Dr. Getty’s Tip: Colostrum – An Exceptional Superfood!

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By Juliet M. Getty, Ph.D. 

Colostrum – you know it as the mare’s first milk. It is a complex fluid, rich in nutrients and immune-regulating compounds, all designed to give the newborn foal the immune support he needs to thrive. Unlike humans, who are born with an initial level of immunity, newborn horses do not benefit from any placental transfer of immunoglobulins; therefore they must consume colostrum in the first few hours of life in order to survive.

It is fascinating to note that animal species can be divided into three classes based on the way immunoglobulins are transferred to newborns: (1) via placental transfer to the fetus before birth (primates, including humans, rabbits, and guinea pigs); (2) through both placental transfer and through mammary gland secretion of colostrum (rats, mice, cats, and dogs); (3) strictly from mammary secretions (ungulates such as horses, pigs, cows, sheep, and goats). Though human babies absorb only a very small amount of immunoglobulins from the small intestine, the presence of immunoglobulins throughout the gastrointestinal tract will bind bacteria, toxins, and other macromolecules, inhibiting their ability to be absorbed into the blood stream, thereby improving the immune response.

But does colostrum benefit adult horses?

I was skeptical at first. After all, immunoglobulins found in colostrum are very large proteins, far too large to be absorbed directly into the bloodstream at an advanced age. Even newborn foals are best able to absorb these macromolecules only within the first 6 to 8 hours of life. After that, the intestinal cells gradually stop absorbing immunoglobulins – a process known as “closure.” I reasoned that in adult animals, these proteins must be digested, starting in the stomach and later in the small intestine, resulting in pieces of the original – certainly not the entire immunoglobulin. Well, it turns out that I was only partially correct.

You see, while most of the proteins do end up being degraded by digestive enzymes, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Aarhus University in Denmark, and the University of Calgary, Alberta, Canada, revealed that some portion of these large molecules is actually transported across the intestinal lining intact, remaining capable of binding to an antigen. That means supplementing colostrum to adults actually does have an impact on health. Furthermore, colostrum contains more than just immunoglobulins. It protects overall wellbeing by providing a wide range of factors including lactoferrin, oligosaccharides, peptides, leukocytes, and growth factors.

Bovine colostrum is the best choice

Colostrum from cows is richer in immunoglobulins than from other animal species, thereby offering improved protection against viral and bacterial infections. It is also very low in lactose, making it appropriate for adult horses (who are naturally lactose intolerant). Finally, bovine colostrum is readily available and easy to obtain.

Colostrum can have a remarkable impact on your horse’s health

Thousands of studies, using humans and animals, have revealed the many benefits of this extraordinary food. Colostrum from cows has been used to treat a vast variety of conditions including rheumatoid arthritis and respiratory allergies in humans, as well as to prevent and treat infections within the gastrointestinal tract. Though not directly related to horses, a fascinating study out of Africa recently revealed that children suffering from HIV infection actually started to gain weight, were not as fatigued, and showed significantly improved immune capacity.

Imagine what impact it can have for your horses. Studies using only horses are few; however, it is quite reasonable to extrapolate results from other studies to equine health. In 2002, researchers from the University of Manitoba, Canada, published a review of bovine colostrum’s benefits. Therapeutic applications of bovine colostrum supplementation include: immune-related episodes (such as allergies and autoimmune diseases), muscle and cartilage repair, wound healing, and gastrointestinal therapy. Other researchers have identified improvements in disorders such as obesity, insulin resistance, leaky gut syndrome, and ulcers. It falls nothing short of amazing.

Colostrum is a superfood worth feeding to your horse

All horses, even healthy ones, can benefit from this nutritious food. Bovine colostrum is safe to feed and may prevent health issues down the road. As a superfood, it is a natural source of nutritive factors that have a significant impact of on your horse’s recovery from a vast variety of ailments:

Allergies. Immunoglobulins and lactoferrin are known to promote and balance natural immunity. In addition, when there is an improper response to normally harmless substances, the proline-rich polypeptide present in colostrum actually reduces the pain, inflammation and swelling known to occur during allergies and autoimmune diseases.

Digestive distress. The gastrointestinal tract contributes the majority of the horse’s immune response because it is the first line of defense for protecting the horse from invading microorganisms, allergens and endotoxins. Any compromise to this system puts your horse at risk of developing ulcers, colic, diarrhea, and even laminitis. Bovine colostrum is not only protective but it also has the ability to heal conditions that include: 

Ulcers. Injury anywhere along the horse’s gastrointestinal tract can result from using NSAID pain relievers, forage restriction, stress, and exercise on an empty stomach. Bovine colostrum has been shown to prevent stomach and intestinal ulcerations and also increase new, healthy cell proliferation. The Transforming Growth Factors (TGF) present in colostrum actually stimulate gastrointestinal repair and maintain the integrity of the epithelium layer of the gastrointestinal tract.

Leaky gut syndrome. Leaky gut has been described in humans as a condition in which the intestines become permeable to dangerous substances that can then enter the blood stream and create a variety of illnesses. In horses, we see this occur during episodes of gastric and colonic ulcerations, as well as cecal acidosis, caused by excess fermentation of sugars, starch, and long chain polysaccharides such as fructans. This condition potentially leads to laminitis, as well as digestive disorders and reduced immunity. Bovine colostrum keeps the intestinal mucosal lining sealed, thereby preventing the absorption of various allergens and toxins. Lactoferrin acts as an antimicrobial agent and protects gut immunity.

Obesity. Colostrum has been shown to help burn body fat. Researchers have revealed that Insulin Growth Factor (IGF-1) is the only natural hormone capable of promoting muscle growth by itself. This has an impact on obesity for two reasons. First, increased muscle mass improves the basal metabolic rate. And secondly, IGF-1 shifts fuel from carbohydrates to fat, meaning that the body will burn more body fat to provide energy.

Insulin resistance. Here is a fascinating find! Bovine colostrum supplementation has been shown to facilitate the movement of glucose into muscle, thereby reducing blood glucose, as well as triglycerides. In other words, colostrum can positively impact the negative consequences of insulin resistance. This has recently been studied in human patients with Type 2 diabetes, and it is reasonable to adapt this information to horses suffering from insulin resistance and resulting fat deposition. 

Muscles, joints and ligaments. Insulin-like Growth Factors (IGF) promote optimum muscle growth during exercise. Researchers have found that human athletes who consume bovine colostrum daily show remarkable improvements in stamina and improved muscle mass. This is good news, not only for athletes, but for aging horses who may be becoming more frail.

Colostrum should be considered for any horse who is suffering from joint and ligament damage. Its IGF content as well as growth factors can repair muscle and cartilage. This has tremendous potential for equine athletes suffering from these types of injuries.

Performance and recovery optimization. A recent study of race horses found that those receiving added colostrum earned thousands of dollars more per race and were able to resume racing faster than those who were not supplemented. In addition, it has long been known that intense activity suppresses the immune function, both in humans as well as horses. Colostrum supplementation shows great promise in its apparent ability to stimulate neutrophil’s oxidative response following prolonged exercise. This definitely has ramifications for all horse performance disciplines.

Respiratory disease. Influenza, herpesviruses, rhinitis viruses, as well as bacterial infections are the most common causes of respiratory illness. Researchers found that a colostrum-based supplement was highly beneficial in reducing the duration of respiratory infections in Thoroughbred race horses and provided a nutraceutical alternative to drugs when treating the disease.

And there’s more…

This article would need to be far longer to cover all of colostrum’s potential benefits. Research has been performed in a vast variety of areas. Physical endurance, wound repair, bone healing, vaccination response, skin health, neurological disorders, heart disease, and even cancer are positively impacted by this exceptional food. I encourage you to search online for colostrum research pertaining to your particular concern.

Source and dosing 

Look for colostrum that is from a source that is harvested during the first few hours of lactation.In order for colostrum to be biologically active, it must be processed at low temperatures. And it is critical that these cows should not have received any antibiotics or bovine growth hormone.In order for colostrum to be biologically active, it must be processed at low temperatures. And it is critical that these cows should not have received any antibiotics or bovine growth hormone.[i]

For overall maintenance of health, 10,000 mg of colostrum per day is appropriate for a full-sized horse. For injury or illness, this amount can be doubled. It is completely safe at higher dosages.

Bottom line

Colostrum is not just baby food. It has been used by adult humans and animals for hundreds of years with remarkable results. Its impact on the horse industry is starting to show promise, revealing itself as an amazing tool to help your horses maintain optimal health.

For the extensive list of 22 research references on which this article is based, please view it online at http://gettyequinenutrition.biz/libary/colostrumanexceptionalsuperfood.htm.

Permission to reprint this article is granted, provided attribution is given to Juliet M. Getty, Ph.D. No editorial changes may be made without her permission. Dr. Getty appreciates being notified of any publication.

Juliet M. Getty, Ph.D. is an independent equine nutritionist with a wide U.S. and international following. Her research-based approach optimizes equine health by aligning physiology and instincts with correct feeding and nutrition practices. Dr. Getty’s goal is to empower the horseperson with the confidence and knowledge to provide the best nutrition for his or her horse’s needs.

Dr. Getty’s fundamental resource book, Feed Your Horse Like a Horse, is available at www.GettyEquineNutrition.com — buy it there and have it inscribed by the author, or get it at Amazon (www.Amazon.com) or other online retail bookstores. The seven individual volumes in Dr. Getty’s topic-centered “Spotlight on Equine Nutrition” series are available with special package pricing at her website, and also at Amazon in print and Kindle versions. Dr. Getty’s books make ideal gifts for equestrians.

Find a world of useful information for the horseperson at www.GettyEquineNutrition.com: Sign up for Dr. Getty’s informative, free e-newsletter, Forage for Thought; browse her library of reference articles; search her nutrition forum; and purchase recordings of her educational teleseminars. Shop with no shipping charges for supplements, feeders, and other equine-related items at her online store. Reach Dr. Getty directly at gettyequinenutrition@gmail.com. She is available for private consultations and speaking engagements.

[i] Colostrum produced by ForeFront Equine is a superb source. It is available at Dr. Getty’s Free Shipping Supplement Store: http://horsesupplements.gettyequinenutrition.biz

Dr. Getty’s Tip: Reduce Risk Of Infection When Traveling

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www.GettyEquineNutrition.com

March 22, 2016

For many horses, this is the season for traveling to horse shows and events. Considering periodic outbreaks of equine herpes virus (EHV-1) and other infectious diseases, it is critical that your horse be in top physical health before embarking to an unfamiliar area. The foundation of that health is a strong immune system. Added antioxidants and supportive nutrients can have a positive impact on your horse’s ability to resist an infection.

Boost supplementation of the following nutrients per day for at least two weeks before you leave and throughout the travels or event; wean your horse off of them for two weeks following your return:

  • Vitamins E and C: 5 IUs of vitamin E and 5 mg of vitamin C per pound (0.45 kg) of body weight
  • Selenium: 3 to 5 mg of selenium
  • Vitamin A: 30 to 60 IUs per pound (.45 kg) of body weight
  • Omega 3 fatty acids: 1/4 cup chia seeds or 1Ž2 cup ground flaxseeds per 400 lbs (180 kg) of body weight
  • Protein: 14-16% of the diet, and of high quality protein by feeding a variety of protein sources
  • Magnesium: 5,000 mg of magnesium per 500 lbs (227 kg) of body weight
  • B vitamins: Provide a potent B complex preparation.

Be sure to check how much of these nutrients your horse may already be getting from commercial feeds and supplements, and calculate to add only enough to boost quantities as noted above.

Remember that stress suppresses immune function. An empty stomach is incredibly stressful — both mentally uncomfortable and physically painful. Protect your horse by allowing him to graze on hay (and pasture, if available) at all times, throughout the day and night. And never let him perform without some forage in his digestive tract.

Attention to increased nutritional needs will go a long way toward keeping your horse healthy during the time away from his familiar surroundings and routine.

 

Permission to reprint this article is granted, provided attribution is given to Juliet M. Getty, Ph.D. No editorial changes may be made without her permission. Dr. Getty appreciates being notified of any publication.

 

Juliet M. Getty, Ph.D. is an independent equine nutritionist with a wide U.S. and international following. Her research-based approach optimizes equine health by aligning physiology and instincts with correct feeding and nutrition practices.

 

Dr. Getty’s comprehensive resource book, Feed Your Horse Like a Horse, is available at www.GettyEquineNutrition.com — buy it there and have it inscribed by the author, or get it at Amazon (www.Amazon.com) or other online retail bookstores. The seven separate volumes in Dr. Getty’s topic-centered “Spotlight on Equine Nutrition” series are available with special package pricing at her website, and also at Amazon in print and Kindle versions. Dr. Getty’s books make ideal gifts for equestrians.

 

Find a world of useful information for the horseperson at www.GettyEquineNutrition.com: Sign up for Dr. Getty’s informative, free e-newsletter, Forage for Thought; browse her library of reference articles; search her nutrition forum; and purchase recordings of her educational teleseminars. Reach Dr. Getty directly at gettyequinenutrition@gmail.com. She is available for private consultations and speaking engagements.

 

AHP has not verified the factual statements in any message and AHP assumes no responsibility for the contents of, or any damage resulting from, any communication in the Newsgroup. Publication in the AHP Newsgroup is not an endorsement by the organization of any product, person, or policy. Complaints or concerns about the content of AHP Newsgroup postings should be directed to the originating individual or organization and not to AHP, which cannot resolve disputes arising between members. Complaints of copyright or trademark infringement may be addressed to the Executive Director.

Members may unsubscribe to the AHP Newsgroup at any time by sending an e-mail message to Chris at ahorsepubs@aol.com requesting to remove your e-mail address from the list. By doing this you will remove your name from receiving all future messages sent to the AHP-LIST until you contact us to re-subscribe.

Add Serving Of Caution To The Tender Spring Grass

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

March 17, 2016

www.GettyEquineNutrition.com

By Juliet M. Getty, Ph.D.

 

Spring is almost upon us in most of the country, so it’s time to revisit that critical topic: spring grazing.
Transitioning a horse from hay to pasture must be handled with care; this point is non-negotiable. For every horse, a gradual change from hay to grass is required to allow the digestive system to adapt, but for the insulin-resistant horse, grazing time and duration can make the difference between soundness and a disabling condition like laminitis. This time of year can be a test of patience for horse—and owner. The horse may be pawing at the gate to get to the first taste of tender spring grass, yet the owner must pay close attention to making the transition safe and healthful.

As the leaves form from the first spring sprouts, the sugar and starch content increases, making it especially tempting. Regardless of the growth stage, quantities should be monitored because horses crave fresh grass and will eat volumes of it, making their overall non-structural carbohydrate (NSC) consumption dangerously high for horses who are overweight, cushingoid, or who have experienced pasture-related laminitis.

Temperature and sunlight play a major role in the amount of NSC accumulation. To be safe, here are the rules:

  • When the night temperature is below 40 degrees F, the grass is too high in NSC.
  • Once it gets above 40 degrees F at night, the lowest NSC level is before the sun rises.
  • The NSC level is highest in late afternoon, after a sunny day.

 

There is no exact “best time” to turn out your horses on pasture. Generally speaking in moderate climates, it’s safest before dawn, until approximately 10:00 am, and then again at night, starting at around 11:00 pm. Start slowly, offering hay when horses are not on fresh grass.

Finally, test your pasture! Yes, testing is not only for hay. It will take the guesswork out of knowing which times are best.

 

Permission to reprint this article is granted, provided attribution is given to Juliet M. Getty, Ph.D. No editorial changes may be made without her permission. Dr. Getty appreciates being notified of any publication.

 

Juliet M. Getty, Ph.D. is an independent equine nutritionist with a wide U.S. and international following. Her research-based approach optimizes equine health by aligning physiology and instincts with correct feeding and nutrition practices.

 

Dr. Getty’s comprehensive resource book, Feed Your Horse Like a Horse, is available at www.GettyEquineNutrition.com — buy it there and have it inscribed by the author, or get it at Amazon (www.Amazon.com) or other online retail bookstores. The seven separate volumes in Dr. Getty’s topic-centered “Spotlight on Equine Nutrition” series are available with special package pricing at her website, and also at Amazon in print and Kindle versions. Dr. Getty’s books make ideal gifts for equestrians.

 

Find a world of useful information for the horseperson at www.GettyEquineNutrition.com: Sign up for Dr. Getty’s informative, free e-newsletter, Forage for Thought; browse her library of reference articles; search her nutrition forum; and purchase recordings of her educational teleseminars. Reach Dr. Getty directly at gettyequinenutrition@gmail.com. She is available for private consultations and speaking engagements.

 

AHP has not verified the factual statements in any message and AHP assumes no responsibility for the contents of, or any damage resulting from, any communication in the Newsgroup. Publication in the AHP Newsgroup is not an endorsement by the organization of any product, person, or policy. Complaints or concerns about the content of AHP Newsgroup postings should be directed to the originating individual or organization and not to AHP, which cannot resolve disputes arising between members. Complaints of copyright or trademark infringement may be addressed to the Executive Director.

 

Members may unsubscribe to the AHP Newsgroup at any time by sending an e-mail message to Chris at ahorsepubs@aol.com requesting to remove your e-mail address from the list. By doing this you will remove your name from receiving all future messages sent to the AHP-LIST until you contact us to re-subscribe.

What Is Vegetable Oil?

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
www.GettyEquineNutrition.com
February 23, 2016

What is “Vegetable” Oil?
by Juliet M. Getty, Ph.D.

The ingredient list is your most important source of information when evaluating a feed or supplement for your horse. Items within the ingredient list must be presented in a certain order. According to the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO), the ingredient with the highest percentage of total weight must be listed first with all ingredients listed in descending order. However, under certain conditions, the manufacturer may list ingredients alphabetically, making it difficult to interpret concentrations. Also, feed items are often clumped together in one term.

This is typically the case with added fat. Many manufacturers will list fat content simply as “vegetable oil,” leaving you, the consumer, with absolutely no idea of the source. The only thing this tells you is that the fat is not of animal origin. But there are many vegetable oils available — the most commonly added ones are soybean, corn, and coconut oils. The majority of fatty acids in soybean and corn oils are in the omega 6 variety, which is inflammatory in high amounts when not balanced with omega 3s. Coconut oil does not contain any appreciable omega 3s or 6s, but it is easy to handle because it is solid (due to its highly saturated chemistry); however, research is unclear about whether it is safe for long-term consumption.

Ultimately, it is your responsibility to know what is in your horse’s feed. Call the manufacturer for clarification. Don’t guess when it comes to your horse’s health.
________________________________________________

Permission to reprint this article is granted, provided attribution is given to Juliet M. Getty, Ph.D. No editorial changes may be made without her permission. Dr. Getty appreciates being notified of any publication.

Juliet M. Getty, Ph.D. is an independent equine nutritionist with a wide U.S. and international following. Her research-based approach optimizes equine health by aligning physiology and instincts with correct feeding and nutrition practices.

Dr. Getty’s comprehensive resource book, Feed Your Horse Like a Horse, is available at www.GettyEquineNutrition.com — buy it there and have it inscribed by the author, or get it at Amazon (www.Amazon.com) or other online retail bookstores. The seven separate volumes in Dr. Getty’s topic-centered “Spotlight on Equine Nutrition” series are available with special package pricing at her website, and also at Amazon in print and Kindle versions. Dr. Getty’s books make ideal gifts for equestrians.

Find a world of useful information for the horseperson at www.GettyEquineNutrition.com: Sign up for Dr. Getty’s informative, free e-newsletter, Forage for Thought; browse her library of reference articles; search her nutrition forum; and purchase recordings of her educational teleseminars. Reach Dr. Getty directly at gettyequinenutrition@gmail.com. She is available for private consultations and speaking engagements.
________________________________________
AHP has not verified the factual statements in any message and AHP assumes no responsibility for the contents of, or any damage resulting from, any communication in the Newsgroup. Publication in the AHP Newsgroup is not an endorsement by the organization of any product, person, or policy. Complaints or concerns about the content of AHP Newsgroup postings should be directed to the originating individual or organization and not to AHP, which cannot resolve disputes arising between members. Complaints of copyright or trademark infringement may be addressed to the Executive Director.
Members may unsubscribe to the AHP Newsgroup at any time by sending an e-mail message to Chris at ahorsepubs@aol.com requesting to remove your e-mail address from the list. By doing this you will remove your name from receiving all future messages sent to the AHP-LIST until you contact us to re-subscribe.

Six Points To Consider Before Using A Calming Supplement

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by Juliet M. Getty Ph.D. | Apr 29, 2015 |

Travel and competition season is upon us, and “show nerves” are common, even in horses. Agitated, nervous horses that are normally well behaved may benefit from a calming supplement. These products can contain vitamins, or minerals, or herbs, or amino acids. So, which to choose and how best to use them? Before making a decision, consider these important points:
•An empty stomach is the main cause for behavioral issues—forage (hay and/or pasture) should be available at all times.
•Magnesium deficiency may be the issue, since most horses don’t get enough of this mineral—if this is true for your horse, supplementing 5,000 mg of magnesium per 500 lbs of body weight will make a positive change in demeanor.
•A borderline B vitamin deficiency will affect behavior and can result when the hindgut microbial population is compromised by stress, high starch diets, illness, or antibiotics. Thiamin (vitamin B1) has been shown to be especially effective at high doses (1 mg per pound of body weight). Prebiotics that feed existing microbes also result in more B vitamin production.
•Tryptophan, an essential amino acid, leads to serotonin synthesis in the brain and can be useful in soothing a nervous horse. For this effect to occur, it is best to offer tryptophan as a paste between meals. When added to a meal, tryptophan will not be used for serotonin production and the calming effect will be significantly diminished
•Caution! Herbs such as chamomile, valerian, black cohosh, ginger root, and passion flower may have an over-tranquilizing effect, interact with other medications, and have side effects. Consult with your veterinarian before using.
•Additional caution to you competitors out there: Always check any supplements for ingredients prohibited by competition rules. Valerian is such an example.

Permission to reprint this article is granted, provided attribution is given to Juliet M. Getty, Ph.D. No editorial changes may be made without her permission. Dr. Getty appreciates being notified of any publication.

Juliet M. Getty, Ph.D. is an independent equine nutritionist with a wide American and international following. Her research-based approach optimizes equine health by aligning physiology and instincts with correct feeding and nutrition practices.

Dr. Getty’s comprehensive resource book, Feed Your Horse Like a Horse, is available at www.GettyEquineNutrition.com–buy it there and have it inscribed by the author. Or get it at Amazon (www.Amazon.com) or other online retail bookstores. The seven separate volumes in Dr. Getty’s topic-centered Spotlight on Equine Nutrition series are available with special package pricing at her website, and also at Amazon in print and Kindle versions. Dr. Getty’s books make ideal gifts.

Find a world of useful information for the horseperson at www.GettyEquineNutrition.com: Sign up for Dr. Getty’s informative, free e-newsletter, Forage for Thought; browse her library of reference articles; search her nutrition forum; and purchase recordings of her educational teleseminars. Reach Dr. Getty directly at gettyequinenutrition@gmail.com. She is available for private consultations and speaking engagements.

This spring! On May 2, 2015, hear Dr. Getty address issues in horse nutrition at the Kirkland House Foundation in Delta, British Columbia, sponsored by “Hay…Girl!” For more information on this event, contact Pam Janssen at precioushaygirl@gmail.com or call 604-961-7265.

How To Feed A Severely Neglected Rescue Horse

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When we can offer a safe, caring home to a severely neglected horse, everyone in the horse world cheers. If you have recently adopted a rescue horse, let me first commend you for your actions. Saving a horse that is in desperate need of care and nursing him back to health can be one of the most gratifying experiences a horse owner can have. But you must be committed to giving him a lot of time and attention. The transition period is critical. He’ll need to be moved in and out of pasture throughout the day, fed hay nearly every couple of hours, and given frequent supplemental meals until he gets to where he can hold his own.

If your horse is very thin due to starvation, you will want to proceed slowly and with caution, giving his body a chance to adjust to change with each step. Some horses are in such poor condition they are unable to eat. In this extreme situation, your veterinarian will use a stomach tube to feed the horse. This is a short term procedure with the goal of getting your horse interested in eating again.

Ulcers can complicate the rehabilitation process. Retired race horses almost invariably have ulcers. Your veterinarian may prescribe an ulcer medication, but this can only be used for a month or so. The three long term components of healing an ulcer are: chewing on hay or pasture at all times, plenty of water, and reduction in stress.

Your ultimate goal is to allow your rescued horse to graze freely, as much as he wants, on hay and/or pasture. You’ll want his forage to include a legume such as clover or alfalfa. But take your time — you can’t just put him out on pasture right away if he’s been severely deprived. No matter how gratifying the sight of him grazing 24/7 will be, you must allow time for his digestive tract to adjust to the influx of food. The microbial population in his hindgut is not adequate for fiber digestion; too much, too soon and he may colic or founder.

Here is my recommendation for an 1100 lb horse (his normal weight):

  • Give him a probiotic, at a double dose, every day for approximately one month; then reduce the dosage to a maintenance level.
  • Start with 1 lb of grass hay every two hours, or pasture grazing for 30 minutes with an hour break in between. At night, leave him with 4 lbs of hay, plenty of water, and a plain, white salt block along with granulated salt, offered free-choice.
  • After 3 days, increase the amount of hay to 2 lbs per every two hours and give him 8 lbs of hay at night.
  • By the end of two weeks, he should be able to have hay available free-choice or graze on pasture 24/7. Be sure he has enough at night to last him throughout the night. There should be some hay left over in the morning.
  • Starting at week three, add alfalfa to his hay ration. Start with 1 lb per day for 3 days, and add one more pound every three days, until you reach a total of 8 to 10 lbs per day. If you’re not able to obtain alfalfa hay, get hay cubes. Break them into small pieces and let them soak for a few minutes. Feed them as a snack throughout the day.
  • Also starting at week three, you’ll want to begin feeding him 6 small meals each day. You can use a commercial senior or performance feed that contains 14-16% protein, at least 18% fiber, and at least 8% fat.  Each meal should contain:

o   4 cups feed  (weighs approximately 1 lb or .5 kg)

o   1/4 cup (60 ml) flaxseed meal  (stabilized, commercial product is best)

o   200 IU Vitamin E (you can get capsules in your local pharmacy)

o   Probiotic (double dose , spread over 6 meals)

o   500 mg of Vitamin C

Gradually decrease the number of meals, every two weeks, but increase the amount of feed in each meal so that by the end of one month, in addition to a full ration of forage, you are providing two to three meals per day, with no more than 4 lbs of feed per meal.  Maintain supplements and if your horse is older than 16, provide additional vitamin C.

The upside to the time and attention—in addition to seeing your horse regain his health and vibrancy—is that you will get to know your new horse very well, and together you will enjoy many good years ahead.

Permission to reprint this article is granted, provided attribution is given to Juliet M. Getty, Ph.D. No editorial changes may be made without her permission. Dr. Getty appreciates being notified of any publication.

Juliet M. Getty, Ph.D. is an independent equine nutritionist with a wide American and international following. Her research-based approach optimizes equine health by aligning physiology and instincts with correct feeding and nutrition practices.

Dr. Getty’s comprehensive resource book, Feed Your Horse Like a Horse, is available at www.GettyEquineNutrition.com–buy it there and have it inscribed by the author. Or get it at Amazon (www.Amazon.com) or other online retail bookstores. The seven separate volumes in Dr. Getty’s topic-centered Spotlight on Equine Nutrition series are available with special package pricing at her website, and also at Amazon in print and Kindle versions. Dr. Getty’s books make ideal gifts.

Find a world of useful information for the horseperson at www.GettyEquineNutrition.com: Sign up for Dr. Getty’s informative, free e-newsletter, Forage for Thought; browse her library of reference articles; search her nutrition forum; and purchase recordings of her educational teleseminars. Reach Dr. Getty directly at gettyequinenutrition@gmail.com. She is available for private consultations and speaking engagements.

This spring! On May 2, 2015, hear Dr. Getty address issues in horse nutrition at the Kirkland House Foundation in Delta, British Columbia, sponsored by “Hay…Girl!” For more information on this event, contact Pam Janssen at precioushaygirl@gmail.com or call 604-961-7265.

Dr. Getty’s Tip: Too Much Iron Can Be Detrimental To The Insulin Resistant Horse

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Are you adding a supplement to your horse’s diet that contains iron? You may want to consider changing it if your horse is overweight, diagnosed with insulin resistance, or suffers from equine Cushing’s disease. Studies have shown a direct correlation between iron intake and insulin levels in the blood, making it an important factor in managing the diet for these horses.

Forages (pasture, hay, hay pellets or cubes) are already high in this mineral; therefore, supplementation is not necessary. Iron deficiency anemia is rare and too much iron can potentially lead to laminitis, as well as create an imbalance with other minerals.

Forages grown from acidic soils will be higher in iron. If you grow your own hay, or can discuss this issue with your hay provider, consider increasing the pH of the soil through lime application.  To protect your horse, have your hay analyzed and choose a vitamin/mineral supplement that does not include iron. Calculate the total iron intake in the diet; though an upper tolerable limit for all horses is 500 ppm, it should be far less for sensitive horses.  Soaking hay can remove much of the iron, but will also remove other minerals. Balance iron with zinc and copper:  iron should not be more than 5 times the level of zinc, and the zinc to copper ratio should range from 3:1 to 5:1.

Permission to reprint this article is granted, provided attribution is given to Juliet M. Getty, Ph.D. No editorial changes may be made without her permission. Dr. Getty appreciates being notified of any publication.

Juliet M. Getty, Ph.D. is an independent equine nutritionist with a wide American and international following. Her research-based approach optimizes equine health by aligning physiology and instincts with correct feeding and nutrition practices.

Dr. Getty’s comprehensive resource book, Feed Your Horse Like a Horse, is available at www.GettyEquineNutrition.com–buy it there and have it inscribed by the author. Or get it at Amazon (www.Amazon.com) or other online retail bookstores. The seven separate volumes in Dr. Getty’s topic-centered Spotlight on Equine Nutrition series are available with special package pricing at her website, and also at Amazon in print and Kindle versions. Dr. Getty’s books make ideal gifts.

Find a world of useful information for the horseperson at www.GettyEquineNutrition.com: Sign up for Dr. Getty’s informative, free e-newsletter, Forage for Thought; browse her library of reference articles; search her nutrition forum; and purchase recordings of her educational teleseminars. Reach Dr. Getty directly at gettyequinenutrition@gmail.com. She is available for private consultations and speaking engagements.

This spring! On May 2, 2015, hear Dr. Getty address issues in horse nutrition at the Kirkland House Foundation in Delta, British Columbia, sponsored by “Hay…Girl!” For more information on this event, contact Pam Janssen at precioushaygirl@gmail.com or call 604-961-7265.

Obesity. The Real Cause. The Real Fix.

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Obesity is an epidemic problem with domesticated horses. Although we most easily attribute the problem to overfeeding concentrates combined with too little exercise, the underlying cause is much less apparent. It has to do with the horse’s brain and his response to stress — a chronic low-grade, inflammatory stress.

Stress tells the horse that he is not safe

Discomfort, from any source, induces a biochemical response in the brain that triggers the horse to do whatever he can to survive. Research with a variety of species has repeatedly shown[i] that stress tells the body to hold on to fat; the chemical changes that occur are similar to those produced during a famine. This is based on a primitive need to feel safe. Therefore, stress “tricks” the horse’s body into gaining weight just to survive.

Stress can come from many sources – stall confinement, isolation from buddies, sleep deprivation, change in environment, travel to strange locations, excessive training and performing, pain and illness, exposure to toxins, and the most stressful of all – not being allowed to graze on forage at all times. Forage restriction is incredibly stressful.[ii]  Putting the horse on a “diet” by limiting the amount of hay he can have will create a chain of chemical reactions that prevent the very outcome the “diet” was meant to ensure. Let’s look at more specifics…

Stress, cortisol, insulin, and leptin

Stress causes the adrenal gland to release the hormone cortisol. Cortisol tells the tissues to ignore insulin’s attempts to get glucose into the cells.[iii] So insulin increases to try to overcome this, but not very successfully. When insulin is elevated, the cells hold on to body fat. And when body fat increases, it releases a hormone called leptin. Normally, leptin is a good thing, but not in this case.

The brain can become resistant to leptin. Under normal circumstances, leptin (secreted from fat tissue), goes to the satiety center in the hypothalamus portion of the brain to tell it that the horse has had enough to eat and is satisfied.[iv] This is the body’s way of maintaining normal weight: fat increases, leptin rises, the brain says the body has had enough to eat, and weight comes down.

The excess body fat of obese horses promotes inflammation through its secretion of substances known as cytokines.[v] Cytokines can damage the areas within the hypothalamus that recognize leptin.[vi] Leptin is high, but the brain is not responding to it. The result? The appetite does not decrease; instead the horse keeps on eating, getting more obese, producing more cytokines, increasing inflammatory damage to the hypothalamus, resulting in greater leptin resistance.

Perhaps you’ve had your horse’s cortisol level checked and it is normal. You assume that stress is therefore not an issue. But this can lead to a false assumption. Cortisol can actually be elevated inside the cell and not in the bloodstream, due to the overexpression of an enzyme called 11-beta-hydroxysteroid-dehydrogenase-1, present in fat, liver and brain cells that produces active cortisol. This has been shown in several species, including horses,[vii] and leads to the vicious cycle resulting in hypothalamic damage.

The over-use of thyroid medication

Elevated cortisol can reduce T4 levels leading one to believe that thyroid medication is necessary. But reduced T4 under this circumstance is not an indication that the thyroid gland is underactive, nor is it an indication that more thyroid medication is needed to help the horse lose weight. Furthermore, adding T4 to the diet will not do any good if the horse is stressed, simply because excess cortisol interferes with the conversion of T4 to T3, the active hormonal form.

Horses with a history of long-term forage restriction

Some horses have suffered from forage restriction for so many years that their metabolic rate has become severely impaired. For these, modest, short-term weight gain can be a consequence of free-choice feeding. Be patient. The transition can take several months. Allow your horse time to become accustomed—both physically and psychologically—to this new way of eating. Healthy weight loss takes time. When fed following the steps outlined below, the large majority of horses, even those grossly overweight, will adjust, lose weight and in time, arrive at a healthy body condition.

Is your horse leptin resistant?

The leptin resistant horse will, first and foremost, have excess body fat. His appetite will seem insatiable and he will rarely lift his head from eating. His metabolic rate is sluggish, causing him to pack on the pounds very easily. He is reluctant to move and his energy level is low.

The fix

Reduce inflammation! Three factors to consider:

1) Stress reduction will calm down the cascade of hormonal events that tell the body to hoard fat.

2) Less body fat will create fewer inflammatory substances. Insulin (an inflammatory hormone) will also decline.

3) Less inflammation will help the hypothalamus return to a normal leptin response.

Important to understand: Once the horse loses body fat, the brain will initially remain leptin resistant, making the horse very hungry so he could gain back all the weight. Therefore, the approach must be to heal the inflammatory signaling in the hypothalamus.

To do this:

  • Never let your horse run out of forage, not even for a few minutes. Not only is free-choice forage feeding critical to your horse’s overall health[viii] , it also increases the metabolic rate.[ix] Feed appropriate hay and/or pasture that is low in calories, sugar, and starch.[x]
  • Add a comprehensive vitamin/mineral supplement to hay-based diets. It fills in nutritional gaps and reduces overeating to simply obtain enough nutrients.
  • Avoid processed foods. These can contain inflammatory preservatives and omega 6 fatty acids (typically from soybean and corn oils).
  • Feed whole foods free of additives and toxins.[xi] Whole foods can include non-GMO beet pulp, alfalfa, hay pellets, copra meal, split peas, hemp seeds, ground flaxseeds, chia seeds, blue-green algae, and various fruits and vegetables. Limit soybean meal — the long term impact of isoflavones (the phytoestrogen found in soy) on the thyroid gland is controversial.
  • Feed a variety of protein sources by mixing grasses and adding whole foods. When only one or two sources of protein are fed, the excess amino acids can be converted to glucose, potentially increasing insulin.
  • Eliminate excess sugar and starch. These include sweetened feeds, cereal grains, wheat middlings, and rice bran. They raise insulin as well as triglycerides. Triglycerides can bind to leptin in the blood stream and prevent it from signaling satiety to the brain.[xii]
  • Avoid high-omega 6 oils. They are highly inflammatory (e.g., soybean, vegetable, corn, wheat germ, and safflower oils).
  • Increase omega 3s. Feed ground flaxseeds or chia seeds. Fish oils can be included in cases of high levels of inflammation.
  • Add antioxidants. These include vitamins E and C, beta carotene (vitamin A), lipoic acid, grapeseed extract, green tea extract, spirulina,  as well as herbs including turmeric, boswellia, and ashwaghanda (which is particularly useful in combatting stress).[xiii]
  • Avoid prolonged use of H2 receptor blockers and proton pump inhibitors. They can interfere with the body’s ability to absorb nutrients and create rebound acid production upon removal.
  • Add a probiotic for digestive health. Horses who graze on pasture will naturally consume a variety of microbes. Hay-based diets, however, may not offer enough microbes for proper digestion of forage.  Stress can also disrupt the horse’s normal microbial flora.
  • Allow for movement. Exercise increases insulin sensitivity and lessens inflammatory cytokines.[xiv] It has also been shown to directly reduce hypothalamic inflammation.[xv]
  • Limit grazing muzzles. They can defeat the purpose if they cause stress. They should be limited to no more than 3 hours per day because the digestive tract needs more forage than they allow.
  • Consider slow feeders. Not all horses require them, but they are helpful initially to allow for slowing down intake.[xvi]
  • Keep stall confinement to a minimum, if at all. Horses who have room to roam can be as fit as those who receive daily focused exercise, and they are under far less stress.

Free-choice hay costs less

Many barn owners are reluctant to feed hay free-choice because of the apparent expense involved in purchasing more hay. But in actuality, horses who are permitted to self-regulate their intake will eat less. It’s only when several hours lapse between feeding that they eat very quickly and consume everything in sight. But when they get the message that hay is always available, that they can walk away from it and it will still be there when they return – then, and only then will they eat just what their bodies need to maintain a healthy weight. They will actually eat less than before.

Can your horse ever graze on fresh pasture again?

Absolutely! Living, healthy grass is the best whole food around. Grazing in the open air is the best stress reducer your horse can experience. The amount of grazing depends on your horse’s individual condition. Yes, pasture can be high in sugar and starch but it can vary depending on the month, the time of day, level of rainfall, sunlight, etc. Get to know your pasture grasses.

Bottom line

Turn off the body’s fat-hoarding response by taking measures to reduce stress. Combine this with an anti-inflammatory diet and increased movement, and your horse’s brain will regain its ability to respond properly to leptin. Taking off weight will become much easier.

For permission to reprint this article, in part or in its entirety, please contact Dr. Getty directly at gettyequinenutrition@gmail.com.

Juliet M. Getty, Ph.D. is an independent equine nutritionist with a wide American and international following. Her research-based approach optimizes equine health by aligning physiology and instincts with correct feeding and nutrition practices.

Dr. Getty’s comprehensive resource book, Feed Your Horse Like a Horse, is available at www.GettyEquineNutrition.com–buy it there and have it inscribed by the author. Or get it at Amazon (www.Amazon.com) or other online retail bookstores. The seven separate volumes in Dr. Getty’s topic-centered Spotlight on Equine Nutrition series are available with special package pricing at her website, and also at Amazon in print and Kindle versions. Dr. Getty’s books make ideal gifts.

Find a world of useful information for the horseperson at www.GettyEquineNutrition.com: Sign up for Dr. Getty’s informative, free e-newsletter, Forage for Thought; browse her library of reference articles; search her nutrition forum; and purchase recordings of her educational teleseminars. Reach Dr. Getty directly at gettyequinenutrition@gmail.com. She is available for private consultations and speaking engagements.

This spring! On May 2, 2015, hear Dr. Getty address issues in horse nutrition at the Kirkland House Foundation in Delta, British Columbia, sponsored by “Hay…Girl!” For more information on this event, contact Pam Janssen at precioushaygirl@gmail.com or call 604-961-7265.

[i] Block, J.S., He, Y., Zaslavsky, A.M., et. al., 2009. Psychosocial stress and change in weight among U.S. adults. American Journal of Epidemiology, 170, 181-192. Also, Gabriel, J., 2008. The Gabriel Method. Atria Books.

[ii] Getty, J.M. 2014. Restricting forage is incredibly stressful. Choose a different method to help your horse lose weight. http://gettyequinenutrition.biz/library/restrictingforageisincrediblystressful.htm

[iii] Tiley, H.A., Geor, R.J., and McCutcheon, L. J., 2007. Effects of dexamethasone on glucose dynamics and insulin sensitivity in healthy horses. American Journal of Veterinary Research, 68(7), 753-759.

[iv] Freidman, J., and Halaas, J., 1998. Leptin and the regulation of body weight in mammals. Nature, 395, 763-770.

[v] Wisse, B., 2004. The inflammatory syndrome: The roles of adipose tissue cytokines in metabolic disorders linked to obesity. Journal of the American Society of Nephrology, 15(11), 2792-2800.

[vi] De Git, K.C., and Adan, R.A., 2015. Leptin resistance in diet-induced obesity: The role of hypothalamic inflammation. World Obesity, (16(3), 207-224.

[vii] Farias, F.H.G., 2007. 11Beta-Hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase activity in feline, equine, and Ossabaw swine adipose tissue. Master of Science Thesis, University of Missouri-Columbia. Also, Morgan, S.A., Sherlock, M., Gathercole, L.L., et al., 2009. 11Beta-Hydroxysteroid Dehydrogenase Type 1 regulates glucocorticoid-induced insulin resistance in skeletal muscle. Diabetes, 58(11), 2506-2515.

[viii] Getty, J.M., 2014. Equine Digestion – It’s Decidedly Different. http://gettyequinenutrition.biz/TeleSeminars/TeleseminarBooks/SpotlightonEquineNutritionTeleseminarSeries.htm

[ix] Lestelle, LR., Earl, L.R., Thompson, Jr., et.al., 2011. Insulin-glucose dose response curves in insulin sensitive and insensitive mares and effect of overnight and long-term feeding regimen. Journal of Equine Veterinary Science, 31, 285-286.

[x] Getty, J.M., 2015. Do you need to analyze your hay? http://gettyequinenutrition.biz/library/doyouneedtoanalyzeyourhay.htm

[xi] Berkseth, K.E., Guyenet, S.J., Melhorn, S.J., et. al., 2014. Hypothalamic gliosis associated with high-fat diet feeding is reversible in mice: A combined immunohistochemical and magnetic resonance imaging study. Endocrinology, 155(8), 2858-2867.

[xii] Banks, W.A., Coon, A.B., Robinson, S.M., et. al., 2004. Triglycerides induce leptin resistance at the blood-brain barrier. Diabetes, 53(5), 1253-1260.

[xiii]Schell, T., DVM, 2015. Reducing the effects of stress and anxiety of health with ashwaghanda. Nouvelle Research www.nouvelleresearch.com

[xiv]Liburt, N.R., Fugaro, M.N., Wunderlich, E.K., et. al., 2011. The effect of exercise training on insulin sensitivity and fat and muscle tissue cytokine profiles of old and young Standardbred mares. Journal of Equine Veterinary Science, 31(5-6), 237-238.

[xv] Yi, C.X., Al-Massadi, O., Donelan, E., et. al., 2012. Exercise protects against high-fat diet-induced hypothalamic inflammation. Physiology & Behavior, 106(4), 485-490.

[xvi] Getty, J.M., 2014. The correct way to use slow-feeders. http://gettyequinenutrition.biz/library/thecorrectwaytouseslowfeeders.htm

Dr. Getty’s Tip: Calculating With PPM In Two Easy Steps

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The trace mineral content of most feeds and supplements is provided in terms of parts per million (ppm). A ppm is the same as mg/kg (1 mg is a millionth of a kg).

To do calculations, you need to convert lb or oz to kg using the following conversions:

  • 1 lb equals 0.454 kg
  • 1 oz equals 0.0284 kg

Example #1: Your hay contains 140 ppm of iron.  How much iron is in 20 lbs of hay?

Step 1: 20 lb X 0.454 kg/lb = 9.08 kg

Step 2: 9.08 kg X 140 mg/kg = 1271 mg of iron

Example #2: Your supplement contains 12 ppm of selenium in each ounce and you are feeding 2 ounces per day. How much selenium are you feeding?

Step 1: 2 X .0284 kg/oz = 0.057 kg

Step 2: 0.057 kg X 12 mg/kg = 0.68 mg of selenium

Formulas to remember:

  • Convert lb or oz to kg: lb X 0.454 = kg; oz X 0.0284 = kg
  • Calculate to find mg: kg X ppm (or mg/kg) = mg

About Dr. Juliet M. Getty
Juliet M. Getty, Ph.D. is an internationally respected, independent equine nutritionist who believes that optimizing horse health comes from understanding how the horse’s physiology and instincts determine the correct feeding and nutrition practices. She is available for private consultations and speaking engagements. Hear Dr. Getty address issues in horse nutrition at the Kirkland House Foundation in Delta, British Columbia, sponsored by “Hay…Girl!” on May 2, 2015. For more information, contact Pam Janssen at precioushaygirl@gmail.com or call 604-961-7265.

Dr. Getty’s comprehensive resource book, Feed Your Horse Like a Horse, is available at Dr. Getty’s website, www.gettyequinenutrition.com, as well as from Amazon (www.Amazon.com) and other online book retailers. The seven separate volumes in Dr. Getty’s topic-centered “Spotlight on Equine Nutrition” series are also available at her website (where Dr. Getty offers special package pricing) and from Amazon (in print and Kindle versions) and from other online retailers. Dr. Getty’s books make ideal gifts for horse-loving friends.

Dr. Getty’s website, www.gettyequinenutrition.com, offers a generous stock of free, useful information for the horseperson. Sign up for her free monthly newsletter, Forage for Thought; browse her library of reference articles; search her nutrition forum; and purchase recordings of her educational teleseminars. Reach Dr. Getty at gettyequinenutrition@gmail.com.

Do You Need To Analyze Your Hay?

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Many horses rely entirely on hay for their forage needs. Is hay nutritious? Not very. Hay is dead grass; it no longer contains many of the vitamins, omega 3s and omega 6s it once had as living pasture. It does, however, contain protein, carbohydrates, and minerals, and is a significant source of energy. But does it have enough to maintain health? Testing will help remove the guesswork out of diet planning.

Feasible approaches to testing

It is best to have at least 2 month’s supply of hay, but you may not have enough space to store that much. Or you may board your horse where a new supply is brought in every week, often from different growers.

Consider recommending testing to your barn manager or hay provider. Hay brokers who test their hay and sell it along with a guaranteed analysis often find that customers are willing to pay slightly more for each bale. If the providers are not willing to do this, you might consider offering to pay for the test; it will help you as well as other horse owners.

Knowing the nutrient content of your hay is the first step in evaluating any health concerns

While a vitamin/mineral supplement is necessary for filling in the nutritional gaps that exist in hay, there are several components of the hay analysis report that you should pay attention to, depending on the health of your horse. Of particular importance are those horses who are prone to developing laminitis. The feed value of your hay can also influence body weight, immune function, and overall body condition. The table below shows relevant indicators when interpreting your hay analysis report.

 

 Hay Analysis Values that Impact Horse Health 
Digestible Energy DE provides you with the number of calories your horse is getting from the hay, expressed as Mcals/lb or Mcals/kg. DE should be no more than 0.88 Mcals/lb (1.94 Mcals/kg) on an as-fed basis, if the horse is overweight.
Crude Protein CP tells you how much protein (nitrogen) is in the hay but tells you nothing about the variety and proportion of amino acids (which influence quality). To boost protein quality, feed a variety of grasses, and add more protein sources (e.g., ground flax, chia seeds, split peas, hemp seeds, alfalfa, beet pulp, etc.)
NDF Neutral detergent fiber measures water-insoluble, structural components within the cell wall: cellulose, hemicellulose, and lignin; it does not include water-soluble fibers (pectin and mucilage). As plants mature, NDF increases, providing more bulk and less digestibility. Digestible energy and voluntary intake decreases.NDF greater than 60% is worthwhile for overweight horses since it is lower in calories. Lower NDF hays are softer and more digestible, making them appropriate for maintaining body condition of hard keepers, growing horses, and those with higher energy needs.

 

ESC + Starch Ethanol-soluble carbohydrates include simple sugars and short strands of sugars. These, along with starch, are easily digested in the foregut (small intestine) down to glucose, which signals insulin secretion.Insulin elevation promotes body fat storage and increases the risk of laminitis. Insulin resistant horses require low ESC + Starch, which should ideally be less than 10% on an as-fed basis, and less than 11% on a dry-matter basis. This also applies to horses suffering from PPID and PSSM.

 

Warm season grasses and alfalfa tend to be lower in ESC and higher in starch than cool-season grasses. Grain hays (such as oats, wheat, rye) can develop seed heads which are very high in starch.

WSC + Starch = NSC Water soluble carbohydrates mainly include ESC along with polysaccharides known as fructans which are fermented by the microbial population in the hindgut (cecum and large colon). Too much fructan fermentation reduces hindgut pH, leading to cecal acidosis, endotoxemia, and a cascade of events culminating in laminitis.[i]WSC + Starch equates to the non-structural carbohydrates (NSC) indicator. NSC that is considerably larger than ESC + Starch, indicates high fructans in the hay. Elevated fructans can be problematic for any horse, regardless of health. Cool-season grasses accumulate fructans, whereas warm-season grasses and alfalfa do not.

 

An NSC percentage less than 12% on an as-fed basis (13% on a dry matter basis), is a favorable target for the insulin resistant horse or one who is prone toward laminitis.

Ca:P Ratio Ideally, there should be twice as much calcium as phosphorus in the diet. Most grasses match this ratio. Alfalfa, however, has considerably more calcium. If you feed large amounts of alfalfa, choose supplements that are designed for alfalfa-based diets (they are low in calcium).
Ca:Mg Ratio Ideally, the calcium to magnesium ratio should be 2:1. Magnesium supplementation assists with muscle spasms, “sensitive” behavior, and insulin resistance.
Fe:Zn Ratio Most hays are high in iron so additional supplementation is not necessary. Too much iron exacerbates insulin resistance. Furthermore, iron competes with zinc for absorption. Therefore it should not be more than five times the level of zinc. Zinc deficiencies can lead to depressed immune function and poor wound healing.
Zn:Cu Ratio Excess zinc can interfere with copper absorption. Ideally, zinc should be between 3 and 5 times more than copper. Copper is required throughout the body, including healthy red blood cells, and melanin production in hair coat color.
Nitrates High nitrates can be toxic, interfering with red blood cell’s ability to transport oxygen. Test if your hay has been exposed to excessive fertilization or contains large amounts of weeds. Values should never be higher than 0.44%.

 

How to test your hay

Your goal is to obtain a representative sample, since hay bales can differ, especially if they contain mixtures of forages. Use a hay probe or pull clumps of hay from the inside of 15 to 20 bales. Mix together in a dry bucket. Then pull from the mixture enough to stuff a quart-size freezer bag. Equi-Analytical Labs is an excellent choice for your analysis[ii].

Establish a relationship with your hay producer

If you know the person who actually cuts the grass, discuss environmental factors that can significantly impact the NSC level:[iii]

  • NSC content is lowest before sunrise.
  • Cool nights (less than 40 degrees F (4 degrees C) will promote NSC storage and grass should not be cut the day following a cold night.
  • Grass that is shaded will have a lower NSC level.
  • NSC content increases during drought conditions.
  • Cuttings later in the season will be lower in NSC.
  • More mature grasses will be lower in calories, and more coarse due to a higher indigestible fiber content.
  • Grass that has gone to seed will be higher in starch.

Remember, forage 24/7 is the foundation for any horse

You can have the most expensive, most nutritious hay available, but it must be flowing, non-stop, through your horse’s digestive tract. There are many physiological and hormonal reasons for this; read more in the Getty Equine Nutrition Library[iv], as well as in Dr. Getty’s book, Equine Digestion – It’s Decidedly Different.[v]

About Dr. Getty
Juliet M. Getty, Ph.D. is an internationally respected, independent equine nutritionist who believes that optimizing horse health comes from understanding how the horse’s physiology and instincts determine the correct feeding and nutrition practices. She is available for private consultations and speaking engagements. Hear Dr. Getty address issues in horse nutrition at the Kirkland House Foundation in Delta, British Columbia, sponsored by “Hay…Girl!” on May 2, 2015. For more information, contact Pam Janssen at precioushaygirl@gmail.com or call 604-961-7265.

Dr. Getty’s comprehensive resource book, Feed Your Horse Like a Horse, is available at Dr. Getty’s website, www.gettyequinenutrition.com, as well as from Amazon (www.Amazon.com) and other online book retailers. The seven separate volumes in Dr. Getty’s topic-centered “Spotlight on Equine Nutrition” series are also available at her website (where Dr. Getty offers special package pricing) and from Amazon (in print and Kindle versions) and from other online retailers. Dr. Getty’s books make ideal gifts for horse-loving friends.

Dr. Getty’s website, www.gettyequinenutrition.com, offers a generous stock of free, useful information for the horseperson. Sign up for her free monthly newsletter, Forage for Thought; browse her library of reference articles; search her nutrition forum; and purchase recordings of her educational teleseminars. Reach Dr. Getty at gettyequinenutrition@gmail.com.

[i] Longland, A.C., and Byrd, B.M., 2006. Pasture nonstructural carbohydrates and equine laminitis. Journal of Nutrition 136: 2099S-2101S.

[ii] Equi-Analytical Labs www.equi-analytical.com, a division of Dairy-One, is a reputable laboratory that concentrates on analyses applicable to horses. Their Equi-Tech test (#601) is economical ($28) and comprehensive, offering an excellent amount of information.

[iii] Watts, K.A., 2004. Forage and pasture management for laminitic horses. Clinical Techniques in Equine Practice, 3(1), 88-95.

[iv] Click on “Library” at www.gettyequinenutrition.com

[v] One of seven volumes in the Spotlight on Equine Nutrition Series: http://gettyequinenutrition.biz/TeleSeminars/TeleseminarBooks/SpotlightonEquineNutritionTeleseminarSeries.htm

Dr. Getty Urges: “Don’t Let Your Horse Develop An Ulcer!”

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by Juliet M. Getty Ph.D. | Jan 22, 2015 |

Dr. Juliet Getty never stops urging horse owners to “feed your horse like a horse,” for the simple reason that a horse, fed according to his physiology and instincts, will be healthier. Dr. Getty often speaks about free choice forage feeding as the first line of defense against ulcers, but there is more an owner can do to protect his horse from the pain and stress of this condition.

“For many reasons,” says the Ph.D. equine nutrition expert, “a steady, constant supply of forage keeps your horse’s digestive system healthy, but it’s especially important in ulcer prevention.” Some basic anatomy knowledge reveals why: Unlike in the human, the horse’s stomach secretes acid all the time, even when empty. Chewing creates saliva, a natural antacid. If left without food, horses will chew on whatever they can, even their own manure, to neutralize the acid that is causing them physical pain and mental discomfort. And if left with absolutely nothing to chew on, the horse will commonly develop ulcers.

Horses in the wild do not get ulcers. The diet and lifestyle we impose on our horses are to blame for this disabling condition. The good news is encouraging, according to Dr. Getty, who reminds horse owners, “We have the ability to prevent ulcers through proper feeding and stress reduction.”

In addition to offering forage, free-choice, Dr. Getty suggests horse owners consider these protective feeding guidelines:
•Avoid oats and other cereal grains (corn, barley, wheat, rice, etc.). Starchy feeds can lead to ulcers by stimulating stomach cells to produce more acid and encouraging acid production through bacterial fermentation. In addition, grains move through the stomach quickly, leaving an empty stomach that is vulnerable to acid.
•Feed beet pulp instead of cereal grains. It has as many calories as oats without the propensity for acid production found with starch.
•If you feed extra fat, choose the right type.Vegetable oils, such as soybean and corn oils, are the most popular fat sources but they promote inflammation due to their high omega 6 content. Instead, choose vegetable sources that are high in omega 3s such as flax (meal or oil) or chia seeds, to actually reduce the inflammation experienced with ulcers.
•Provide high-quality protein.Legumes such as alfalfa, soybean meal, and split peas will complement the rest of the diet, offering enough amino acids (building blocks of protein) to allow for proper maintenance and healing. Plus, alfalfa hay should be offered to any horse who is prone toward developing an ulcer (such as during stall confinement) because it is an excellent buffer.
•Feed the hindgut microbial population. Fermentation products and yeast feed the microbes living in the hindgut (cecum and large colon). This makes digestion more efficient and promotes B vitamin synthesis to heal the digestive tract.
•Offer additional B vitamins.Stress (from pain or difficult situation) uses up B vitamins at a rapid rate. Offer a B-complex preparation that includes all 8 B-vitamins but that does not have added iron (there is plenty of iron in forage and supplementation is rarely needed).

You know what stresses your horse

An unfamiliar environment, loss of a buddy, stalling, training, travel, and performance can result in more acid production. Did you know that a horse that is moved into a stall after being used to pasture turnout is likely to develop a gastric ulcer in less than a week? Make adjustments to your horse’s lifestyle that would reduce stress. Even a horse that appears calm can have an ulcer.

The best way to avoid an ulcer is to allow your horse to be a horse

And the best way to do that is to give him pasture turnout – the more time the better. It not only gives him a steady supply of forage, but it lets him walk around, have a chance to run and buck, and visit with other horses. I realize that it is not always feasible to give your horse all the turnout he wants, but keeping hay in front of him at all times while confined will go a long way toward protecting his digestive system.

Juliet M. Getty, Ph.D. is an internationally respected, independent equine nutritionist who believes that optimizing horse health comes from understanding how the horse’s physiology and instincts determine the correct feeding and nutrition practices. She is available for private consultations and speaking engagements. Hear Dr. Getty address issues in horse nutrition at the Kirkland House Foundation in Delta, British Columbia, sponsored by “Hay…Girl!” on May 2, 2015. For more information, contact Pam Janssen at precioushaygirl@gmail.com or call 604-961-7265.

Dr. Getty’s comprehensive resource book, Feed Your Horse Like a Horse, is available at Dr. Getty’s website, www.GettyEquineNutrition.com, as well as from Amazon (www.Amazon.com) and other online book retailers. The seven separate volumes in Dr. Getty’s topic-centered “Spotlight on Equine Nutrition” series are also available at her website (where Dr. Getty offers special package pricing) and from Amazon (in print and Kindle versions) and from other online retailers. Dr. Getty’s books make ideal gifts for horse-loving friends.

Dr. Getty’s website, www.GettyEquineNutrition.com, offers a generous stock of free, useful information for the horseperson. Sign up for her free monthly newsletter, Forage for Thought; browse her library of reference articles; search her nutrition forum; and purchase recordings of her educational teleseminars. Reach Dr. Getty at gettyequinenutrition@gmail.com.

Hemp Seeds Rival Soybeans In Protein Quality

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by Juliet M. Getty Ph.D. | Jan 16, 2015 |

Soybean meal is the most commonly added protein source in horse feeds. However, increasing numbers of horse owners are shying away from feeding it, most commonly because of allergic reactions. Most soybeans grown in the U.S. have been genetically modified, which is a concern for many. Furthermore, it is difficult to ascertain from a feed label if the soy product has been heat-treated (necessary for inactivating trypsin inhibitor found in raw soybeans). Finally, soy contains significant levels of phytoestrogens, which may influence behavior, affect breeding, or interact with other hormones.

The good news about soybeans is their protein quality — it compares favorably to protein found in animal sources. But there are other good choices, the most promising of which is hemp seed.

Understanding protein quality

Proteins are long, complex chains of amino acids. Once protein is digested, the amino acids travel to tissues, where they are “reassembled” into proteins specific to that particular part of the body, assuming all of the building blocks (amino acids) are available. Your horse can synthesize some amino acids, but there are 10 that your horse cannot produce, or cannot produce in adequate quantity, and therefore, they must be in his diet (listed in Table 1). These are referred to as essential amino acids (EAAs).

Most feeds contain some protein, and therefore, some EAAs, but if any EAAs are present in low amounts, they limit the extent to which the others can be utilized, resulting in leftover amino acids. And, unfortunately, amino acids cannot be stored to be used later. Instead, they are dismantled by the liver, putting strain on the kidneys to remove urea, and contribute to excess calories and even glucose production.

Hemp seeds

A relatively new food to western cultures, hemp seeds have exceptional protein quality. Their two main proteins are albumin and edestin, both of which have significant amounts of all EAAs. The protein in hemp seeds is comparable to that in soybeans and, in many cases, exceeds the EAA content of the animal protein, whey (found in milk), as shown in Table 1.

Table 1: Essential Amino Acid (EAA) Comparison between Hemp seeds, Soybeans, and Whey (grams per 100g)1
EAA Hemp seeds Soybeans Whey
Methionine 0.58 0.53 0.23
Arginine 3.10 2.14 0.39
Threonine 0.88 1.35 1.02
Tryptophan 0.20 0.41 0.25
Histidine 0.71 0.76 0.29
Isoleucine 0.98 1.62 0.85
Leucine 1.72 2.58 1.40
Lysine 1.03 1.73 1.15
Valine 1.28 1.60 0.91
Phenylalanine 1.17 1.78 0.49

Hemp seeds rival soybeans as an ideal protein

What’s even more impressive, however, is the ratio of each EAA to the lysine level – a true measure of protein quality. With horses, quality is determined by comparing each EAA to lysine as it would exist in muscle2. Lysine is assigned a value of 100. The ideal values are shown in Table 2, which reveals how every EAA found in hemp seeds surpasses the ideal ratio beyond soybean’s ability.

Table 2: Ratios of EAAs to Lysine, Compared to Ideals3
EAA Hemp seeds Soybeans Ideal
Methionine 56 31 27
Arginine 301 124 76
Threonine 85 78 61
Tryptophan n/a n/a n/a
Histidine 69 44 58
Isoleucine 95 94 55
Leucine 167 149 107
Lysine 100 100 100
Valine 124 92 62
Phenylalanine 114 103 60

Hemp seeds are easy to find in stores that sell whole foods. Horses enjoy their palatable, nutty flavor. Adding ½ cup (providing 25 grams of protein) to your horse’s daily ration will boost the overall protein quality of his diet.

Hulled (shelled) hemp seeds can be expensive, however. A more economical option is to buy whole hempseeds and grind them yourself. To obtain the same level of protein, measure approximately twice the volume.

Bottom line

Domesticated horses cannot easily enjoy the variety of feedstuffs a natural setting provides. Even the healthiest grass pasture may not meet every nutrient requirement. Offering whole foods such as hemp seeds on a regular basis gives you another option for meeting your horse’s protein needs.

Juliet M. Getty, Ph.D. is an internationally respected, independent equine nutritionist who believes that optimizing horse health comes from understanding how the horse’s physiology and instincts determine the correct feeding and nutrition practices. She is available for private consultations and speaking engagements.

Dr. Getty’s comprehensive resource book, Feed Your Horse Like a Horse, is available at Dr. Getty’s website, www.GettyEquineNutrition.com, as well as from Amazon (www.Amazon.com) and other online book retailers. The seven separate volumes in Dr. Getty’s topic-centered “Spotlight on Equine Nutrition” series are also available at her website (where Dr. Getty offers special package pricing) and from Amazon (in print and Kindle versions) and from other online retailers. Dr. Getty’s books make ideal gifts for horse-loving friends.

Dr. Getty’s website, www.GettyEquineNutrition.com, offers a generous stock of free, useful information for the horseperson. Sign up for her free monthly newsletter, Forage for Thought; browse her library of reference articles; search her nutrition forum; and purchase recordings of her educational teleseminars. Reach Dr. Getty at gettyequinenutrition@gmail.com.
•Callaway, J.C. 2004. Hempseed as a nutritional resource: An overview. Euphytica, 140. Pages 65-72. Printed in the Netherlands.
1.National Research Council. 2007. Proteins and amino acids. Nutrient Requirements of Horses, Sixth Revised Edition. Washington, D.C.: The National Academies Press. Pages 64-65.
2.Hemp seed and soybean values were calculated by dividing each EAA level by its lysine level (1.03 for Hemp seeds; 1.73 for Soybeans; shown in Table 1)

Your Mare’s Pregnancy: Nutrition For The Final 3 Months

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by Juliet M. Getty Ph.D. | Dec 18, 2015 |

During the first 8 months of pregnancy, your mare may be fed like any other horse, with a balanced, quality diet. But things are changing rapidly during this last stage of pregnancy: She requires more calories, more protein, more omega 3’s, and balanced vitamins and minerals, not only for the unborn foal but also to prepare for milk production. Lactation places huge demands on the mare’s body; proper nutrition will ensure she completes her nursing duties in good health.

Grass hay or pasture should be provided ‘round the clock; she should never run out. If allowed to self-regulate her intake, she will likely consume 2.5 to 3.5 percent of her body weight as forage. Alfalfa hay should also be included to balance her protein needs. Alfalfa should never be fed exclusively (due to potential mineral imbalances). Strive for a 60:40 ratio of grass hay to alfalfa hay. The fetus gains 1 pound per day during these final three gestational months. Hay alone will not meet all the mare’s caloric needs. Furthermore, hay is missing many vitamins that would be found in living, fresh grass. A quality commercially-fortified feed designed for broodmares will meet her nutritional needs as long as it is fed according to recommended amounts. Or you can mix your own feed by offering beet pulp, hay pellets, ground flaxseeds or Chia seeds, and other whole foods, along with a comprehensive supplement that provides balanced levels of vitamins, and minerals such as copper, zinc, and manganese, as well as selenium and iodine.

These months are also critical to fetal development. Researchers from the University of Florida revealed that foals’ exposure to the omega 3 fatty acid, docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), in utero and early lactation can positively impact cognitive function and learning success. For more on this, read Dr. Getty’s Research Reflection, “Omega 3 Supplementation During Pregnancy Improves Learning Ability” or read it on Dr. Getty’s website under Research Reflections.

Attention to nutrition will help the mare maintain strength and health in this final stage of pregnancy as well as be ready for the significant demands of milk production and nursing.

Permission to reprint this article is granted, provided attribution is given to Juliet M. Getty, Ph.D. No editorial changes may be made without her permission. Dr. Getty appreciates being notified of any publication.

Juliet M. Getty, Ph.D. is an independent equine nutritionist with a wide U.S. and international following. Her research-based approach optimizes equine health by aligning physiology and instincts with correct feeding and nutrition practices.

Dr. Getty’s comprehensive resource book, Feed Your Horse Like a Horse, is available at www.GettyEquineNutrition.com — buy it there and have it inscribed by the author, or get it at Amazon (www.Amazon.com) or other online retail bookstores. The seven separate volumes in Dr. Getty’s topic-centered Spotlight on Equine Nutrition series are available with special package pricing at her website, and also at Amazon in print and Kindle versions. Dr. Getty’s books make ideal gifts—check her website for holiday specials.

Find a world of useful information for the horseperson at www.GettyEquineNutrition.com: Sign up for Dr. Getty’s informative, free e-newsletter, Forage for Thought; browse her library of reference articles; search her nutrition forum; and purchase recordings of her educational teleseminars. Reach Dr. Getty directly at gettyequinenutrition@gmail.com. She is available for private consultations and speaking engagements.

Added Fat Improves Behavior

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February 11, 2016
www.gettyequinenutrition.com

Added Fat Improves Behavior
by Juliet M. Getty, Ph.D.

Diet affects behavior. This makes sense. A well-fed horse is healthy. And a healthy horse feels good. Conversely, a poorly-nourished horse is suffering. A variation in hormone levels, for example, can have a temporary effect on how the horse sees the world. Just as reaction to sugar intake varies in humans, so it does in horses. Horses may feel ill or “off” from an overindulgence in sugar/starch, and they certainly have been reported to exhibit “sugar highs and lows” caused by the sudden surge and subsequent drop in blood glucose from a high carbohydrate (sugar/ starch) meal. Although there is, in fact, little scientific evidence that proves a sugar/starch-driven behavioral component, many horse owners will attest to their own horses showing adverse behavioral responses and will therefore avoid feeding anything that contains starchy cereal grains or is sweetened with molasses.

There are plenty of good reasons beyond the scope of this article to avoid high sugar/high starch diets, but in terms of behavior, what alternative does a horse owner have if the horse simply needs more calories to meet the added demands of exercise, work, and performing? Hay and grass simply cannot provide enough energy (calories) to support these additional requirements.

The answer is fat.

Gram for gram, fat provides more than double the calories of carbohydrates or protein. And it is well digested. But there’s an added bonus! Fat has a calming effect on horses’ behavior.

Researchers at Virginia Polytechnic Institute noticed that horses fed a high fat diet are less reactive to startling stimuli and had lower levels of excitability and anxiety than horses fed a more traditional grain-based diet. The horses in their experiment received 15% of the total calories from fat, which is high for most horses. However, the study reveals that fat is worth trying if you have a sensitive horse who may become easily excited by everyday activities. (Please note: Ponies, minis, donkeys, and mules should not receive high fat diets.)

What type of fat?

All fat has the same number of calories, regardless of the source. But from a health perspective, it is best to steer clear of animal fats, as well as oils that are have too many omega 6’s (which increase inflammation) in relation to omega 3’s (which have an anti-inflammatory effect). Oils high in monounsaturated fatty acids are a good source since they neither increase nor decrease inflammation.

Below are some commonly fed fat sources:
• Ground flax seeds and flax seed oil: Has a 4:1 ratio of omega 3’s to omega 6’s, making it an ideal choice
• Chia seeds: Has similar omega 3 to omega 6 ratio as flax
• Canola oil: 10% omega 3’s and relatively low in omega 6’s. Also contains monounsaturated fatty acids (no harmful impact on inflammation)
• Rice bran oil: Only 1% omega 3’s, less than 50% omega 6’s and high in monounsaturated fatty acids
• Copra meal and coconut oil: Not a source of omega 3’s and omega 6’s but rather medium chain fatty acids which may be beneficial when added to an omega 3 source
• Soy lecithin: Only 4% omega 3’s but also contains choline, a helpful component of neurotransmitters
• Soybean oil: Only 7% omega 3’s and mostly omega 6’s (less desirable choice)
• Corn oil: No omega 3’s and higher in omega 6’s than soybean oil (poorest choice)

How much?

I prefer to limit fat intake to no more than 10% of the total calories, though some athletes are fed levels as high as 20%. For the lightly exercised, mature 1100 lb (500 kg) horse, the National Research Council recommends a minimum total diet of 20 Mcals per day to maintain body condition. Ten percent would be 2 Mcals per day from fat. One cup (8 fluid ounces or 240 ml) of oil will meet this requirement. It weighs 240 grams and at 9 kcals/g, provides 2.16 Mcals.

How to add?

When adding any amount of oil to your horse’s feed, start with a small amount (say, one tablespoon or 15 ml). Most horses do not like oily feed, but more important, it takes several weeks for the horse’s cells to become accustomed to metabolizing more fat.

Summary

Short attention span, spookiness, reluctance to work, excessive sensitivity and alertness to surroundings, irritability, and “hot” behaviors can be reduced by adding fat to the diet. Fat is high in calories, so limit the amount you feed based on the horse’s weight and his caloric need. Omega 3’s need to be in balance with omega 6’s, so choose oils carefully. And finally, build up to desired intake by starting slowly and increasing over 4 to 6 weeks.

Permission to reprint this article is granted, provided attribution is given to Juliet M. Getty, Ph.D. No editorial changes may be made without her permission. Dr. Getty appreciates being notified of any publication.

Juliet M. Getty, Ph.D. is an independent equine nutritionist with a wide U.S. and international following. Her research-based approach optimizes equine health by aligning physiology and instincts with correct feeding and nutrition practices.

Dr. Getty’s comprehensive resource book, Feed Your Horse Like a Horse, is available at www.GettyEquineNutrition.com — buy it there and have it inscribed by the author, or get it at Amazon (www.Amazon.com) or other online retail bookstores. The seven separate volumes in Dr. Getty’s topic-centered Spotlight on Equine Nutrition series are available with special package pricing at her website, and also at Amazon in print and Kindle versions. Dr. Getty’s books make ideal gifts for equestrians.

Find a world of useful information for the horseperson at www.GettyEquineNutrition.com: Sign up for Dr. Getty’s informative, free e-newsletter, Forage for Thought; browse her library of reference articles; search her nutrition forum; and purchase recordings of her educational teleseminars. Reach Dr. Getty directly at gettyequinenutrition@gmail.com. She is available for private consultations and speaking engagements.

1Source: Holland, J.L., Kronsfeld, D.S., and Meacham, T.N. 1996. Behavior of horses is affected by soy lecithin and corn oil in the diet. J. Animal Sci., 74 (6), 1252-1255.

2Find more dietary approaches for improving horse behavior in “Feeding and Behavior,” found under Teleseminars at www.gettyequinenutrition.com.

3“Ponies, minis, donkeys and mules metabolize fat more economically than horses and are prone toward weight gain and the insulin resistance that results from obesity. Therefore, it is best to avoid adding large amounts of fat to their diets.” This and more information on special feeding for these types of equids can be found in Feed Your Horse Like A Horse by Juliet M. Getty, Ph.D., available at www.gettyequinenutrition.com and Amazon.com.

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