Rebalancing Digestion in the Horse

Digestive health in the horse is extremely important and is tightly connected with almost every medical and lameness condition that you can imagine.  The importance of proper digestion goes way beyond the typical association with gastric ulcers, colic, diarrhea, or irritable bowel conditions in the horse.  In many cases, if digestion is addressed properly, not only do the horses improve but their long-term health and soundness is greatly enhanced.  In the first article, I discussed the concept of dampness and digestion in the horse, determining if this problem was present, and steps to intervene for best results. In this second part, I’d like to take a look at specific herbs and foods which can create benefit or potentially more harm, depending upon how they are applied in the horse. (more…)

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Ama, Dampness, and Equine Digestive Health

Digestive health in the horse is a growing concern over the past couple of decades, being readily evident in the high usage of ulcer medications, ulcer supplements, high rates of colic, allergies, skin issues, and metabolic problems.  Depending upon how you look at the problem and what you ‘see’ as the main issue of concern, this dictates your approach, which then creates the result, be it positive or negative. Digestive health is not that complicated in the horse, but creating better results does require taking a different perspective and a certain level of understanding.  Let’s dive into the concepts of dampness and ama from an alternative medicine perspective on digestive health in the horse. (more…)

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Adaptogens and the Horse; How and Why?

Stress, anxiety, and even depression dramatically impact the horse mentally and physically.  This is especially true of the competitive equine athlete, but is also true for those horses stalled a lot or recovering from an illness or injury.  Stress is a physical response in the horse, often created by the mind within their head, responding to different circumstances, physical pain, or lifestyle factors.  Overcoming this stress response can lead to a healthier animal, faster recovery times from illness or injury, and improved performance.  Adaptogens are one key player in this recovery for the horse, but knowing how they work and when to use them can be the difference between success and failure. (more…)

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Adaptogens; Rebuilding and Calming the Horse

Adaptogens are powerful in their ability to impact the health of the horse, and the term ‘adaptogen’ has become rather familiar for many owners.  In today’s horse world, anxiety runs very deep, contributing heavily to ulcers, irritable bowel conditions, performance issues, a lack of focus, and many other problems.  For many owners, they are seeking that one solution, that one fix, that will remedy all of their horse’s problems, and while this is possible in a few cases, for most the solution comes with a better understanding.  As with all things, if you’d like to properly implement something and gain results, it is best served to take the time to better comprehend the problem and possible solutions. (more…)

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Blueberry, Strawberry, Raspberry and the Metabolic Horse

Metabolic syndrome and obesity is an epidemic in the equine world.  The fact is that you are in control of your horse’s health, believe it or not, and the foods you choose to feed them can either assist in their vitality and health, or work against it, contributing to more disease and pain.  The blueberry is one of many fruits, including the strawberry and raspberry, that pack a powerful punch when it comes to health.  The little purple and red gems are packed full of vital nutrients and phytochemicals that can truly alter well-being and health.  The blueberry is just one of many fruits that possess these research supported powers, impacting overall health, sugar metabolism, mental well being, and even digestive health.  These benefits can impact the metabolic horse on many levels.  Many will claim that horse’s do not normally eat these fruits, which is true, but does that mean we don’t take advantage of them? (more…)

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Creating Real Change in the Metabolic Horse

The easy-keeper and metabolic horse pose many challenges to horse owners, farriers, and veterinarians in many facets of equine health and soundness.  For some owners, they are contending with weight issues, insulin resistance, laminitis, and other health concerns in their horse.  For many others, these primary issues are not the problem, but more so it is allergies, ongoing colic concerns, irritable bowel issues, hindgut acidosis, and non-healing injuries or foot problems.  While this second group doesn’t realize it, all of those issues stem from underlying weight issues, metabolic concerns, and often poor digestive health balance.  Let’s look at some new options to assist these horses. (more…)

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No Grain For My Horse? Part Two

What?  No grain for my horse??  That article was truth, speaking from my clinical and research experience in working with rehabilitation horses as a veterinarian.  While the article was very popular, it sparked many comments and questions.  How do you manage the harder keeper?  How do you manage the easy keeper??  How to you manage the performance and race horse??  How can you possibly create benefits in these horse scenarios when we have come to rely so heavily upon grain? What about NSC recommendations?  Am I just nuts, as a veterinarian?? (more…)

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Scratches, Rain Rot, Dermatitis and Skin Allergies in the Horse

Scratches, rain rot, and skin allergies in the horse…oh my!  Skin problems in the horse are very, very common and at the top of complaints for many horse owners.  For most, they are easily resolved with a little attention, while for others, the skin problems fester and turn into real concerns.  Why are these problems so common in the horse and why are some so difficult to manage, no matter what you do? (more…)

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What? No Grain for My Horse?

When you think of a horse, you almost instantly think of grain.  The two are intertwined and deeply related in our thought patterns, having for decades seen horses fed grain of some sorts.  It has become the status quo, a set tradition for most horse owners, and they are marketed to by all sorts of feed companies, telling you why you should feed their grain.  Given this, and the peer pressure from the standards of others, you simply feed a grain to your horse, often with no thought at all.  But, why do you feed that grain?  Does your horse really need it?  Or could it be creating problems or even resistance to true healing in health and soundness for your horse? (more…)

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Ketones; Going Beyond the Average Metabolic Horse

Ketosis, the ketogenic diet, and exogenous ketones have become quite popular terms in human research and medicine, with significant impacts on health.  However, one has to raise the question as to how these ketones are working, how they are benefiting health, and can they be of use in the horse? Well, despite many ‘critics’ giving their input and little research available, I’ll give you my clinical thoughts when it comes to horses, and not just perceived metabolic horses. (more…)

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