Friday, December 30, 2011

Pasos and Pasos and Pasos, Oh My!

I just rode Jennifer Arnold/Joseph's pony, Dante, and he was AWESOME! A little turdly at a couple of points when he thought he'd see if he could exit the arena, but SO MUCH FUN! I like the little guy :) Who knew that Paso Finos were so much fun?

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Electrolytes for Horses |

Electrolytes for Horses |

Electrolytes for Horses

Dr. Judy ReynoldsElectrolytes are probably some of the most misunderstood nutrients. They are a group of minerals, such as sodium, chlorine, potassium, calcium and magnesium. Electrolytes ionize or form a charge in water. They are essential for water and acid-base balance in plants and animals. Calcium and magnesium are also required for many other functions in the body. In most situations, the necessary electrolytes are provided to horses as part of balanced feeding programs.

Salt, or sodium chloride, is lacking in forages and grains fed to horses, so all horses need salt supplementation. In order to meet the salt needs of horses, most fortified commercial feeds contain between 0.5 and 1.0 percentage salt. It is also common practice to provide a salt or mineral-salt block to horses for free-choice supplementation. However, many horses do not consume enough salt from these blocks alone to meet requirements for sodium and chlorine.

Common grasses and hays contain two to ten times the potassium requirement for horses. And, potassium is 98-100 percentage absorbed in horses. Therefore, horses are constantly removing excess potassium by whatever means are available. In non-sweating horses, the potassium is excreted in the urine. Potassium is also excreted via sweat. When horses sweat, this becomes an additional means to remove EXCESS potassium. Of course, excess potassium does not need to be replaced. Adding more potassium in an electrolyte supplement actually places more stress on the system and can produce detrimental effects such as increased plasma potassium and hyper-excitability.

The other electrolytes are found in varying amounts in normal feeding programs. Therefore, electrolyte supplementation for horses is only necessary in situations where heat and humidity are high and/or horses are working hard. Large amounts of sweat, produced during hard work, are used to cool the horse’s body. Most equine electrolytes are formulated to replace lost sweat. Equine sweat generally contains about four parts chlorine to two parts sodium, to one part potassium. Most manufacturers use this formula to create sweat-replacement electrolyte supplements. However, this reasoning is incorrect since, as stated previously, horses typically consume more potassium than they need and sweat helps rid the body of excess potassium. Consequently, adding potassium to an equine electrolyte-replacement product is unfounded.

Another method used to formulate equine electrolytes is to mimic human electrolyte supplements. In nutrition, information from one species is often taken and applied to other species. In some cases, this works very well and is the best method available. In other cases, it is the opposite of what one should be doing. A great example is trying to apply human nutrition concerning electrolytes to horse nutrition.

Electrolytes are only needed to supplement minerals not found in normal diets. And, normal human and horse diets have some very important differences. As a wide generalization, humans are notorious for overeating salt. But, our typical diets generally don’t supply enough potassium due to lower intake of fruits and vegetables. Horses are foragers. As stated previously, forages are very rich in potassium, but low in salt. This is because plants use only potassium to maintain their water balance, while animals use both sodium and potassium.

In people and animals, most of the sodium is found in the blood and other extracellular fluids, and most of the potassium is found inside the cells. Carnivores (meat eaters) and omnivores (meat and vegetable eaters) obtain salt from the muscles and tissues of the animals they eat. Herbivores, like horses, get abundant potassium and need to constantly remove it through the urine. Consequently, people and horses have opposite needs for supplemental potassium and sodium.

Supplementing horse diets with an equine electrolyte product is not usually necessary if horses are fed a good, balanced nutrition programs. However, if used, electrolytes for horses should contain sodium chloride, possibly calcium and/or magnesium, and NO potassium. FORAGE FIRST® feeding programs containing GROSTRONG® Minerals for Horses provide all required nutrients including electrolytes.

Horses with the genetic disorder HYPP (Hyperkalemic Periodic Paralysis) are sensitive to “normal” amounts of potassium in forages and must be provided special low-potassium rations. Horses with HYPP should never be given electrolytes with potassium, as this could cause a lethal reaction.

Electrolytes--The Bottom Line

Begin with a feeding program balanced around good-quality forage.

Supplement nutrients not found in adequate amounts in forages with a Fortified Feed and/or a comprehensive vitamin/mineral product that includes salt, the best of which is GROSTRONG Minerals for Horses.

If additional salt is needed after the maximum amount of GROSTRONG Minerals is fed, use plain, white salt to meet the requirement.

Do not buy electrolyte supplements that contain potassium (read the label). The potassium is not necessary and might be detrimental. These supplements are also a waste of money.

Never give supplements with potassium to horses with HYPP.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Sooooooooo Christmas... yeah...

I picked up the finishing touch on my sister's present tonight. I hope she likes it, but if not, I have a backup plan. Dad's gift came in earlier this week and I'm having to beat Mark off with a stick to keep him from getting into it. My brother's gift arrived via UPS today. Mark's stocking stuffer arrived earlier this week, but his main gift has not, plus I'm getting him an extra present if I can find exactly what I'm looking for between now and Christmas. Now, what to friggin' get my mom... I think I might look up some horse cookie recipes to bake for the ponies, and we're probably getting bones or dog jerky for the pups. We finally have a mantle this year to be able to hang stockings over a real fireplace! I love this place, maybe not the house so much but certainly parts of it, and I wish I could just transplant it if Mark makes us move next year...

Holiday Crafts With Madonna

Holy bejeezus, I laughed my butt off! This was great :) A little rabid holiday cheer anyone?

BAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! "Racehorse"... right...


Thursday, December 15, 2011

Rollkur Derailed

The reason why you can’t pull a horse’s head down to his knees and hold it there is not only because the current science approves or disapproves. The reason why you can’t pull a horse’s head down to his knees and hold it there day after day, hour after hour, is the same reason why you can’t pull a man’s head down to his knees and hold it there. The reason is that it is demeaning to the dignity of the horse or man. It is an ethical, philosophical problem, as well as a scientific one. Even in the handling of prisoners of war there are conventions of dignity. When you act this way toward a horse with this unprovoked, irrational and unrelenting constant aggression, you demean everything: the horse, nature, yourself, the art and the observer.
–Paul Belasik, The Search For Collection

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Holy bejeezus it's cold...

Ok, winter is officially here. My friend Kim had snow at her house this morning, we've been having sleet out here for a couple days now, and it's belligerently cold every time you walk outside. What a slap in the face after temperatures in the mid 60s to low 70s last week! Every pony that can wear a blanket who has a blanket that fits is wearing it right now. It's almost noon and the temperature is not above 40 degrees. This cold weather stuff is for the birds...

Compounding the frustration over the cold is the fact that I've ordered at least 3 blankets now for both the mini donkey and the baby, and none of the damn things have fit properly. Order blankets number 4 and 5 now...

Monday, November 28, 2011

Ok come on, seriously???

A little ticked off. I put out an ad to get my pastures bushhogged, a guy calls a week and a half ago to give a quote, and I tell him I'm still collecting quotes. He calls today to tell me he wants to do it this weekend and wants to do it Sunday, and I tell him I hadn't made a decision yet because there were still 2 guys who were coming at the beginning of the week to see it. Then this asshole tries to bully me into giving him the gig saying crap like "Well I gave you a quote and thought we had a done deal, I already was making plans to come Sunday after the ground dried out" even after I repeated myself and said I still had appointments. I really am rather surprised that he thought trying to bully me by saying "we had a done deal" and "I made plans" when I never agreed to anything would possibly result in me caving and actually just giving him the job... on what planet does that actually work? You don't bully a potential employer and still get hired. Maybe it's because I'm not a redneck, but even rednecks I've dealt with before are more mannerly and decent about doing business with them.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving everybody! I'm about to go raid the fridge to see if I can scrounge up 10 carrots for all the barn babies before we head to Huntsville for the day. Wow I'm doing a lot of driving! I think I will actually let MARK drive up today and drive home tonight. A total of 9 hours on the road yesterday due to dinner and gas stops was way too much for the Ivanator and me!

Day 4 Complete

Day 4 complete.

Yesterday was hard! My body was so sore and tired already by the end of the short course, and that made it harder to hold my new position. Developing new muscle memory while old muscle memory continues to get in the way is tough! We did, however, conquer our issues with holding correct position, got plenty of well balanced and correct sitting trot and also some canter. We didn't quit when it was tough, managed to get three gorgeous, perfect strides, and we managed to go right back on the bit without a fight after he started getting a little fussy about the bridle on a loose rein. Haha, my trainer told me I got three blue ribbons for those three particular accomplishments. I LOVED it up there, and we can't wait to go back (though we're going to take the time to work very hard on our homework between now and our next trip). OH! And I brought home a new saddle! My Passier Grand Gilbert apparently doesn't have a large enough sweet spot and pushes me out of proper position because my thighs are too long, so I just brought home a gorgeous ALBION that fits both me and my boy :) So, day 4 ended on a very good note, then we packed up and hit the road for home. Stopped for sushi with my best friend in Atlanta, then came home to snuggle up with my awesome hubster :)

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Day 3 Complete

Day 3 down.

My body feels a little beat up from how hard we've been working! The Turdinator decided to show up yesterday looking for a fight, but little did he realize, Sophie brought her boxing gloves. I think part of it was that he isn't used to being worked in specifically this way (and with me in correct position, actually asking him to really work for once), but the rest of it was that he was just being incredibly rude and trying to bully us into getting his way. Suffice it to say, he didn't get it. What he did get/become, however, was very good and correct, did not lean on me, and started giving me very nice canter departs on the bit and did not go splat when we came back down to the trot (though I did go splat in the saddle a couple times due to too much tension, HE did not and was such a gentleman about letting me reorganize without getting upset about it). Last lesson today, then we're going home!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Day 3, end of the day

It's not even 8 pm eastern yet, and I'm so exhausted I just want to go to sleep... Too exhausted to write about it.

Day 2 Complete

Day 2 down. I have new muscles I didn't know about. I'm also being able to hold proper position longer, and my horse is improving his canter departs and can do shoulder-in rather well. Just making small adjustments is making huge changes in how effective my aids are and what kind of response I get out of the Go!-boy. It's almost like learning to ride all over again, except we're making advances in leaps and bounds but only really realizing after all the sudden we're at a new level and popping our eyes out at what we've just done (and breathing really hard from the process of getting there). Tasida, I'll say it again -- Horsey Hogwarts is very apt.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Day 2 Beginnings

Definitely going to the supermarket later to find fruit and non-zappables to keep in my cooler for breakfast. Haha, I want to gift Sophie with a toaster for her tack room to keep next to the fridge. I'm craving bagels and cream cheese.

Day 1 Complete

Day 1 down.

Tasida was right. This IS Horsey Hogwarts. And officially, my inner thigh hurts. First lesson involved a lot of position correction. Mr. Go!-boy is a lot less inclined to lean on me now, and can't pull through me so easily, and I can now sit properly with my pelvic floor pointed down at the saddle and under me instead of tilting. Downside is that my saddle might be too small for me given this correct position, and now that I sit with my legs much longer, I had to let out a LOT of stirrup holes, ha! Looking forward to day 2 after I finish a little work.

Sunday, November 20, 2011


We're here! We're here! Just arrived at Blue Moon Farms for our short course with Sophie Pririe Clifton! Looking forward to good things for the Ivanator and me :)

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Got the itch

I'm itching to get back in the saddle. The last two days straight of rain have made for soggy and slow going. Didn't get to ride today, didn't get to ride yesterday, got rained out during the last half of our ride on Monday. It makes me want to get a giant rain coat for my horse that goes over me, my saddle, and then him from his head to his tail. Luckily, tomorrow is supposed to be dry, so I'm going to have a lesson off-farm and hope that the Go!-boy is good.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Personal, personal, personal

So I haven't really posted something personal about any of my kids for a minute. Guess I'll take a moment to bring everything up to date.

Classy Lady had her foal, the one that she conceived without permission. Luckily, it's cute and doesn't look at all like its ugly mutt daddy, and is a black filly with a short sock on her left foreleg and a star/strip and broken snip on her adorable little face. I am somewhat of a fan :) We named her Bohemian Rhapsody and Queen as a barn name.

Ivan is back under saddle and progressing now that I'm not suffering from broken ribs anymore and since my quad tear in my right knee is healed enough that I can be more active. I do still have some discomfort from my rolled (left) ankle, but aside from that, we're good. We did a very long trail ride last Saturday at KC Ranch up in Double Springs, AL, close to the Bankhead National Forest. I woke up at an ungodly hour of 4:45 am, finally rolled out of bed at 5:05 am, hit the road by 6 am, arrived at my friend Jennifer's to collect her and her horse, Kiba, at 7:10 am, then arrived at 9:10 am and was in the saddle by 9:30 am. Rode till almost 1 pm, took a 1 hour break for lunch, then got back in the saddle and rode until 4:30 pm. All in all, he was very good, though he rushes when other horses leave him behind, and he tries to rush down rocky hills instead of picking more carefully through the rocks. I really had to reel him in a couple of times, but he was MUCH better when we weren't trying to keep up with the gaited horse pack. My lower back was slightly sore after so much time posting in the saddle during the first part of our ride, but aside from that we were pretty good.

We're supposed to use up the last of our lesson package with Deb this week, then I'm hauling him to NC to do a short course clinic with Sophie Pririe Clifton, who trained under the well renowned Paul Belasik, and who is the trainer that my friend Tasida goes to regularly. Hopefully things will go well, and we might do another short clinic (locally) after getting home with a trainer from GA. I'm hoping that this short course we're going to is going to be beneficial for breaking down some communication obstacles that Ivan and I have been having. The idea is that we'll have a better sense of direction and come up with some really good homework to work on for awhile, then come back for another short course clinic when we need new tasks. It's going to be intense, with a lesson when we get there, two lessons a day for the next two days, then a lesson before we leave. The Ivanator and I are really going to find out how much we REALLY know and a lot about what we DON'T, plus we're going to probably become acutely aware of how not in shape we are... Well, HE'S not too bad off, maybe a little roly poly around the tummy at the moment but not really fat, but on the other hand, I'M definitely not as fit as he is.

So hopefully, all new things will be good in the world of Ivan and myself, and we'll go from there. I'm hoping to be able to get new video footage of us at Sophie's along with some decent photos finally. I need to go ahead and start getting all my stuff clean and ready to go so I'm not scrambling on the night before. Speaking of the night before, my other half's birthday is being celebrated the night before (since it's actually on the day that I'm leaving for NC), so I've got to be prepared for that, too. I feel a little bad that I'm leaving on his birthday, but that IS why we're celebrating the night before. I just can't push it back by a day or I won't be getting my money's worth to be going so far, plus I can't stay a day extra because that will mean I'm there on Thanksgiving day. Anywho, I'll try to keep my blog up to date on our progress.

Haha, good morning kitty...

Bahahahahahaha, this is so true: "There is no snooze button on a cat that wants breakfast."

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Small Heart Attack

Just had a small heart attack. Some random stranger ENTERED MY PASTURE WITH MY PROTECTIVE MARE and let their four children chase my foal to try to pet it!!! What kind of moron does this??? I was alerted to the intruders by two of my dogs barking (bless you Salem and Isis), so I charged out and had to be unfriendly and insist that they leave. What an enormous liability! And it looked like they were about to try to walk through my second gate into the main pasture, and holy hell that could have been a catastrophe! Two of our miscreants (Ivan and Jack) become kickers around the other horses at the gate if they think someone is there to feed them. For the love of Christ, KEEP YOUR CHILDREN OUT OF RANDOM PASTURES THAT CONTAIN HORSES YOU DO NOT KNOW!!!!!

Repost: Blanketing 101

This lady wrote a great little piece on blanketing. Go here to read the whole blanketing 101:

The shortened version of how you should blanket is as follows, but please do visit her blog and read the whole explanation of all the terminology and why you should blanket when and with what, plus when you should layer.

55 and up: no blankets
54 to 45 and/or rain: turnout sheet
44 to 35: turnout sheet during the day, stable blanket at night
34 to 15: medium weight
15 and under: medium weight over stable blanket

Now with my kids, they get a turnout sheet 24/7 when it drops below 55. We have sufficient shelter out there, they get plenty of forage to cook in their bellies to keep warm, and when it drops in temperature, I start layering either underneath or over the top. I have fleece liners, turnout sheets, and medium/heavy weight turnout blankets (because I don't keep my kids in a stall at night anymore unless the temps are ridiculous and/or rainy). 

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

The Horse | A Sticky Situation: Getting Tar Off Your Horse

I thought this was an excellent article with methods for "de-sticking" your horse. The sticky in this article was tar, but I think this would also be quite effective for things like tree sap and other common sticky things that your horse can encounter around the farm (ours get into tree sap by rubbing on the trees that the beavers have chewed on). 
A Sticky Situation: Getting Tar Off Your Horse
by: Dennis D. French, DVM, Dipl. ABVP
August 01 2010, Article # 16762
Q:I painted some boards with tar rather than black paint. Of course my bay and white Pinto mare got some in her mane and on the white part of her neck. She has very sensitive skin. How can I safely remove the tar from her hair coat and skin? What should I worry about in terms of the aftermath and how should I treat it?
Marie Murphy, Aiken, S.C.

A:In doing research on this topic I found a number of suggestions ranging from organic to downright scary treatments for the horse in question. With any horse, the protection of the underlying skin would be the biggest concern I would have.
The old remedies were to use turpentine, gasoline, mineral spirits, or kerosene and a rag, and then hose the area with soap and water. While I believe this to be effective, I would have to question the effect on the underlying skin. Especially for a horse with known sensitization, I suspect any of these treatments would produce a skin reaction of epic proportion.
The more ingenious solutions for tar removal involved the use of kitchen pantry supplies. Among the most unique were olive oil, peanut butter, or plain butter applied with either a cloth or toothbrush; mayonnaise applied directly on the area; or Wesson oil with no stipulation as to whether the canola, corn, vegetable, or best blend were used. All of these remedies were reportedly easy on the skin and provided excellent removal.
Others suggested a trip to the shop was in order. A number of sites recommended a composite of Windex, dishwashing liquid, and all-purpose cleaner equally mixed together; spraying WD-40 on the tar and letting it stand for 10 seconds is reported to work in two minutes or less. A product called Goo Gone allegedly works "amazingly" well.
The medical treatments advocated the use of Avon Skin So Soft, with reports that its use was followed by excellent removal of tar, greases, and oils out of hair. Apply it after working it into your hands and follow by washing with regular soap. Another medical product called 50/50 cream (half white soft paraffin and half liquid paraffin used for eczema patients) supposedly works great. Directions for use were to cover the affected areas with the cream and leave in place for two hours. The tar should then rub off. Some areas required longer, more liberal application, but all reports described this as an easy, painless, and effective method.
I have been fortunate to not have this predicament with the horses I own, so I have not had to use any of the above remedies. However, the use of Skin So Soft seems to be a safe place to start.

Monday, October 31, 2011


Blank Project Collage Mug
Modern shower invitations and holiday cards by Shutterfly.
View the entire collection of cards.

The Horse | Feeding to Prevent Colic

Feeding to Prevent Colic
by: Heather Smith Thomas
July 01 2011, Article # 19029
Horses are more prone to digestive upset than other domestic animals because of how their gastrointestinal tract functions and how we feed them.
When you go to the barn for evening chores you hear banging in the far stall--your horse is down and rolling. He gets to his feet when you run to the stall, but immediately starts pawing and circling and quickly drops down again to roll. He's sweaty and in pain--clearly, he's colicking. As you call the veterinarian you run through your mental checklist, beginning with the important question, "What did I feed him today?"
Anthony Blikslager, DVM, PhD, Dipl. ACVS, professor of equine surgery and gastroenterology at North Carolina State University, sees colic cases regularly. "When I finish with a colic surgery, the owner often asks what he/she can do to avoid colic in the future," he says. "It all goes back to basic management, and nutrition is an important part of that management."
Equine Digestion is Unique
Horses are more prone to digestive upset than other domestic animals because of how their gastrointestinal (GI) tracts function and how we feed them. The horse evolved as a grazing animal, and his digestive tract is designed to utilize forage. It functions best and remains healthiest when he's allowed to roam at pasture, eating more or less continuously and consuming small amounts often. In domesticating horses we've confined them and typically feed hay and grain in scheduled meals. This unnatural environment often leads to digestive problems and colic.
Blikslager says horses are one of a few animals that digest most of their feed in the hindgut (cecum, colon, and large intestine) rather than in the stomach and small intestine. The horse's GI tract is designed to transfer food to the hindgut as swiftly as possible. Feed can travel through the small intestine to the hindgut in three hours or less, according to Blikslager. This can create digestive problems if owners offer high volumes of grain per feeding, because some reaches the hindgut before it is fully digested.
Mimic Nature
You can improve your horse's digestive health by managing his dietary regimen the way nature intended. Ideally, a horse's diet should be comprised of good-quality forage, with added grain and concentrates only if his level of work demands it.
While turnout that allows a horse to graze continuously is best, this might not be realistic for your situation. "If a horse must be confined, maximize the amount of forage you feed," says Blikslager.
Amy Gill, PhD, an equine nutritionist based in Lexington, Ky., says two things can help prevent colic: "One is to keep horses moving, to simulate free-ranging where they were walking all the time," she says. "Moving while grazing helps keep circulation going, and continual eating keeps the digestive tract moving (promoting gut motility). This is the other important thing--eating small amounts continually."
Promoting this gut motility can be challenging for owners whose horses live in stalls. "The risk for colic increases the more the horse stands still, especially if standing still without anything to eat," says Gill.
Stephen Duren, PhD, an equine nutritionist with Performance Horse Nutrition in Weiser, Idaho, has observed that ranch horses in large pastures (never confined, not eating grain) almost never colic. If a horse is confined, with hay substituting for pasture (and grain or supplements added to balance any nutrient deficiencies in the hay, or to provide added calories for high-energy demands of a performance career), you should be particularly careful/strategic about planning his diet. Although many owners have a twice-a-day grain-feeding ritual, Duren recommends spreading the ration into smaller, more frequent meals--particularly when horses are in stalls and volume of grain fed daily is high.
"Confined horses are more likely to colic because they don't get enough forage or exercise," says Duren. "The owner limits the amount of forage (to prevent weight gain), and the horse doesn't eat enough to keep the digestive tract healthy. Daily turnout, longeing, or any other type of daily exercise can be beneficial to digestive health."
Forage Foremost
As stated previously, forage should be the main component of a horse's diet. "Money spent on good hay will decrease the amount of grain needed and the number of colics or digestive upsets," says Duren. "As quality or quantity of forage in diet decreases, you have to rely on grains and supplements, which by nature are not as healthy for the horse."
Have your hay analyzed for nutrient content (protein levels, minerals, etc.; there are services that do this, such as through your local cooperative extension office, but also keep a watchful eye on your hay for contents that might cause a horse to colic. Moldy hay, for instance, generally smells musty and is characterized by a white dust. "Some kinds of mold produce toxins that may cause severe digestive upsets," says Duren. "Toxic plants may also cause problems. There may be weeds, sticks, or other foreign material baled in hay."
Most horses, if they have adequate feed, will sort out the less desirable hay portions that might cause digestive problems.
Some hard-working horses, such as racehorses and other high-performance athletes, need to consume more calories more quickly than what they obtain from a forage-only diet. Other horses might need more calories to maintain body weight, such as those that are older or lactating.
"In these instances use a balance of energy sources in the grain portion of the diet," Duren says. "Don't just rely on sugars and starches. Use some fat and fiber (such as beet pulp or soybean hulls, which can be digested in the hindgut) in the mix to reduce pressure on the small intestine for getting those sugars and starches digested. Using high-calorie fiber sources and some fat enables you to reduce the amount of carbohydrates supplied by sugar and starch. Fat is more energy-dense, and you don't have to feed such a large volume." Thus, it is much healthier for the hindgut.
"Even if not all the fat is digested in the small intestine, at least when it gets to the hindgut it's not inappropriately digested and causes less colic," adds Blikslager.
Careful with Concentrates
If a horse is fed a lot of grain, corn-based concentrate, or sweet feed, his digestive tract can't absorb all the sugar before it reaches the cecum and colon. As mentioned, the hindgut is designed to digest grass; sudden bombardment with sugar adversely impacts the microbial ¬population.
"The trouble with a large concentrate meal is there's not enough time to digest it in the small intestine," says Blikslager. "It gets moved down to the hindgut too quickly, and the microbe population shifts toward those that can rapidly digest starch, creating gas in the process." If the change is too severe, with large proliferation and die-off of certain bacteria, toxins might be produced, leading to more serious problems such as laminitis.
A cow can readily burp up gas created by fermentation because her rumen (first stomach) is toward the front of the body and connected to the esophagus. But since the horse's fermentation process takes place in the hindgut--halfway through digestive tract--excess gas can't come back through the tract to be burped, so it must proceed toward the rear. When abnormal fermentation creates too much gas, it causes pressure and pain (colic).
The recommended smaller, more frequent meals should be made up of processed grains, Duren says, to enhance small intestine enzyme digestion of the feed. "We don't want undigested grain spilling into the large intestine where bacteria ferment them,"he says. "This lowers the pH, kills (beneficial) bacteria, and creates digestive upset and colic."
Horses need plenty of fluid for forage fermentation and to digest their food properly; they produce large amounts of saliva to mix with feed, and their bodies pull fluid from the bloodstream continually into the intestines, aiding gut motility. Material moves through the small intestine in liquid form, and the colon absorbs the water during the last phases of digestion, to be recycled via the bloodstream and used again by the salivary glands and forward portions of the digestive tract for the next journey through.
Provide your horse with an ample water supply that's not too cold in winter or too warm in summer, or the horse won't drink enough and could develop an impaction.
Prebiotics and Probiotics
For the horse's fermentation-focused digestive system to process forages, the hindgut's microbial population must be healthy, with appropriate numbers of helpful bacteria. Many horsemen feed commercial supplements or feeds containing some of these microbes. Use of these products (called probiotics) began several decades ago in attempts to replace normal gut flora after animals were sick (and not eating) or given oral antibiotics that destroyed good bacteria along with the bad.
"Now we have multiple probiotic and prebiotic products that can stabilize the good microbes," says Duren. "They've also been shown to have some effect in guarding against harmful bacteria and, thus, help maintain normal gut function."
Researchers at the University of Georgia recently studied the growth of various strains of pathogenic bacteria in test tubes to see if adding probiotics would decrease their growth. The tests showed that probiotics must be specific to the equine body to be effective.
"It must be one that's normally found in the equine digestive tract," says Duren. "What works for a dairy goat or a cow may not work as effectively for a horse."
Prebiotics, on the other hand, are a newer concept. These are not microbes; instead, they're ingredients that feed and maintain the microbes. Prebiotics are indigestible sugars that make their way through the digestive tract, stimulating beneficial bacteria growth. Some of them trick bad bacteria into binding to them and are excreted in manure.
Take-Home Message
Because the horse's digestive system is not likely to become any less complex or prone to upset, it's imperative owners feed horses as nature intended and focus on providing good-quality forages rather than high amounts of concentrates.

John Stamos' Guide To Cuddling


Monday, October 3, 2011

The Horse | Are Stabled Horses at Increased Risk for Developing Colic?

Great article, wanted to share!

The Horse | Are Stabled Horses at Increased Risk for Developing Colic?

Every horse owner wants to avoid the dreaded "C" word, and although it sometimes is unavoidable, there are some steps owners can take to prevent colic. Housing horses in pastures rather than stalls, for example, could reduce the likelihood of a horse developing colic. According to the results of a recent study performed by a group of British researchers, there is a decrease in stall-kept horses' intestinal motility (or movement of digesta) as compared to pasture-kept horses, which could help explain the higher risk of colic seen with stabled animals.
The research team, led by Sarah Freeman, BVetMed, PhD, CertVA, Cert VR, CertES, Dipl. ECVS, MRCVS, associate professor of Veterinary Surgery at the University of Nottingham School of Veterinary Medicine and Science, in Leicestershire, used ultrasonography to assess the frequency of large intestinal contractions (and thus, the amount of intestinal motility) in two groups of eight horses (no recent history of gastrointestinal disease) used for equitation training at the Defence Animal Centre in Melton Mowbray, UK.
The first group was stabled throughout the study period, which was comprised of two monitoring phases. They were fed hay and concentrate twice daily and had constant access to fresh water. Horses in this group were exercised lightly for 60-90 minutes daily. These horses remained in the same routine throughout both monitoring phases.
The second group was kept on pasture 24 hours a day with constant access to fresh water for the first part of the monitoring phase. They received no formal exercise or supplemental concentrates while at pasture. For the second monitoring phase, horses in this group were transferred to the stabled regime, identical to the first group. They were given a two-week acclimatization period between being turned out and stall kept.
Researchers used ultrasonography to examine two horses from each study group twice daily for two consecutive days during each monitoring period to evaluate the frequency of contractions within several parts of the large intestine.
Study results showed a measurable difference in large intestinal motility between the two groups of horses.
"The frequency of contractions of all intestinal regions collectively was significantly lower when horses were stabled compared to the pasture regime, but this effect was greatest in a region of the colon where impactions commonly occur," Freeman said in the study.
The team noted that there are several factors that differ between stable and pasture management, including feed type, feeding intervals, and activity levels.
"Any, or a combination, of these could contribute to the lower intestinal motility of stabled horses, and this will require further study," Freeman relayed. "But now that we know that stabled horses have reduced motility, we can look at measures to try and improve this and reduce their risk of colic."
The study, "Investigation of the effect of pasture and stable management on large intestinal motility in the horse, measured using transcutaneous ultrasonography," was published in August's issue of the Equine Veterinary Journal and can be viewed online.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

True Story!

So true. Hahahahaha!

Still no...

Still no foal. This damn mare has kept me waiting for 6 weeks. All the sources that said bagging up of the udder occurred 2-4 weeks before foaling and that maidens didn't usually bag up at all till after foaling HAVE NOT MET THIS MARE. Ready to pull my hair out. Running on fumes since I barely slept at all in the barn last night. So ready for this foal to come.

Monday, September 26, 2011

The Horse | Carbohydrates 101 for Horses

Super useful info. A must read.

The Horse | Carbohydrates 101 for Horses

Carbohydrates 101 for Horses
by: Shannon Pratt-Phillips, MSc, PhD
March 01 2011, Article # 18816
These sugars, starches, and fibers are important energy sources for the horse and crucial to equine digestive health.
From glucose to frustose to lactose--not to mention a laundry list of other "oses"--carbohydrates can be incredibly confusing. But this group of sugar-based compounds, also called saccharides, comprises important energy sources for the horse. Therefore, understanding them and utilizing them in your horse's diet are crucial. They also are a major component of forages, a staple of the horse's diet, and are required for digestive health.
The simplest carbohydrates are monosaccharides (made up of one unit and also called simple sugars), such as glucose, fructose, xylose, and galactose. Another type of carbohydrate is a disaccharide (two sugars bonded together), which includes lactose (found commonly in milk, made from a unit of glucose and galactose) and sucrose (table sugar, made from glucose and fructose). Then there are oligosaccharides (three to 200 units each) and polysaccharides, or "complex carbohydrates" (each made up of multiple units, typically 200-2,000, which include compounds such as starch and cellulose). Cellulose is considered a type of dietary fiber, along with hemicellulose, lignin, pectins, and fructans.
How Carbs Work
After a horse consumes the carbohydrates found in forages and grains, the actions of enzymes found primarily in the small intestine break disaccharides and starch into monosaccharides that are then absorbed into the bloodstream, where they are converted for energy or energy storage (more on this in a moment). Dietary fibers, on the other hand, such as cellulose, hemicellulose, and pectins, are not digested by enzymes, but instead undergo fermentation.
Within the cecum and large colon are large populations of microbial organisms that have the ability to break down these complex fibrous carbohydrates into volatile fatty acids that are then absorbed and used as energy sources (calories). However, not all fibers can be fermented effectively, thereby decreasing their overall digestibility; for example, cellulose is typically only 40% digestible, hemicellulose 50% digestible, and lignin is not at all digestible. In contrast, pectins and fructans are believed to be highly fermentable and have higher overall digestibility.
The horse appears to be limited in his ability to digest starch, especially in large amounts. When horses consume too much starch (such as with a high-grain diet or a wayward horse getting into the feed bin), enzymes in the small intestine cannot properly digest it. Undigested starch will, therefore, reach the large intestine and the microbes within it. These microbes might not be accustomed to dealing with large amounts of starch, which could cause a disruption to the microbial ecosystem. This can result in the overproduction of other acids such as lactic acid and/or gas, potentially resulting in colic. Alternatively, it could result in the death of some microbes, causing them to release toxins that can be absorbed by the horse, potentially causing laminitis.
Any glucose produced by the enzyme breakdown in the small intestine is absorbed there and enters the bloodstream, causing an increase in blood glucose concentrations. This increase stimulates the release of the hormone insulin, which functions to move glucose from the blood into the body tissues, thereby bringing blood glucose concentrations back to baseline. Once in the tissues, glucose can be metabolized to produce energy, or it can be converted to fat or glycogen (a polysaccharide of glucose units found in the body) for energy storage. The volatile fatty acids, once absorbed from the cecum and large colon, can also be either metabolized to energy or converted to fat.
Carbohydrates are, therefore, considered important energy sources for the horse. Cereal grains (e.g., corn, oats, or barley) are full of highly digestible carbohydrates such as simple sugars and starch. Forages will have some simple sugars and starches, but they are higher in fiber and therefore provide less digestible energy per unit weight. For example, cereal grains have more than 3 Mcal of energy per kilogram (ranging from 3.2-3.8 Mcal/kg), while hay can range between 1.8-2.4 Mcal/kg, depending on the plant type.
While cereal grains provide more energy than high-fiber feeds, these fibrous feeds--especially forages--are extremely important to the horse's overall health, and the horse should consume them regularly and in higher amounts than the cereal grains. The microbes within the horse's large intestine are highly sensitive to changes and need a constant substrate (fiber) for fermentation. Therefore, gut health (and colic prevention) is dependent on a regular supply of forage.
As outlined above, high starch and sugar diets result in an increase in blood glucose concentrations, followed by an increase in insulin concentrations. It is believed that such fluctuations can reduce the effectiveness of insulin, resulting in insulin resistance--essentially, the horse's body becomes resistant to insulin, glucose can't reach the body's cells from the bloodstream, and while the body can compensate for a short period by increasing insulin levels, the end result is abnormally high circulating levels of glucose in the bloodstream. Owners of insulin-resistant horses should limit their animals' starch and sugar intake. Furthermore, some horses appear to be more sensitive behaviorally to glucose fluctuations and might appear extra spirited after consuming a high starch and sugar feed (similar to a child after eating a chocolate bar).
For these reasons, when considering carbohydrates we must consider not only the total energy we are providing to our horses, but also the sources of these calories. The number of calories a horse requires depends largely on his body weight (a 1,500-pound horse requires more calories per day than a 700-pound pony) and activity level (a racehorse or polo pony requires more energy to perform work than a pasture ornament). While a nutritionist can calculate the approximate number of calories your horse needs, a good gauge to determine if your horse is meeting his caloric requirements is to watch for any fluctuations in his body weight. For a given level of activity, is the horse gaining or losing weight? If his weight stays approximately even, you are probably meeting his caloric requirements.
The other side of the coin is the source of these calories. As stated above, it is probably more beneficial for a horse to have the majority of his calories coming from sources such as dietary fiber found in forages. In fact, for a horse with low-energy requirements (e.g., a horse at "maintenance"), caloric needs can be met easily by providing good-quality forage in sufficient amounts. A horse with higher caloric needs, however, might not be able to meet them through hay or pasture alone (these feeds are bulky and the horse might not be physically able to eat as much), and will need more concentrated sources of energy added to his diet (such as from cereal grains).
Understanding the Terminology
Different feed types contain different types of carbohydrates; these have implications for the horse's nutrition and health, in part because of their ability to cause gastric upset. Therefore, it is important to analyze your feed to determine the carbohydrate fractions within it. The following are key carbohydrate fraction terms you might encounter on a feed tag or analysis:
  • Acid detergent fiber (ADF) A measure of the least digestible carbohydrates in the feed, primarily cellulose and lignin.
  • Neutral detergent fiber (NDF) A measure of fiber consisting of hemicellulose, cellulose, and lignin.
  • Crude fiber (CF) A crude measurement of fiber.
  • Nonfiber carbohydrates (NFC) A measure of starch, simple sugars, and fructans.
  • Nonstructural carbohydrates (NSC) A measure of the easily digestible carbohydrates, including simple sugars and fructans. Horses sensitive to glucose should be fed a low-NSC diet.
  • Water-soluble carbohydrates (WSC) A measure of water-soluble sugars, including simple sugars and fructans.
  • Ethanol-soluble carbohydrates (ESC) A measure of ethanol-soluble sugars, including mostly monosaccharides and disaccharides.
Your Horse's Diet
Owners of horses sensitive to starch and sugar should aim to reduce these components in the diet. The ideal values of these fractions for sensitive horses have not been established, but, according to Lori Warren, PhD, PAS, associate professor in the University of Florida's Department of Animal Sciences, "Concentrates between 12-13% NSC or lower could be categorized as low-starch and may be suitable for these horses, though they likely don't need concentrates to begin with."
Amy Gill, PhD, a private equine nutritionist based in Lexington, Ky., recommends that for sensitive horses, hay total starch and sugar should be below 10% and the total diet below 15%. According to Gill, if a hay analysis is unavailable and the horse is symptomatic, owners can soak the hay (for 30-45 minutes) to help reduce any soluble sugars that might be present.
In contrast, "not all horses need to be on a low-starch diet," says Warren, "and in fact, some horses (e.g., those competing in high-speed or multiple-day activities) may actually need starch as an energy source or for glycogen replenishment." Again, knowing the starch and sugar content of your feeds will help you develop a diet suitable for your horse.
Information about the fiber components in forages is also useful, as this might help owners choose hay types that are better suited to particular horses. Warren suggests that overweight easy keepers might do well on hay that has ADF above 40%, while weanlings and broodmares do better on hay with ADF less than 34%. Commercial feed tags report the CF values, but Warren suggests looking at the actual ingredients to determine fiber quality.
"The fiber will be highly digestible based on the presence of certain fiber sources (e.g., beet pulp, soybean hulls), or hard to digest because of others (e.g., peanut hulls, oat hulls)," says Warren.
Gill also uses the CF on a feed tag to get an indication of the soluble carbohydrates in the feed, as a feed higher in CF tends to be lower in starches and sugars.
While there is a trend to see more commercial feeds moving toward low starch and sugar, these are not truly "low carb," nor would you want them to be! Fiber is also an important part of your horse's diet, and it should not be disregarded.
Carbohydrate Type
Simple sugar
Includes monosaccharides (glucose, fructose, xylose, and galactose) and disaccharides (two-unit carbohydrates, including dextrose and lactose).
Found in varying amounts in most plant-based feeds. Sucrose is table sugar. Lactose is found in milk.
A type of fructo-oligosaccharide; a short chain of fructose molecules.
Cool-season grasses.
Polysaccharide; a long chain of glucose joined by alpha bonds.
Found primarily in cereal grains, but also in varying amounts in forages.
Polysaccharide; a long chain of glucose joined by beta bonds. Indigestible by mammalian enzymes.
Found in most plant-based feed sources, but in higher amounts in forages.
Polysaccharide similar to cellulose, but in addition to glucose units it also contains other monosaccharides such as xylose and galactose. Indigestible by mammalian enzymes.
Found in most plant-based feed sources, but in higher amounts in forages.
A complex compound that gives strength to plant cells; indigestible.
Found in most plant-based feed sources, but is higher in mature plants (particularly mature hay).
A heteropolysaccharide, containing mostly galactose and xylose.
Found primarily in fruits and beet pulp.