Horse Feeding Myths & Misconceptions

Occasionally I will post an article from one of my friends in the equine nutrition field. One of the best of the best is Dr. Marty Adams.  I learn something every time I am with Marty.  Here is a great article he wrote about some of the common Myths & Misconceptions in feeding your horse.  Hope you learn something too 🙂

By: Dr. Marty Adams (PhD Equine Nutrition)

“Compared to most classes of livestock, there seems to be more myths and misconceptions when it comes to feeding horses. Many of these feeding myths appear to be long-held traditions that have been passed down from horse owner to horse owner. These myths or misconceptions are likely due to the fear of harming the horse, a lack of understanding of the feedstuff or the feeding practice, or thinking that the horse’s digestive system or nutrient requirements are similar to that of the human horseman. The old adage that “It’s always been done this way!” can be a powerful argument in keeping a tradition alive, in spite of scientific fact. We now have some scientific evidence that some of these “horse tales” are not true and may be harmful to the horse, so let’s review some of the most common horse feeding myths and misconceptions. Continue reading

Nutrition Tip

 

 

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Horses are called “trickle feeders” because they naturally eat slowly all day. If you feed grain, try to feed as many little meals you can and NEVER feed more than 5 lbs of grain at any one meal.  A big ol’ slow feeding hay net is a great way to create a trickle feeding system.

Book Review: Natural Feeding For Horses

Natural Feeding for Horses

 

As most of my regular followers know I am a HUGE proponent of a forage based diet. I’ve said it a million (well, maybe 1,000) times “It’s the way horses were designed to eat”.  So, it will come as no surprise that I am a fan of this new book. It’s the answer to many a horse owners prayers really. How do I feed my horse in a way that supports him physically, nutritionally and psychologically?

Author, Alexandra Wesker MSc, approaches equine nutrition in a holistic way that includes all the important aspects; 1) what horses actually need in their diet according to health, activity and body condition, 2) what feed stuffs that diet should consist of based on #1, and 3) how it should be fed based on where they eat, who they share that space with, and the environment he lives in.

This chart from the book will give you an idea of how her approach differs from traditional feeding and housing.

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All of her recommendations are supported by research and a detailed explanation of the “whys” for a natural feeding program are outlined.  As expected she included health reasons such as gut function and nutrient absorption, but what I was thrilled to see was behavioral/psychological reasons such as slow feeding, stress reduction and boredom reduction were included as well.

But she didn’t stop there! There are also the physical reasons beyond equine digestion. This rarely is addressed in nutrition books as we tend to focus on nutrition as it affects gut health and digestion (the digestive tract).  Including other body areas such as the effects of feeding on muscle, bones and  teeth function really is important, and they are in this book!

Don’t get worried that all this info will be too technical.  The book is made up of easy-to-use steps, guides and charts to help anyone figure out what is best for each horse (as an individual).

Alex starts with a terrific explanation of roughage and the different types.  This is an area I get at least one email a week so I understand how confusing it can be to the horse owner.

This is followed up by the factors that will affect the nutrient requirements of your horse.  Exercise is a pretty standard factor included in most nutrition books but instead of the familiar NRC choices (light, moderate, heavy and very heavy), this book uses the F.I.T.T. principle to determine a value. FITT stands for Frequency. Intensity. Time. and Type. Which will give you a more accurate reflection.

The book leads you through determining your horse’s Natural Feeding Level. Converting your horse’s current ration to a Natural Feeding Value. And finally to determining the particular Natural Feeding diet for each level and how to adjust your horse’s current ration.

There is also a great reference section as well as an extensive glossary to boot!

Feeding your horse “naturally” isn’t a new concept; offering a diet high in good quality roughage according to each horse’s particular needs is a well understood concept.  Obviously, based on the emails I receive, the “how to do it” part is what is missing. This book is your answer!

A bit more about the author:

Alex is an animal scientist specializing in horse health. Alex is based in England where she writes and consults on horse well being and nutrition. She gained both her BSc and MSc in Animal Science from Wageningen University in the Netherlands – one of the World’s foremost life-sciences universities. Her studies encompassed a wide range of areas from nutrition, physiology and genetics, to immunology and anatomy. This has enabled her to think and work more comprehensively in the work she does with horses. Alex has enjoyed riding from a young age and has a horse called Sensation.

AlexSensation

 

To order a copy click here http://horsehippie.com/collections/books/products/natural-feeding-for-horses

Peace and good food,

The Equine Nutrition Nerd

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Product Review HylEquine Joint Supplement

Occasionally I am contacted by  equine product companies about product reviews.  I am pretty picky about these reviews and only agree to them after I have reviewed the company, their products and have TESTED them myself on my or my client’s horses.

One company I am happy to offer some insight for is HylEquine. They provide all-natural supplements for horses in all stages of life. They have committed their three main product lines to the health and well-being of the animals which is why each of these products are chemical, hormone and synthetic free. Right up my alley.

I agreed to review their joint supplement if they would send a one month supply so I could try it on an aging Oldenburg gelding my client had. So they did.

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I received the supplement promptly. It is a 200 mg/ounce Hyaluronic Acid product in an oral, liquid form. It is tasteless and odorless and should be fed daily over morning or evening feed. I like that at 200 mg/ounce it offers one of the strongest concentrations of HA available on the market today. I was really curious to see if it would help Frolic.

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HylEquine Joint Solution is for joints, and according to the HylEquine products website ” HA is to joints what the oil was to the Tin Man in The Wizard of Oz.”  HA reduces friction between cartilage caps and provides the gliding motion much like the oil did to help the Tin Man’s movements.

Just like people, as horses age the synovial fluid in the body begins to degrade. In order to prevent inflammation, soreness and arthritis it is crucial that we replenish the body’s natural lubricant.  Frolic is 18 and has a “hitch in his giddy up” mostly behind, mostly in his hocks. He did the “AA” circuit for years then carted a bunch of students around after that.  He now has a terrific home, is lightly used 3-4 times a week, but his owner agreed, he sometimes seems stiff and resistant.

We started him on the joint supplement on the first of September and dosed him according to product directions; one ounce daily over regular feed. Daily maintenance is important as any form of hyaluronan introduced to the body only lasts in the system for 24 for 48 hours.

Results didn’t happen over night but by the end of week two the length of time it took for Frolic to warm up out of his stiffness was definitely shorter.

Frolic

He was also nicer to tack up as he could get cranky when you picked out his hind feet. Looks like we had a winner!

One of the biggest pluses for me is the liquid form. The majority of the oral Hyaluronic Acid products on the market today are in powder or pellet form and many horses can easily sift them out at feeding.  Another plus is it only has one active ingredient, hyaluronic acid, and as I said before, that is provided at one of the highest concentrations of any equine joint supplement on the market today.

I have always been a firm believer in the benefits of HA supplementation.  In my experience, HA excels as a preventative measure against the negative symptoms of age and exercise. We are hopeful that, with continued use of HylEquine’s Joint Solution, my client can reduce the need for costly injections, have more control over the quality and quantity of HA she is administering, and increase joint comfort for Frolic’s well-being.

Here is the link to their website for more info http://hylequine.com/shop.html