Horses have always been a big part of my life, and I had always been keen to feed my horses as natural as possible. But I had one particular horse that I was having ongoing troubles with.
Felicity Davies is an Australian Horsemanship & Mindset Mentor, who hosts the Equestrian Perspective Podcast. In this episode she speaks with our own Linda Goldspink-Lord; Author, Entrepreneur, Speaker and Director of Poseidon Animal Health.
Did you know that gut health problems are the second leading cause of death in horses, following old age?
That 30m tract of gut does so much more than digest food. It is responsible for your horse’s health and well-being as well!
It keeps bad things out and good things in by having an intact gut wall protected by a mucosal lining, and when this defence mechanism isn’t working toxins, pathogens and harmful substances can enter through the gut wall and create havoc.
This can lead to life threatening illnesses, poor performance, pain, behaviour change, weight-loss and whole gut inflammation (ouch).
Winter is the time where if you are having issues relating to your horses gut health and overall nutrition that you will likely see it! In this blog I will be discussing the three most common gut related problems I see as an equine veterinarian during winter.
What is Scoping?
Scoping (aka gastroscopy) is an important tool for detection of gastric (stomach) ulcers and their location within the stomach. Scoping allows us as horse owners to rule out or identify gastric ulcers as a cause of behavioural or physical signs we are seeing in our horses. It is also used for monitoring the effectiveness of gastric ulcer treatment and/or management changes implemented to reduce the role risk factors play in gastric ulcers.
Why do we fast our horses before Scoping?
Prior to scoping, most veterinarians will request that horses need to be fasted for no less than 12 hours. Read on to learn more about why this occurs and what we can do to help.
There is a truism that feeding horses is as much an art as it is a science. It is our failure to remember this that sometimes gets us into trouble...
Apart from being a word that strikes fear into the heart of every horse owner, colic is the term used to describe any abdominal pain seen in horses. It is non-specific, meaning that it can be related to the stomach, small intestine, hindgut or be unrelated to the gut altogether – as in the case of bladder stones (uroliths).
It’s important to work with your vet to try and identify the cause of a colic episode. If necessary, you can then make changes to your horse’s management or diet, to reduce the risk of future episodes.
Most colic cases are gut-related and many diet-related risk factors have been identified.
So what are the common diet-related risk factors for colic in horses?
Does gut health affect your performance horse?
The short answer is, yes. We ask a lot of performance horses. As a result of regular, high-intensity exercise, travel, how they’re housed, and what they’re often fed, performance horses can be at much greater risk of poor gut health and its associated problems. These include: gastric ulcers, colic, diarrhoea, poor performance, and behavioural problems. (And though they’re not strictly performance problems, poor gut health can also cause weak hooves and a dull coat).
Realistically, if you compete with or race your horse, you probably can’t avoid all the factors which negatively impact their gut health – such as travel or high-intensity exercise. But in this article, we’ll focus on what you can control – such as diet, turnout time and providing gut support. By working on what you can control, we can help minimise the impact of performance on your horse’s gut health, so they can look, perform, and behave at their very best.