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Is Your Horse Digesting His Food?

The horse was meant to graze a minimum of 12 hours a day. The majority of feed breakdown in the horse occurs in the hindgut. The horse’s gut is functioning maximally when he ingests small amounts of roughage over a long period of time. His stomach is relatively small, representing only about 7% of the entire digestive tract. Feed only remains in the stomach for 15-20 minutes. This is not enough time for the acid secretions of the stomach to fully break down the feed. A horse that is eating a lot of grain in a short period does not have time to digest all this starch in his stomach. The starch moves on into his small intestine and eventually into his hindgut without being fully digested. The colon and the cecum of the horse make up the “hindgut”. They hold about 130 quarts of feed at a time. The cecum has digestive bacteria and yeasts that convert hay into various nutrients that are absorbed by the colon. When starch reaches the hindgut, it is fermented to produce lactic acid. This decreases the pH of the hindgut, upsetting the balance of good and bad bacteria located there. Horses with a decreased pH in the hindgut are often irritable, lethargic, stiff, and uncomfortable. This hindgut “acidosis” can be corrected by adding good bacteria to the horses feed, giving the horse nutrients to protect his intestines, adding digestive enzymes, feeding glutamine to strengthen the intestinal villi, feeding colloidal silver to help heal the damaged intestinal villi, feeding green clay to coat the intestinal lining and protect it from the acid, increasing the feedings the horse gets per day, and keeping roughage available at all times.

We manage the horses that come through our clinic on an individual basis. I will try to generalize here for the sake of horses too far away to come in to be evaluated. Horses that just have a little intestinal upset detected during an osteopathic evaluation will be put on two weeks of green “montmorillonite” clay. We use one heaping tablespoon two times daily for the two week period for a 1,000 pound horse. Green clay has a tendency to block absorption of nutrients by the villi if given for a prolonged period of time, so we limit green clay feeding to two weeks at a time.

Horses that have more damage to the stomach or intestines, such as active ulcers, are put on a Kam program to heal the ulcerations and improve digestion. We give one teaspoon of Kam digestive enzymes two or three times daily in the feed for 4 to 6 weeks, and then taper off on the amounts fed. We also feed one tablespoon of Kam UF two or three times daily in the feed for the same amount of time and also taper off on amounts. These doses are for a 1,000 pound horse. How much enzymes and UF your horse will need for maintenance will depend on your horse, his level of nervousness, the amount of stress he has, and how bad his ulcers were to start with.

Kam also has another product called KLPP, made up of probiotics and gut soothers, good bacteria and yeast, including saccharomyces boulardii. This product is very useful in maximizing digestive efficiency. We give 30cc every 15-30 minutes to colicky horses with very good results. Many times we don’t have to treat the horse further. This product is also used during times of stress for the horse: competition, travel, and breeding, treatment with antibiotics, dewormers, and illness.

We have seen very good results in horses that are put on the daily feed additive Succeed. This product takes a minimum of three weeks to start to show an improvement in the horse. Horses that are under continuous stress, such as performance horses; have done very well on this product. Succeed has oat oil in it, which helps to increase nutrient absorption in the gut up to five times. It has oat flour, which contains beta glucan, an immune stimulant. There are two forms of complex sugars that come from the yeast saccharomyces cerivisea, which supports the building and repair of intestinal tissue. Succeed also has glutamine, which helps strengthen the intestinal villi, and Threonine, an amino acid that supports the production of mucin, which lubricates and protects the intestinal tract lining. Succeed comes in a daily paste, or in granular form that is put into the feed.

Colloidal Silver is useful for horses with parasites that have released toxins, causing injury to the lining of the intestines. We use an 1100ppm colloidal silver and continue giving it to the horse for six weeks. We start out with a small amount of colloidal silver in a liter of water, split half over the am feeding and the other half over the pm feeding. We build up to ten drops of colloidal silver in the liter of water per day. The colloidal silver has an antibacterial and healing effect on the intestines.

We use an all-around vitamin mineral supplement with digestive aids in it as well. This product, Equipride, is very affordable. Equipride blends vitamins, organic complexed minerals, stabilized milled flax, and distiller’s grains. The flax is high in omega 3’s and lignans and the pro biotein contains a special blend of prebiotics, yeast, and digestive nutrients that can improve forage feed efficiency up to 25%. Clients with horses on this product tell amazing stories of miraculous improvements in horses that were depressed, sick, stiff, weak, lame, or just old. This product also comes in a tub to put in the stall or pasture, called EquiLix.

We carry all of the above products at the clinic. Call 512-396-2234 for more information.

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