The most common causes of gastric (stomach) ulcers are lack of forage and stress. Gastric ulcers can develop in as little as 24 hours - and recur in 24 hours respectively. Given the short period of time for recurrence, administering medication (Omeprazole, Ranitidine or Cimetidine) without addressing the cause(s) can be counterproductive. If your horse does not have ulcers, this article may bring to light stress factors you may not be aware of.
What inspired me to write this article? Speaking to countless customers whose beloved companions have ulcers - yet who were unaware of how the horse’s current lifestyle and/or feeding schedules were adding to the stress factors that may have caused the ulcers.
Read on to learn about important lifestyle and feeding practices that can minimize the chance of occurrence and/or recurrence of ulcers. Causes are truly multi dimensional - encompassing both mental and physical factors.
By Monique Warren
Last Updated December 30, 2019. Originally published June 15, 2016.
Slow feeding requires the horse to eat smaller amounts over a longer period of time. This concept simulates natural free-choice foraging - and provides a host of benefits you might not be aware of.
Breakfast, lunch, and dinner are meals consumed by humans but are not natural for a horse. Equines are grazing herbivores with a digestive system designed for - and benefiting from - constant uptake.
If your equine does not have forage available 24/7 - and is fed traditional "meals" - consider implementing a slow-feeding program to keep them nibbling longer. Read on to learn about slow feeder options and the nine ways your horse can benefit from a slow-feed program.
Let’s face it, in a 24-hour period most of our beloved equines get only one to four hours of mental and/or physical engagement with a human. What they do for the remaining 20-23 hours a day is up to them to figure out (if not provided with opportunities to engage their natural instincts) – and so the boredom and vices set in.
Luckily, we've rounded up 11 tips and toys to help beat the boredom blues and provide natural enrichment for horses during their down time - whether they are on stall rest or in a pasture, pen, or paddock.
Fecal egg counts derived from fecal flotation tests - are a common method for determining parasite levels in horses, which can then influence how often a particular horse is wormed and what class of wormer to administer. As helpful as this information is - it unfortunately doesn't tell us the whole story. Fecal tests will not identify Pin Worms, Bots or Neck Threadworms. These parasites either do not reside in and/or lay eggs in the digestive tract making it impossible to detect their presence from a fecal sample.
Adult Tapeworms and Ascarids, despite residing in the digestive tract, can go undetected if adult worms present are not actively shedding eggs at that point in their reproductive cycle. In addition, a fecal egg count cannot reveal evidence of an existing population of Encysted Small Strongyles or Ascarid and Large Strongyle migrating larvae or immature adults within the horse.
Read on to learn about some common equine parasites not revealed by fecal tests, including where they reside and/or reproduce, their life cycle, and why a fecal flotation test is not a be-all end-all detector of potential parasite burdens.
Fly spray is intended to “protect” your horse from flies, but does it pose health risks? Depending on the ingredients, it can be harmful to you and your horse with potential long term adverse side effects. Unsafe ingredients have the potential to enter the bloodstream via skin absorption and/or inhalation. Natural ingredients are not necessarily safe either!
Read on to learn more about how fly spray enters the bloodstream, three common ingredients that may not be safe and some suggested - and safer - options.
Gastric ulcers are erosions of the stomach lining caused by gastric acid. It is estimated that 50 to 90 percent of domestic horses have ulcers. They can develop in as little as 24 hours and recur in 24 hours respectively. The pain is stressful, which can further exacerbate ulcers. The most common causes of gastric ulcers are lack of forage and stress. Thankfully, as owners, we have some control over both causes.
Read on to learn how and why gastric acid causes ulcers - and what you can do to help prevent ulcers from occurring.
My quest to offer slow fed free choice forage began in 2008 because I had an insulin-resistant mare, Lily, that I was determined to keep happy and healthy. While researching and learning the importance of slow feeding, and eating from ground level, I could not find a slow feeder to purchase that was 1) safe, and 2) slowed down my horse’s consumption rate enough. In addition, ease of “loading” and the weight of the feeder became key challenges. And so began my 4 year experimental journey of creating a slow feeder that met my needs.
During that time I bought, designed, built and prototyped a variety of slow feeders and slow feed hay bags for my and Lily's use. Following are the pros and cons I discovered while experimenting with my own version of each slow feeder type: hard-sided, webbing mesh, and netting.
Are your activities scheduled around - and limited by - your feeding schedule? Are you feeding multiple times throughout the day and night? If so, consider yourself a prisoner of feeding (POF)!
Is there a way to free yourself? Absolutely! You will be happier and your herd will love you for it. More relaxed herd = more relaxed guardians and vice versa.
For most of us, we become a POF because we don't want our beloved equines to be overweight or without forage for an extended period of time. And so the multiple feedings begin! I too was a POF: getting up early to feed in the morning, making sure I was home to feed lunch, and feeding late in the evening hours (horses only sleep 3-4 hours throughout a 24 hour period).
Miniature horses and donkeys - also known as minis - are some of the cutest creatures you will ever see. But don't let that special stature fool you - whether your mini is for showing, therapy, or a pasture ornament and best friend - they are essentially a scaled-down version of their full-sized counterparts.
And when it comes to nutritional needs and feeding protocols - that means a slow fed, forage-based diet is key. Read on to learn more about why a slow feed strategy is best for your mini and to find answers to common miniature horse diet questions.
Hay is a whole food, right? It is if naturally cured prior to baling - otherwise it contains preservatives, which may have adverse effects on you and your horse’s health.
The moisture content of hay is monitored prior to baling. With too little moisture, hay becomes brittle, loses nutritional value, and can potentially become unpalatable. Too much moisture can cause hay to mold and experience thermal expansion in storage severe enough to cause combustion creating a severe fire hazard.
Is a horse mentally comfortable in a cozy stall with shavings or a shelter with sides? Probably not.
Horses are prey animals; their main form of defense is flight which requires sight and sound to detect predators in conjunction with other herd members standing guard and alerting each other. A horse may experience psychological tension if by themselves and/or sight and sound are impaired.
Read on to learn more about why a horse's mental comfort often times takes priority over perceived physical comfort!
Chewing on objects is typically self-medication for the horse. Chewing, or self-medicating, is most likely due to discomfort - stemming from physical and/or mental stress from lack of forage.
Chewing activates saliva production, which buffers gastric acid. The stomach produces acid 24/7 to prepare for constant uptake of food. The stomach begins to empty in 20 minutes to 2 hours or when 2/3's full - depending on the type of feed and rate of consumption. Once feed stuff travels to the small intestine, the stomach continues to produce acid with or without food present. Chewing effectively buffers gastric acid - and can give some relief even without food.
Colic is responsible for more deaths in horses than any disease group except for old age. In the domestic population, horse mortality from all types of colic was 0.7 deaths per 100 horses per year [i]. Despite its common occurrence, the cause is rarely diagnosed.
Following are 7 easily implemented measures to decrease the risk of colic:
Learn about the physical, mental and emotional benefits of eating in a natural grazing position & more when you feed your horse from the ground.
The vicious cycle of meal fed, hungry hoovers can be remedied. We feed meals due to convenience or concerns about a horse's weight - and rightfully so. Obesity promotes inflammation and a host of other health challenges. However, meals restrict access to forage, which presents its own adverse effects - both mentally and physically. In this post, we'll discuss alternative approaches to feeding that can lead to happier, healthier horses and less stress at feeding time.
Take advantage of the least palatable varieties of forage to naturally slow consumption rate by feeding them seperately. Immature cuttings of cool season grasses and alfalfa are very palatable and highly digestible (more concentrated source of calories per pound). For most horses, donkeys, goats and other barnyard buddies if you blend palatable and less palatable varieties it will result in the same enthusiasm and rate of consumption.
Provide your equine with forage prior to and during prolonged exercise. While trail riding, offer the opportunity to graze along the way.
Fiber creates a mat of sorts which prevents acid splashing in the stomach. The equine stomach produces acid 24 hours a day (16 gallons!) in preparation for constant uptake and begins to empty in as little as 15-20 minutes. Chewing activates saliva production (an alkaline substance rich in bicarbonate), which buffers gastric acid. An empty stomach allows unbuffered gastric acid to slosh and bathe its lining causing discomfort and may induce ulcers. (Learn more about how forage helps buffer gastric acid and prevent ulcers.)
February 10, 2012 was the day a very sad realization occurred to me. One of the large contributing factors to our economic decline is that jobs are outsourced to other countries; white and blue collar.
Having completed the prototype process for my new product, I was excited to find wholesale suppliers to start production.
Some horses paw or are aggressive at feeding time. This is more than likely due to frustration and/or pain. They are anxious to self-medicate; their stomach does not feel well due to the build-up of acid and/or painful gastric ulcers. Once they start chewing and eating they experience relief. Read on to find out why.
If your horse attacks their hay or herd mates for food, this is not "normal". They may be Insulin Resistant - a voracious appetite is one of the many signs of IR. Or they are stressed due to waiting for and receiving meals - instead of always having forage available.
If your current "slow feeder" is not slow enough, it will take time and experimentation to supply your equine with a limited amount of hay AND have it available 24/7.
The purpose of this article is to inform equine guardians of the potential for unhealthy levels of nitrates in hay to increase awareness that will lead to change. You can’t see smell or taste nitrates. They can lurk in the prettiest, greenest best smelling bale of hay. The only way to know the levels you are feeding is to test your forage. It is optimum to test prior to purchase.
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