I thought it appropriate to post this as the temperature has now dropped... so it should! Winter is here.
Winter can be a bit of a danger time for colic - specifically impaction colic due to some dehydration in horses. The reason being is that when the weather turns cold horses are likely to drink less.
Salt can help us to combat this problem. Salt helps to reduce muscle cramping in all animals. We seem to be a bit afraid of it as far as health warnings to do with high blood pressure etc. But we are not horses. Horses for one, spend most of their lives moving around!
Horses need about 5-10 grams of salt per 100 kilograms per day in order for their muscles to function properly. That is equivalent to 1-2 teaspoons of salt per every 100 kilograms everyday. Now it is hard to answer the question of how much salt should be added to their daily feeds as people feed different pre-mixed feeds and pellets containing varying amounts of salt. My hard feed for my horses is extremely basic. It includes oaten chaff, lucerne chaff (not always as it is high in sugars), speedibeet and if I want more energy or warmth then I add soaked barley. Plus - SALT!
The amount of salt I add varies too. They have access to a good quality mineral lick that suffices for their salt intake most of the time. When they are in work they are given 2 tablespoons of Magnesium Sulphate (Epsom Salt) and 2 tablespoons of Coarse salt per day. When they are not in work they have access to their mineral block which is usually quite sufficient. When the weather turns cold (like it just has) I also add salt, regardless of how much work they are receiving... because I want to make sure they keep up their water intake. I also make my feed quite wet (not sloppy) so they are gaining moisture into their systems at the time of feeding.
My aim is not to scare people but to make sure they are aware that their horses do require salt in their diet and to make sure they are getting enough water in their diets to prevent nasty impaction colic type situations.
Similarly, we also need to be mindful of heatstroke in horses through the winter. Just because we are cold doesn't necessarily mean that our horses are... they have a fur coat and a better system of maintaining homeostasis than we do.
There is a lot of information kicking around the internet at the moment relating to stomach ulcers in horses. It is not a matter of if a horse has ulcers - it is more likely that sometime in your horses life they will suffer from them.
A horse cannot get rid of ulcers on their own especially in the conditions that we keep them in. They do not have the luxury of roaming large distances and choosing which type of food they eat. We keep them in controlled environments. If they are on pasture it consists of only a small range of grasses and sometimes no access to trees or roots or even quality soil to chomp on when they feel something lacking in their diet. These are the behaviors of wild horses that know what to eat for medicine or de-worming etc. If they are hard fed it will usually consist of some hay - and regardless of the type of hay you feed, the nutrients that can be found in this ...continue reading →
A program for your horse's overall health
I am often asked by my client's what is a good program to put their horse's on for their entire health. For the most part this can be a tricky question to answer but I will put my thoughts out there for you all. You do not always have to agree with me and I would love to hear your individual thoughts on the matter:
Most horse owner's know that they must have a worming program, feet program and teeth program but it will vary for each individual horse and their own needs, the same as it does for humans.
As people we are reminded by our dentist to visit every 6 or 12 months, but if you wear braces that might be more like a 6 - 8 week cycle! We are told to brush our teeth each day morning and night and again this is a variable factor for each individual! As a human we know when we Continue reading →
Many horse owner's include lucerne either in the form of hay or chaff in their horse's everyday diets. The reason they feed it is usually because the horse likes it and it is what they have been taught is a good feedstuff for horses. It provides good roughage and bulk for their horse's and also smells nice and sweet. That is because it is sweet! It is loaded with sugars and great to help provide your horse with extra warmth and energy. Lucerne is also high in protein and calcium. It is useful to feed it at a competition where your horse is using a lot of energy and needs the extra usable fuel. Examples of this would be at endurance rides, polocrosse or any other high energy burning horse sport. It is also useful to help growing youngsters that need to put extra fuel into correct growth. Does this make lucerne a suitable every day feed?...continue reading →