Digestive support is one of the key and most critical aspects to aiding a horse with almost any condition. The main problem can be obvious, such as gas, loose stools, colitis, or a colic history.  However, in many horses, the gut is a silent player in the ongoing inflammatory problems contributing to joint issues, back problems, irritability, poor performance, tendon issues and yes, hoof problems.  As owners, we spend a small fortune on nutritional supplements, but forget that in order to utilize those nutrients, your horse’s gut or digestive tract must be working properly.  Here are two key Cur-OST® formulas that I utilize in patients and in our own rehabilitation facility to help those horses achieve their highest level of success in health and soundness.

To start with, almost every horse has some level of digestive disturbance based on my experience and research.  It is just a question of to what degree it is playing a role.  It could be a primary problem or it could be secondary.  Either way, you are better served to manage it first, then assess the impact on your horse, rather than continuously spending money on nutritional supplements that don’t appear to be working.  I am not against nutrition, and am actually very in favor of high quality nutrition, but all too often I see owners continuing to feed various supplements, but yet making very little gains.  Address the gut first and foremost in your horse, and then conquer the mountain of nutrition!

At Nouvelle Research, Inc., we have two distinct ‘gut’ or digestive support formulas that we utilize and recommend, however, whether to choose one or the other can be problematic at times.  Here is my personal approach with each horse and how I choose accordingly.

Evaluating the Horse’s Feces and History

The first step for me is to determine not if gut health is a problem, but to what degree.  I almost always assume it is a player in the game for that horse, but now it is a question of to what extent.  Is there an obvious problem in the horse, such as colitis, gas, loose stools, mucus accumulation on the feces, a colic history or incidence of ulcers?  Also, I will look at the feces and determine the color, moisture content, and yes…the odor or smell.  Normal feces, respectively, are formed fecal balls that break apart easily, but don’t crumble.  They are green in color or green-brown and have some roughage fibers present when the fecal balls are broken open, but not huge strands of undigested forage or grains.  If I put a fecal ball into my gloved hand and squeeze, there should be moderate moisture exuding like a moist sponge, but not excessive.  Also, there is generally little odor to the normal equine feces and if there is a foul odor or even a sweet smell, it is a sign there is a problem.

If the horse is present in our facility or I am working on them at a distance, I will often recommend having a fecal culture performed, just to get an idea or indication regarding lactic acid bacterial buildup or over-growth.  This can be a real problem for some and even obvious when we evaluate their history and feces, but for others, it can be a silent problem.  I, personally, like to get a culture done to have a baseline level for my patients and work from there.  Is it an absolute must have?  No, but it is nice to have a baseline level for monitoring purposes.

Now, depending on how extensively the gut is involved in each case, and also dependent on the fecal culture results and visible problems with the feces themselves, I will choose a path for support and supplementation.

Cur-OST® EQ Tri-GUT and Horse Digestive Health

Cur-OST EQ Tri-GUT and Horse Digestive Health

If the horse has a clear history of digestive issues, despite maybe not being the primary problem, or has a positive culture with high levels of lactic acid bacterial overgrowth, I will generally opt for a minimum of a 30-day course of the Cur-OST® EQ Tri-GUT.

The Cur-OST EQ Tri-GUT contains a blend of 4 herbs and 1 active Saccharomyces cerevisiae yeast extract.  The herbs utilized include Terminalia chebula, Terminalia bellerica, Phyllanthus emblica, and Humulus lupulus.  

These four herbs offer multiple benefits to the equine digestive tract including:

  • Direct impact (antimicrobial effect) on excessive overgrowth of harmful bacteria
  • Antioxidant support via polyphenols, concentrated tannins, and other phytochemicals to reduce harmful free radical damage to the body and digestive tract
  • Promote a healthy inflammatory response in the digestive tract, and the entire body, which aids in healing of the mucosal surface and supports tight cell junction health (leaky gut)
  • Prebiotic-type of effect due to naturally occurring fiber

The inclusion of the patented Saccharomyces cerevisiae yeast extract (SC20®) serves as a probiotic, helping to further stabilize the overall digestive microbiome in the horse, along with improving feed efficiency, and reducing the impact of stress upon digestion.

Cur-OST EQ® Pro-GUT and Horse Digestive Health

Cur-OST EQ Pro-GUT an Horse Digestive Health

If I have a horse that has evident digestive involvement, but not overtly apparent, then I will opt for a trial run of the EQ Pro-GUT.  These are the horses that seem to be fine in the gut department with no loose stools, gas, colic or colitis, but do have obvious issues with nutrient absorption which is noted in body condition, hoof health or otherwise.  I will also use the Cur-OST® EQ Pro-GUT as a maintenance formula after a 30 or 60-day course of the Cur-OST® EQ Tri-GUT formula.  I will use the EQ Pro-GUT as a long-term digestive support product in almost all of our cases, which benefits them not only in digestion, but reduces the impact of stress on the gut, and improves feed efficiency.

The Cur-OST® EQ Pro-GUT has 3 main ingredients with no fillers or flavors added, which include an inactive, patented Saccharomyces cerevisiae (Agrimos) which has enhanced levels of Mannan-oligosaccharides (MOS) and beta-glucans as part of the yeast cell wall.  The second ingredient is an active Saccharomyces cerevisiae (SC20) which serves as a primary probiotic, as noted in the EQ Tri-GUT formula.  The final ingredient is fiber, taken directly from the Turmeric root, which serves as a prebiotic and supports overall digestive health and microbiome balance.

Benefits of the Cur-OST® EQ Pro-GUT include:

  • Potent prebiotic support via the Agrimos® yeast extract and Turmeric root fiber, helping to support proper microbial balance in the digestive tract of the horse.
  • Improved feed efficiency and body weight gains due to enhanced digestion effect
  • Probiotic support to aid in balancing the microbiome of the digestive tract
  • Helps to support hindgut pH and minimizes fluctuations to aid in overall health
  • May reduce incidence of gram-negative bacteria ‘kill-off’ which may reduce levels of endotoxin present
  • May reduce the levels of potentially harmful mycotoxins present

The ability of the Cur-OST® EQ Pro-GUT to reduce harmful levels of lactic acid bacteria in the digestive tract of the horse has not been evaluated in our laboratory.  Thus, I will opt to use the Cur-OST EQ Tri-GUT initially for 1-2 months in the more critical situations, and then move to the Cur-OST EQ Pro-GUT for long-term support in almost every patient.

In my clinical opinion, digestive or gut problems are rampant in the equine industry, impacting almost every horse on some level.  It is far easier to prevent these problems than it is to manage them clinically. Thus, gut support is high on my list for almost every horse that I personally assist.

Cur-OST® has a solution for your horse!  Check out the options and let us know if you have questions!

 

Further reading:

  1. Overweight Horse and Digestive Health
  2. Equine Fecal Cultures and Cur-OST EQ Tri-GUT
  3. Incredible Findings in Equine Gut Health Research
  4. The Equine Gut and Connections with Health and Lameness
  5. How Important is Gut Health in My Horse?

 

Author:  Tom Schell, D.V.M., CVCH, CHN

 

 

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