In theory, turning a horse out isn't rocket science: Bring horse to pasture, remove halter and lead rope, close gate behind you. But if you're turning an easy keeper out in a big grassy field that happens to be the only pasture you have access to, turnout can be much more complicated—and hazardous to the horse's health. In situations lik...
Young horses are considered weanlings from the time they're separated from their mothers until one year of age. This is a critical time in the young horse's life, and nutrition plays an important part. Here are five important points to consider when feeding a weanling:
Proper foal nutrition is critical for adequate growth and development. A foal’s main source of nutrients is his dam’s milk, but in some cases this alone won't meet his high nutritional demands. What should you do?
Does your performance horse need to pack on a few more pounds? Here are some tips to consider when managing a hard-keeping equine athlete.
Horse owners sometimes find it necessary to change their horse’s feeding program--fluctuations in temperature, season, and performance level are just some of the reasons. But with the known link between diet changes and health conditions such as colic or laminitis, how can owners safely transition their horse’s feed without negatively affectin...
Does your otherwise healthy horse have trouble keeping pounds on? Here are some tips to consider when feeding the mature, healthy hard keeper.
There are many theories on how to best manage performance horses during periods with no forced exercise (whether after sustaining an injury or just for a rest period), and owners are often left with a dilemma: stall rest or pasture turnout? To find the answer, a team of researchers recently completed a study evaluating how well horses maintain a certain f...
Young horses require specific levels of amino acids, vitamins, and minerals for proper development, and researchers know that zinc, in particular, is vital for growing horses' enzyme and immune function. However, there's been little research done in horses evaluating the relationship between zinc and the equine immune system. So researchers from A...
Equine insulin resistance—a condition in which cells fail to respond normally to the hormone insulin—requires careful dietary management to prevent laminitis and other complications from developing. So it's no surprise that both veterinarians and horse owners are on the lookout for new ways to help manage this disorder.
Many a horse or pony owner has restricted their overweight equid's turnout time in an effort to help him shed pounds. And while researchers know weight loss helps improve horses' overall health, until now they haven't known exactly what impact restricted grazing has on the equine gastrointestinal health or calorie intake. A group of North Caro...
Many horse owners have their hay-buying ritual down to a science. But from time to time, owners might find themselves rethinking their ritual, possibly due to drought, floods, or other factors that limit the forage supply in their area.
Equine researchers have evaluated common horse feeds' digestibility (the percentage of the digestion and absorption of various nutrients present in a feed source) primarily in mature horses, but little is known about the digestive capacity of young, growing horses.
Tall fescue is a common grass species that makes up more than 40 million acres of pasture in the United States. This grass is commonly infected with a fungus capable of producing the ergot alkaloid ergovaline, an agent responsible for late abortion, prolonged gestation, dystocia (difficult birth), and agalactia (poor milk let-down) in broodmares, reduced ...
Providing a diet low in nonstructural carbohydrates (NSC), such as sugars and starch, is key to maintaining horses diagnosed with diseases such as laminitis, hyperkalemic periodic paralysis (HYPP), and polysaccharide storage myopathy (PSSM). Soaking hay not only helps reduce dust, but also NSC, making it a popular option for maintaining horses with these ...
Outside of the breeding season, most stallions are fed according to their maintenance requirements or slightly above that amount. However, as breeding season approaches, stallion owners might consider a few key points about their studs' nutritional needs.
Feed digestion in horses is largely accomplished by microbial fermentation in the hindgut. The cecum and colon provide an environment that promotes the digestion and absorption of nutrients from fibrous products such as hay and beet pulp. Disrupting the microbe balance, due to mismanaged feeding practices or illness, can have detrimental effects on the ho...
As temperatures drop, horse owners should begin to make changes in their horse's feeding program in preparation for winter. But what alterations are needed? Here are some points to consider when preparing to adjust a nutrition program for the colder weather.
The majority of the equine diet should be based on forage, which serves as a source of fiber and nutrients. However, some horses might not readily consume all types of hay. To that end, a team of California State University researchers set out to compare four hay types to determine which horses are most inclined to consume.
Horse owners utilize many management practices to limit calorie intake for obese horses, including restricting pasture access via a grazing muzzle. However, research has shown that horses often increase pasture intake when returned to an unrestricted situation. Drastic changes in grain intake are known to cause digestive upsets, particularly in the hindgu...
A team of researchers in New Zealand recently set out to determine how dietary changes--from pasture to harvest forage and concentrates--affected fecal pH and certain bacterial populations of the hindgut.
Starch is a highly digestible energy form and can provide energy needed for exercise, growth, metabolism, and other equine life functions. However, when fed improperly, this nonstructural carbohydrate can be detrimental to your horse's health.
The micromineral selenium plays a vital role in equine immune function, especially in the mare and foal. Selenium transfer through the placenta and milk has been shown to influence neonatal selenium status in livestock, but it remains unknown if the selenium source affected transmission from mare to foal.
Much of the country is experiencing drier than normal conditions this summer, so some horses living on pasture might soon have limited forage choices. With decreased forage growth also comes a decrease in hay production. Therefore, owners might want to familiarize themselves with alternative fiber sources that could be used to supplement their horses'...
Some horse owners in drought-affected states have been searching high and low for affordable forage for their horses. To that end, one research team recently completed a study evaluating an alternative type of grass hay that could be a viable option for some equids: teff hay.
Much of the country is experiencing drier than normal conditions this summer and, thus, some horses living on pasture might soon have limited forage choices. Owners must take care to ensure pastures do not contain certain plant and weed species capable of producing toxins during stress conditions such as drought.
Water is one of the essential nutrients a horse needs to perform a number of life-support functions, including digestion and thermoregulation. Especially with the hot summer weather prevalent in much of the country, it's important to ensure horses have access to water at all times.
As research has advanced our understanding of equine nutrition, we now know more about how best to meet our horse's nutritional needs. One feed option that owners may notice on the shelves of their local feed store is a ration balancer. This pelleted feed option might have a place in your horse's diet, so let's explain how it is used.
Off-the-track Thoroughbreds (OTTBs) are popular mounts for riders of many disciplines. But when feeding an OTTB, it's important to understand how he was fed during his time on the track, and how his nutritional needs differ once he begins his new life.
Exertional rhabdomyolysis, otherwise known as "tying up," is a term used to describe a variety of muscle disorders in the equine athlete. Horses affected by tying up have varying degrees of muscle cramping or muscle soreness, with the more severe cases accompanied by elevated respiratory and heart rates, dark colored urine, and reluctance to mov...
For most horses, hay is a primary source of nutrients and essential fiber for hindgut health. Performing a hay analysis can help you balance the rest of your horse's diet and potentially reduce feed costs. These test results can provide a copious amount of information, but here are some important aspects to understand:
Every bag of horse feed includes a feed tag. The information it contains allows horse owners and managers to choose a feed with the proper nutrition at the best price for their individual horse. But with so much information on such a small tag, it can be easy to get overwhelmed. Here are four key things to look at on a feed tag and understand about the fe...
Protein is arguably the most misunderstood essential nutrient in the equine diet. Protein is made up of amino acids, and its main function is in muscle, tendon, and ligament development and repair. But, how do protein needs change in the equine athlete? Here are three key points to remember about protein's role in fueling the sport horse.
As the seasons transition from winter to spring, it's time to start thinking about horses' nutritional needs, as well as changes in the forage available to horses grazing on pasture. The spring also brings an increased risk for several health conditions, including laminitis and insulin resistance, in all horses on pasture. Here are some tips for t...
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