Your horse’s immune system

Your horse’s immune system

YOUR HORSE’S IMMUNE SYSTEM

Okay folks, let’s discuss immunity and your horse’s immune system.

We’re all currently living in troubling times.  Now, although your horse won’t catch the human Coronavirus, we should always consider the state of his immune system. After all, without an efficiently working immune system your horse will be exposed to all manner of health issues.  So, in this blog we’ll look at what the Immune system is and how you can optomise it.

Your Horse’s Immune System – What is it?

An immune response is simply the ability to mount an effective defence against malignancies and invading micro-organisms by producing immunoglobulins (antibodies).

According to Ian Tizard, PhD, BSc, BVMS, MRCVS, who authored the book, Veterinary Immunology, An Introduction, the basic requirements of an immune system include four components:

  • A method of trapping and processing antigens
  • A mechanism for reacting specifically to the specific antigen (becoming antigen-sensitive)
  • Cells to produce antibodies or to participate in the cell-mediated immune response
  • Cells to retain memory of the event and to react specifically to the antigen in future encounters

When Boosting Your Horse’s Immune System Matters

Just like us, your horse’s immune system becomes less competent with age. Also, weanlings, young horses, stress, and poor condition can also negatively impact the immune system. This in turn makes them more vulnerable to disease and infections.

Significantly, supporting the immune system is vital to those with specific health issues or equine athletes whose bodies are constantly put under stress from competition or travelling. Even weather changes can also stress your horse’s immune system, so you want to be especially careful of management strategies during these time

Gut Health to Boost Your Horse’s Immune System

Considering that 70% of your horse’s immune system is in his GI tract, the immune system itself is directly affected by the health of the digestive system. Several other organs such as the thymus gland and the bone marrow, are the sites where white blood cells are produced. Others, including the spleen, lymph nodes, and liver, trap microorganisms and foreign substances and provide a place for immune system cells to collect, interact with each other and with foreign substances, and generate an immune response.

Nutritional Support

The nutrients most associated in immune health are antioxidants, micro and macro minerals, omega 3 and 6 fatty acids (particularly Omega 3) and glutamine.  However, there must be an overall balance of all nutrients when it comes to good immune health.

Antioxidants

Vitamin E, vitamin C, selenium and beta-carotene – the precursor to vitamin A all have a positive effect on the immune system.

Macro And Micro Minerals

Micro-minerals include such elements as zinc, copper, cobalt, and manganese. While macro-minerals include calcium, phosphorus, and magnesium.

Omega 3 And 6 Fatty Acids

Studies show that both fatty acids, more so Omega 3, play a role in the immune function of clinically normal horses.

Glutamine

Glutamine is an amino acid. The immune system needs to receive an adequate supply of L-glutamine to protect against illness and potential tissue damage. L-glutamine deficits can result in:

  • diarrhea
  • atrophy of intestinal villi
  • mucosal ulceration in the stomach and colon
  • increased intestinal permeability
  • necrosis
  • digestive complications
  • poor nutrient absorption

Gut Support for Your Horse’s Immune System.

A combination of both MOS & FOS prebiotics is a powerful tool when it comes to supporting your horse’s immune health.

MOS Prebiotic

MOS (mannanoligosaccharide) contains high levels of beta-glucans.  These are shown to support a healthy immune system and may increase its reaction capacity. MOS itself enhances immunoglobulin production during gestation. This improves the quality of the colostrum and the transfer of immunity from the mare to foal at birth.

FOS Prebiotic

Short-chain  FOS (fructooligosaccharides) are selectively fermented by some bacteria in the intestinal microbiota.  By providing beneficial bacteria with a good source of food they can strengthen the immune system.

Nucleotides

Nucleotides are the building blocks of RNA and DNA molecules in the horse’s body. Research has shown that all horses and ponies can benefit from the inclusion of additional nucleotides in their diet.  However,  performance horses or those with health issues have the greatest requirement.

The cell regeneration process is accelerated with Nucleotides.  Cell regeneration allows an animal to recover much quicker from the type of stress it is under (performance, illness, disease, injury, etc.).

Most pertinently to immune health, Nucleotides also assist with the activation and proliferation of lymphocytes. They help these white blood cells perform their primary function.  ie. produce antibodies to attack invading pathogens and destroy cells already invaded by microbes. Keeping these cells functioning properly ensures that the horse’s immune system is actively warding off potential threats.

So How Do Fibregenix Balancer Supplements Help Boost Your Horse’s Immunity?

Fibregenix contains immune-boosting nutrients, all in a highly bioavailable form. Bioavailability is really important, because it’s a measure of how well an ingredient is absorbed and utilised by the horse.

Alongside the all-important key antioxidants, (Vitamins A, C, E and selenium) there’s a full range of chelated trace minerals. Digestible protein supplying all the required amino acids has also been added to the formulation.  Another highly important component of Fibregenix is the gut health supplements.  These consist of Purified Nucleotides and MOS & FOS prebiotics. All this means that a Fibregenix balancer supplement will provide your horse with everything needed for a healthy immune system.

Whether your horse is a seasoned performer, a veteran, a youngster or just in need of boosted immune support, Fibregenix is instrumental in taking your horse’s immune health to another level.  In fact, many of our customers have noticed how quickly their horses recover from illness or even avoid illnesses or viral issues where other horses in the same yard are struggling.

So don’t take any chances with your horse’s health.  Just let Fibregenix do the hard yards for you.

Biosecurity at competition venues

Biosecurity at competition venues

Follow these top tips for Horse Biosecurity Management at shows to keep your horse healthy and safe

How up to speed are you with Horse Biosecurity management at competition venues? The Show season is cranking up and many of you will be heading out with your equine athletes.  You may even be staying over for one or more nights. But how are you going to keep your horse free from potential disease when you get there?

It’s something we so often take for granted.  Therefore, being aware of how easily viruses are transmitted and taking a few precautions before, during and after travel, can make all the difference.

I remember taking two of my horses to a National Breed Show where they were stabled for two nights.  Within a week of returning home, both my horses came down with a severe respiratory cough and snot nose virus.  They were off work for weeks but had been perfectly healthy prior to this.  After that, I always made it a priority to disinfect the show stables they were in.  And this was before I even got them off the truck.

Before you leave

Ensure your horse’s vaccinations are up to date. If not, get them done in plenty of time before the season begins – strangles and tetanus are the standard.  However, if your horse is a seasoned campaigner that spends a lot of time away/interstate, consider influenza and rhinopneumonitis.

Keep sick horses at home. Watch for signs of fever, nasal discharge and diarrhea before you leave.

Horse Biosecurity Management At the Show

Wash your hands frequently! Just as you would during cold and flu season. Consider carrying handy disinfectant gel or wipes to use not only for your hands but also on surfaces you often touch.

Limit exposure. Don’t allow horses to have nose-to-nose contact. Limit the general public’s contact with your horses and your contact with other horses. If possible, request stables with solid walls high enough so horses can’t touch noses over the top.  Preferably without any gaps or cracks in the walls. If open-sided stables are unavoidable, consider requesting a stable on an end or outside wall.  Consider covering open walls with carefully-secured tarps.

Keep Your Distance! Horse shows are known to be great social occasions. Unfortunately, even the most innocent and friendly interactions can present a danger to your horse’s health.  Avoid strangers and keep your horse a safe distance away from others. Avoid grazing in common areas.

In and Around the Stables

Clean and disinfect stables at show facilities. You’ll be keen to unload horses and equipment as soon as possible after a long journey. But how do you know the health status of the horse that last used the stable you’ve been assigned? Disease’s unseen pathogens aren’t only waiting to find a new host in your horse.  They’re also happy to hitch a ride home and infect stablemates. Worryingly, disease pathogens in saliva and respiratory secretions can remain on dirt floors, walls and doors for extended time periods.  Spray-on commercial disinfectants are readily available and the best choice. Diluted bleach is an inexpensive disinfectant but works best on a surface that’s been thoroughly cleaned.

Mind those sharp edges! Thoroughly inspect the stable area for loose nails, debris and any other dangers to your horse’s physical safety.

No Sharing! Don’t share feed and water buckets, hay bags, grooming tools, tacks, or mucking out equipment. Disinfect these items frequently and after arriving home from an event. Use only your own feed and water buckets. Label them with each horse’s name and don’t use them for any other horse to avoid cross-contamination.

Use special caution with water sources. Don’t fill buckets or allow a horse to drink from a communal water tank. Always use your own hose. If a shared hose can’t be avoided, don’t submerge the end or nozzle in your horse’s bucket. Alarmingly, one of the easiest conduits for strangles to move from stable to stable is through a shared water hose.

Horse Biosecurity Management When you get home

Keep up your Biosecurity management at home. Upon returning home wash your hands, shower, and change clothing and shoes before working with horses kept at home. Any horse in a public environment can pick up a pathogen and incubate an illness for several days.  This can happen whilst not showing any outward symptoms. Ideally, every horse who goes to a show should be segregated from others for at least a week…  After a competition, monitor horses for any developing signs of illness. This can be a cough, nasal discharge, lethargy, decreased appetite or elevated temperature. Finally, be sure to wash all the clothes and equipment before coming into contact with other horses.

Look after your horse’s immune system.  Ensuring your horse has a healthy and strong immune system can go towards protecting him and can certainly help with his recovery if he does succumb to an infection.  Fibregenix feed balancers focus on optimising your horse’s gut health, where 70% of the horse’s immune system is. Additionally, a Fibregenix balancer is chock full of antioxidants which are also key to a healthy immune system.

In summary, the healthier the horse, the stronger will be his resistance to infection. Horse Biosecurity management at shows is a valid and worthwhile practice to follow.  There’s nothing more soul-destroying than having your competition horse out for the season because a few simple protocols weren’t undertaken.

Locking stifle problems

Locking stifle problems

Locking Stifle

Similar to the human knee, a horse’s stifle joints are like hinges—some of the largest in a horse’s skeletal system.  Locking stifle problems can occur when a stifle joint becomes ‘locked’ due to overstraining or genetic joint problems. When the patella (kneecap) is unable to ‘unlock’, it means the patella is fixed in an upwards position. Be warned, a horse can panic when this happens, so it’s vital you stay calm and confident.equine stifle apparatus

Causes

Locking Stifle is most common in ponies, foals and horses that are unfit, although the precise cause is still unknown. However, what we do know is that there are several contributing factors.  These include :

  • poor conformation
  • lack of muscle strength in the hindquarters,
  • hereditary conditions

 

 

Signs of a Locking Stifle

Locking stifle can vary in its severity. If your horse has a mild case, he may simply trip or stumble every now and again.  More severe cases can result in him being unable to flex a hindleg and having to drag the offending limb. Don’t mistake a locked stifle for stringhalt. This neurological disease causes exaggerated and uncontrollable movement, sometimes making your horse jerk its hind leg up high while stepping.

Your vet can help you determine if any of the following signs indicate your horse has a locking stifle:

  • dragging hind feet (maybe showing wear on the toe)
  • reluctance to pick up feet
  • resistance to moving on a circle
  • kicking out for no apparent reason
  • hopping
  • resistance to cantering or cross canters
  • swinging hind-leg to the outside while moving
  • frequent stumbling or even falling

Prevention & Treatment Options for Locking Stifle

There are several treatment options. Whilst surgery is currently the only cure, there are options to help reduce the risk of an episode.

  • Generally helping to improve muscle tone, particularly in the quadriceps, will help to support the surrounding joints.
  • Trail Riding – increasing the distance and speed very slowly and over several weeks, will help a horse achieve its fitness level in a safe way.
  • Exercise over cavalletti’s (raised trotting poles) is a great way to help improve muscle strength and suppleness.
  • Lungeing your horse or hill work eg riding it on a slight incline so that it drives with its hindquarters also makes for safe training when done in small, slightly increased intervals.
  • Feeding a high-quality joint supplement should also help. This will aid good joint health, as well as promoting the health of the soft tissues surrounding the joints.

Remember: Always discuss your strategy thoroughly with your vet before beginning any training regime.

A Liquid Solution providing Additional Help for Locking Stifle…

Fibregenix Joint & Bone RLF contains key ingredients to help nourish and protect joints.  These include Glucosamine, Hyaluronic Acid, organic MSM and Rosa canina (rosehip). An additional benefit is the cutting-edge bone supplement of Calcium chelate and Vitamin D3.

The specific Ingredients in Joint & Bone RLF that assist with managing locking stifle:

  • Organic MSM helps to provide the building blocks for protein, which are vital for tendon and ligament strength.
  • Rosehip can aid the reduction of swelling within a joint. This may occur as a result of a locking stifle due to the joint being put under excess pressure.

Conclusion

Locking stifle is a problem that with the right approach can be managed and mitigated.  It’s important you start slowly, avoid overworking your horse, and thoroughly discuss your strategy with a vet before beginning any new training regime.

Always consult with your vet if you have any concerns about the way your horse is moving.

Equine Cushing’s Disease

Equine Cushing’s Disease

Cushings Disease in horses

OVERVIEW 

Areas affected by cushings

Cushings disease in horses (pituitary pars intermedia dysfunction) is a common disease associated with the ageing horse, but it’s been reported in horses as young as 7. In a healthy horse, hormones exist in balance and play an important role in maintaining and controlling bodily functions. The hypothalamus and pituitary gland which sit at the base of the brain, are the command centre to produce hormones such as ACTH and Cortisol. In Cushing’s disease, the nerves in the hypothalamus progressively degenerate and produce insufficient quantities of a nerve transmitter called dopamine. Dopamine controls the secretion of ACTH and cortisol by the pars intermedia which is in the pituitary gland.  Cushing’s disease in a horse or pony has an imbalance of these hormones. which results in the symptoms of PPID.

 

SYMPTOMS 

  • The best known, and probably the easiest to spot, is a long or curly coat that fails to shed fully
  • A pot-bellied appearance usually as a result of muscle loss over the topline
  • Abnormal fat distribution (above eyes, crest and above tail head)
  • Excessive sweating
  • Increased water intake so often thirsty and, as a result, urinates more frequently
  • Prone to laminitis or becomes at risk before the above symptoms present themselves

If your horse or pony has one or more of these symptoms, contact your vet for a diagnosis. They’ll conduct one or more tests to detect ACTH and/or cortisol levels in the blood. PPID can be controlled with medication.  Most vets prescribe Pergolide, which stimulates dopamine receptors in the brain and replaces the activity of the damaged nerve supply to the pituitary gland. This results in a reduction of hormone production to normal levels. The dose range is wide and the improvement in clinical signs and ACTH levels is often used to determine the best dose rate for each horse. As the disease is degenerative, it’ll become progressively become worse over time, but many horses or ponies on medication can lead very normal lives.

DIET MANAGEMENT FOR CUSHINGS DISEASE IN HORSES

  • Horses with Cushing’s disease can become either overweight or underweight. In the case of overweight Cushing’s horses resulting from insulin resistance, there’ll be regional fat deposits along the shoulders and tailhead, a cresty neck, etc.
  • Reducing the circulating insulin levels is key to managing the diet and the condition.
  • Research has shown that the macro-mineral magnesium can help reduce fat deposits, especially on the crest and base of the tail.
  • The overriding factor when managing diets for Cushings disease in horses is the increased risk of laminitis due to the hormone imbalances. More so if the horse or pony has previously had laminitis.
  • For those being managed with Pergolide, consider whether you want to promote weight gain/maintain condition, or encourage weight loss/avoid weight gain.
  • Pergolide can affect appetite, especially at higher doses. Horses can go off their food or eat something for a while before going off it. TIP: Rather than constantly changing the overall diet, try adding extras to tempt them eg cinnamon, fenugreek, mint, or even grated apples or carrots. (Go easy on the apples and carrots due to sugar content)  It might also be wise to give medication separately from the main feed.

PROMOTING WEIGHT GAIN/MAINTAINING CONDITION 

Forage

  • To help control sugar intake, forage (hay/haylage) should have an NSC  content of below 10%. NSC is the total of starch plus water-soluble carbohydrate). You need to get a hay analysis to have this confirmed. TIP: As a rule, later cut, coarser hay is generally lower in WSC. (water-soluble carbohydrate)
  • Soaking hay for an hour or two before feeding helps to reduce the WSC content. Any longer and you run the risk of nutrients being lost and reducing palatability. Be careful soaking in warm weather to avoid fermentation or bacterial growth.
  • Providing the above precautions are taken, forage can be fed ad-lib to provide fibre, calories and support gut health.
  • Later cut forages tend to be less nutritious; soaked beet pulp can be fed as an additional source of highly digestible fibre and provides some quality protein and other nutrients.
  • You need to carefully manage turnout, especially in springtime to control fructan (sugar) intake. Turning out very late at night when grass fructan levels are lowest, and bringing in by mid-morning, is safest. In winter, avoid turning out onto pastures during cold, bright conditions, eg frosty mornings, when the fructan levels increase.

Concentrates 

  • Whilst calories promote/maintain condition, avoid standard hard feeds. Although they provide calories, they’re usually based on cereals supplying starch, the intake of which MUST be kept to a minimum.
  • Fibregenix Platinum Pro balancer will provide quality protein, vitamins, minerals and other nutrients without the high starch or calories. You can then add “Safe” calories alongside it such as beet pulp or oil.

PROMOTING WEIGHT LOSS

Avoid feeds that are high in sugar and starch. If your Cushing’s horse is overweight, avoid restricting his diet entirely.  Remove concentrates, but never restrict hay as hunger will stress him and cause other potential issues such as colic or ulcers.

Forage

  • Forage intake should be restricted to the equivalent of 1.5% of the horse’s body weight per day.
  • Should contain less than 10% NSC and less than 10% WSC.  Soaking can help reduce this.
  • Weigh all forage before soaking. Use small-holed nets to make a small amount last longer and keep the horse chewing.
  • In addition to the above guidelines regarding turnout, access to grass may need restricting by use of strip grazing, muzzling etc.
  • Soaked beet pulp may be fed as a low-calorie alternative or additional fibre sources if overall fibre/calorie intake is controlled.

Concentrates

  • Provide a balanced diet with Fibregenix Lami Low-Cal diet feed balancer supplement.  This low-calorie balancer supplement has a total starch/sugar (NSC) feed value of just 8.8% and will supply those nutrients likely to be lacking in forage, but without unwanted calories.   Lami Low-Cal also contains specific digestive aids to aid fibre digestibility, overall gut health and improving the insulin response.
  • You can feed white chaff with the balancer supplement to encourage chewing, as can small amounts of soaked beet pulp.

As every horse or pony is an individual, if you have any queries about feeding your PPID equine you can contact us: Anita 0408 920707, email anita@fibregenix.com.au

Buying off the track thoroughbreds

Buying off the track thoroughbreds

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Buying off track thoroughbreds

Here’s a quick guide to the process of buying off-track thoroughbreds.

Be realistic about your ability and experience

  • Do you have enough time, money, patience and experience to deal with the demands of a former racehorse? For instance, did you know most racehorses come off the track needing costly treatment for ulcers?
  • An ex-racehorse isn’t a novice ride and shouldn’t be seen as a cheap way for children to move onto horses.
  • Thoroughbreds are a sensitive breed For example, a cut that probably wouldn’t bother your stock horse may blow up on a thoroughbred, making them more expensive to own.

Understanding the former lifestyle of off-track thoroughbreds

  • They may not be used to conventional riding techniques.  A racehorse will be unfamiliar with long stirrups and a heavier saddle and is unlikely to understand seat and leg aids until they are retrained.
  • Jockeys are often given a leg up while the horse is walking. So an off-track thoroughbred is unlikely to stand still for you while you mount from a block.
  • Ex racehorses aren’t used to being exercised alone.  They’ll associate riding out in company with their former life on the gallops.
  • All-day turnout will be a new experience that should be introduced gradually.
  • It’ll be used to being in a busy yard and might be overwhelmed by your individual attention.

Patience is the key

Most importantly, you must be willing to give your off-track thoroughbred plenty of time to adjust to its new lifestyle. Not every horse will readily adapt to new disciplines and most will always retain a racehorse mentality to some extent.

Where to look for an off the track thoroughbred

  1. Directly from its owner or trainer. You can buy one at the sales, or from a retrainer either by buying it or loaning it.
  2. Look up the horse’s record. Do your research and don’t be afraid to ask questions. Look for gaps in the record that might indicate time off with an injury and how many times it raced. However, don’t count out a horse with a lengthy racing career. If it managed to stay sound for a long time, the chances are that it will continue to do so.
  3. Request to see it ridden and ride it yourself. Is it the type of horse you want? Will its conformation stand up to what you would like it to do? How does it behave in the stable and when being tacked up? Ask to ride it. It may not know much about flatwork, but is it willing to do what you ask. Does it move reasonably well?
  4. Find out about the horse’s temperament and personality. Ask about injuries and why it has retired from racing.
  5. Should you decide to buy it, make sure you get it vetted as you would with any horse.
  6. Don’t expect the horse to be given away, if it is, then you have to ask yourself why. If it’s likely to have a chance at succeeding in any kind of career, it’s worth a price, like any horse.
Overweight Horses – Feeding Mistakes

Overweight Horses – Feeding Mistakes

Overweight Horses – Common Feeding Mistakes

When it comes to feeding overweight horses, there are many common feeding mistakes that could be a contributing factor. You think you’ve got your horse’s diet sussed. The problem is he’s still carrying too much weight for his own good. Where are you going wrong?  Check our definitive guide of common errors to see where you might be slipping up.

1. You’re feeding too much for his workload

Calorie-counting in overweight horses is the same as it is with humans. If they take in more calories than they burn off, they’ll put on weight. A 500-kilo horse in hard work will burn nearly twice as many calories as his mate who weighs the same but in light work. ie 34,500 calories as opposed to 20,000. So make sure your horse is receiving the right amount of feed for his weight and workload.

2. You’re feeding incorrectly for his breed

Native breeds have evolved to be good-doers, making the most of poor quality grazing. They generally require feeds of a lower-calorie level as they maintain their weight easily.  However, they still need lots of fibre to maintain digestive and behavioral health rather than being starved to keep weight down. While native types don’t tend to require concentrate feeds to provide calories, they do need is a balanced diet. A quality feed balancer eg Fibregenix, with a small amount of fibre, is all they need plus grazing and hay.

3. You’re feeding incorrectly for his age

Feeding young horses correctly is important to ensure they grow at an appropriate rate. It’s also highly important to ensure that the diet is completely balanced at all times. The majority of growth and development problems occur when there’s too much energy/calories going into the diet. Especially in combination with insufficient levels of vitamins, minerals and quality protein. Ideally, you’d want to keep youngsters in relatively light condition (4-4.5 out of 9 on the body scoring scale). This reduces the amount of pressure and strain on growing joints and limbs.

Veterans, however,  may need more calories to maintain condition as their ability to chew may be impaired by dental issues. The digestive system of the older horse also tends to be less efficient at processing feed. However, not all aged horses need a ‘veteran’ mix. Instead, monitor the condition and speak to a nutritionist if advice is needed on what best to feed your older horse.

4. You’re feeding too much for the time of year

In spring and summer, the grass is richer. In winter, it’s poorer and sparser. In winter, your horse can use up to 80% of his feed energy to keep warm.  So if he doesn’t get enough feed his weight may drop accordingly. Most horse owners prefer their horses to maintain a steady weight throughout the year. This doesn’t always follow the horse’s natural metabolic pattern of losing weight in winter and gaining in spring. If a horse comes out of winter already in good condition, he’s likely to stack on more weight when grazing becomes plentiful. Condition score your horse regularly so you know whether he needs more or less feed. Remember, tis is because the level required will fluctuate with the seasons.

5. You don’t know what he weighs

Horses in light/medium work need to consume 2% of their body weight in mainly forage (70-100% of their food intake) a day.   So if you don’t know how much he weighs, how do you know if he’s getting that, too much, or too little? Invest in a good weigh tape or take advantage of the weighbridge services that some feed companies or vets offer.

6. You’re not weighing his feed

If you have a good doer that’s prone to piling on the pounds, don’t just throw some feed into a bucket and hope for the best. You need to be strict with him — and yourself — and weigh his feed. A 500-kilo horse needs 20,000 calories a day in order to maintain his weight. There are approximately 7-8 MJ (or 2,000 calories) in a kilo of good quality hay. So if you’re stuffing his haynet with 10 kilos of hay each night, he’s already receiving all the calories he needs just for maintenance.  And that’s before you include any grass or hard feed!  You may be concerned he’s scoffing his hay ration too quickly and having nothing for the rest of the night.  If this is the case, invest in a trickle net to encourage him to eat more slowly.

7. You’re feeding too much hard feed

We should all know by now that many diseases are linked to high starch diets.   These include laminitis, colic, gastric ulcers, Developmental Orthopaedic Disease (DOD), Equine Rhabdomyolysis Syndrome (ERS) and Polysaccharide Storage Myopathy (PSSM).   Does he really need all that hard feed?  The majority don’t. We’ve been telling you this for quite a while now!

8. You’re buying the wrong hard feed

Work out how many calories your horse needs for his weight, breed, age, and level of work. Then check the calorie intake he’ll receive from his hard feed and consider honestly whether or not he really needs it.  If he has enough energy for work, then it should be obvious that he doesn’t.

9. Your grass is too good

Grass can contain a lot of sugar and calories, particularly in Spring and Autumn. Or indeed any time after drought-breaking rains.  So, when feeding overweight horses, restrict grazing in the danger periods. Alternatively, yard with hay. A Fibregenix balancer such as Prime Original OR Lami Low-Cal alongside hay provides his daily nutrient quota for health without the guesswork..

10. You’re buying the wrong hay

When feeding overweight horses, you need to choose the most suitable forage possible. A late cut, coarser hay will typically be less nutritious than an early cut forage.  Good doers don’t need cereal or legume hays – look for simple grassy hay instead.  If you can’t find a more suitable forage, soaking the hay for several hours can help to leach out sugars.

11. You’re trying to starve him into being skinny

Horses can’t do ‘crash diets’ any more than humans can. They’ve evolved to trickle feed.  This means they need an almost constant supply of forage for their digestive system to work correctly. If you withhold food from them, they may develop ulcers, and may also gorge quickly on food when presented with it. All dietary changes should happen gradually and over a significant period of time to be effective especially in overweight horses.

12. He’s a good doer

Feeding overweight horses can be a nightmare. Some just seem to get fat on thin air. If your horse is putting on weight despite taking all the precautions above, then speak to us. He may need to have a special feeding program devised for him. Being a good doer can also be problematic for competition horses. Feeding them for their level of activity can provide too many calories and cause them to gain weight. One solution is to feed less hard feed and provide a good balancer such as one from the Fibregenix range.

Reviewed and updated Feb 2020

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