great shape.

If you wait to check the pulse after your horse is noticeably in pain, the recovery is much slower and the horse will suffer unnecessarily.

These easy keeper horses NEED EXERCISE everyday to burn off that extra sugar or glucose. It will make a big difference! You don’t necessarily have to ride them, the round pen or arena is great, even long walks. It is better to get the heart rate and respiration up a bit, a slow leisurely walk is better than nothing but the slow long leisurely walk is the least desirable exercise.

If your horse is already tender, the exercise will be more painful for the horse and painful to watch. The cold water soaks of the inflamed hooves in a creek or foot bath is wonderful. Most would go to Bute for pain, be mindful that Bute is quite damaging to the gut and is the leading cause of HYPOthyroid in horses.

The best prevention to this problem is not to get it……if you are already struggling with this problem, Equine Challenge™ Laminae 911 will be very helpful, without the gut stress and thyroid problems caused by BUTE. There is however, no substitution for daily exercise and changes in diet.

Far too many horse owners across the USA who try to avoid these complications by starving their horses and the market place is flooded with gadgets to help avoid the inconvenience of daily stewardship of the horse. It is IMPOSSIBLE to starve your horse into a metabolically thriving horse.

If you are soaking forage/grass prior to feeding, know that you are washing away more than glucose or sugar and remember your horse is a carbohydrate and fat burning machine. If you are soaking forage, you MUST replace what is being soaked away short of the sugar/glucose and MUST make available what the forage was deficient in before the soaking. Equine Challenge™ Vitamins & Minerals Grass would be that answer to this metabolic challenge.

If your horse has access to the lush green grass and is doing seemingly OK, I strongly recommend the daily use of the Equine Challenge™ PREbiotic to help stabilize the micro-flora of your horse’s gut. All of our Morgans graze daily in green pastures, 4 of the herd graze 24/7, one Morgan grazes 2-3 hours daily and one Morgan grazes 12 hours daily, all of them get their digital pulses checked everyday and they all get some form of exercise daily unless it is too dangerous ground wise…..if so the 2-3 hour a day grazer gets no grazing…..poor Shiloh. All the Morgans get their Equine Challenge™ PRE-biotic a.m. and p.m……there are no guarantees but we do all that we can to fit the steward need of the individual Morgan…they are all different.

Easy keeper horses should not be fed alfalfa as the primary forage source. This is by no means exhaustive in the challenges of Spring time grasses, the horse is an individual and an individual solution goes a long way in providing the stewardship that your covenant with your horse requires.

I recently had an Equine Challenge™ customer call with a question of how to manage feeding her horses their Equine Challenge™ and whole oats on a wagon train adventure. I recommended that she visit the pet store and invest in a collapsible water bowl which is generally available for dogs of varying sizes. She actually had one for her dog and she was very happy with the solution and in fact thought this would be a
great way to provide a bit of water for her horse during the difficult wagon train. Something easy and light to throw into your saddle bags, better to have and not need than to need and not have.

Honesty with customers questions and concerns many times has the potential of putting Equine Challenge™ sales in jeopardy. It would be, if one did not think of the horse in the primary and everyone and anything after the well being of the horse, which as you might imagine Kathy and I do. If you have questions or you are confused, ask yourself, what would be best for the horse and put yourself after the horse and it may make it easier to make the right decision for your horse. It may also put you at odds with others in your circle of acquaintances.

When you need to tell a potential new customer that what they are doing is not in the best interest of the horse you many times are treading on thin ice. When you tell them, regardless of how much they spent on the saddle, it doesn’t fit, that their DVM is not doing a good job or is recommending or suggesting something which is crazy, that their farrier or barefoot trimmer is doing a very poor job, that the equine chiropractic is not getting it done, that power floating of horse’s teeth is potentially very damaging to teeth, etc…, horse owners can become upset because they will assume that they are doing the very best for their horse and it seems like a personal attack.

Last summer I received a call from a lady who told me she had spent $10,000 in the last 10 months in Vet bills and that her beloved horse was actually and literally dying in her arms as we spoke. I told her the time for an immediate change was necessary and I did not have the luxury of being kinder, gentler and touchy feely with her. I told her what was necessary and she had the Equine Challenge™ Probiotic PLUS over nighted to her location and had the Equine Challenge™ Vitamins & Minerals Grass shipped in regular fashion. This horse had 10 months of diarrhea and was wasting away.

A few weeks later she called to tell me that she saw her first firm road apple in her horse’s manure, the horse had more energy and the eye was much clearer and she was very, very happy. As we spoke, she related that given our first phone conversation, she thought I was either a conceited arrogant prat or I knew what I was talking about but realized she was spending a great deal of time and money and was watching her
horse slowly and painfully die, she paid over $100,000. for her horse…..but it was not the money, her horse was dying.

Your horse is losing more than water when they have diarrhea!

Then she had to fight and argue with her DVM when she went off the reservation to save her beloved horse……and she did! This beloved horse is quite literally thriving as I write this newsletter and Adria has turned into an equine stewardship pit bull advocate for her horse and horses. I would not recommend getting between her and her horses…..not a good place to be.

With that being said, the marketing of treeless saddles is seemingly endless. A historical perspective should be taken. When human civilization depended on the horse, losing your horse was a major problem which could quite literally meant one’s death. Saddles have had trees for a long long time. These saddle trees allowed the weight of the rider to be dissipated over a much greater area, essentially making the rider weigh less. Less you say!

If someone falls through the ice and you have any hope of saving them before they get under the ice or die of complications due to hypothermia, you will dissipate your weight by sliding out to help them on your belly. This way your weight is dispersed over a greater area, making you lighter, it is a question of applied physics.

If you do not disperse your weight over a saddle tree and you have bought into the marketing of treeless saddles, your weight will generally be borne over a more concentrated area increasing the likelihood of making your horse sore and causing spinal problems. The marketing of Tree-Less saddles will not change applied physics. Gravity will not change.

Riding your horse bareback for a prolonged period of time will sore up your horse, Native Indians needed to changes horses frequently due to the problems of carrying the rider and not dissipating the weight. Once again….it is physics!

One last suggestion….shedding horses. Last year a customer gave me a tire brush to use on my Morgans. I thought it was sweet of her but I did not think it was a good brush for my Morgan…..well, it was a Great brush especially for the extremities. All the bumps and different sizes and shapes of the joints, stifle, knees, fetlocks, cannon bones, shoulders, chest, etc… What a great gift. Apparently they cost about a buck fifty and they really hold up well, still working with my first one.

Have a great Spring with your horse. Thank you for your continued patronage and loyalty to Equine Challenge™ and Equine Stewardship….it really is about the horse.

Mackie and Kathy
Equine Challenge

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