Your Horses Health.

Creating a Healthy Balance..,

When it comes to thinking about the importance of my horses health, I have to admit that my animals are a very important part of my life.

It’s not only because I am a country and nature girl by heart.., I honestly believe that the bond is more intricate than that.

Its my opinion that a person has not fully opened their heart until they have accepted the beauty of nature and all its joys and perfections around themselves.

Its funny though, animals don’t seem to have to learn life. They just live it. Why can’t we all do that? We have so much to figure out.

The Health of the Family Farm..,

Considering how I feel about the things around me, I wonder why I continue to play with my horses food health. Why do I let them become so obese?

Actually, I prefer to just call it “over-weight” but what indifference that breeds to a serious situation and state of health that I have foisted on my equine friends.

Yes, I admit it…, I am a person who eats to feel great. I exercise which helps me out, but the mere act of eating for joy is certainly something I pass onto my obese equine family.

There is food to keep ‘em from eating the stall on a rainy day. Or how about the flake of hay, to devour while brushing ‘em clean. ..,

The situation doesn't matter, though, its the continual imposing of food to a situation while expecting a different result that is actually “illogical Spock” and tremendous denial when it comes to our horses health.

What should I be feeding my horse?

There was a long time where I was not clear what it is that I should be feeding my horses for their optimum horses health. I was not sure how to design and implement a balanced feeding program, or know even where it is that I should start.

And wow as I started to research and gather facts, I found it hard to find the information that I was looking for, and was no further ahead in the end of what I needed to do to feed the balanced horse.

But little by little I have collected the information that I am sharing with you on several web pages regarding your horses health.

And from what I can tell, it all starts from really and truly understanding the starting point of the health of your equine as it stands today.

The base of your horses health begins with the assessment of your horse's body weight score and making adjustments as required.

Did you know..? An over-weight horse can suffer more from heat exhaustion than a fit horse.

A Horses Body Score..,

There are a variety of methods which can help you equate your horse’s body score. These methods look at where the horse is now in weight, the age of the horse and where the horse should be optimally for its health and well being.

The score goes from a [1] or appearance of “Poor” or extremely emaciated (bones project prominently and no layer of fat can be felt), to a [4] or “Moderate” (back is flat and ribs are not visually apparent but are easily felt and shoulders and neck blend into the body), to a [8] or “Fat” where there is a crease visible down the back and the area around the shoulders is filled with fat and there is noticeable thickening of the neck, to a [9] or “Extremely Fat” where the back crease is obviously visible, there is patchy fat over the ribs, behind the shoulders, along the neck and the horses inner thighs may rub together.

A score of your horse an be from sophisticated tests to less sophisticated methods with call for routine checks of the animal.

Getting 'er done..,

Deciding on the body score of a horse can be started by first observing the horses top line.

Score a 3 or lower...,

Check to see if the tops of the horses spinal column are protruding above or sunken below or level with the back? If the spine is not covered with a layer of muscle and fat and is visible, then the horse is emaciated and scores a 3 or lower depending on the severity. If the spine is level with the back then the score is a 5 or 6.

Score a 7..,

Feel around the spine. If you can feel the spine just below the back muscles and you can detect the ribs, then the score is a 7. From my readings this appears to be a good weight for most working horses health. However, if you have to push further to find the spine and ribs, then the score is an 8 which could mean an adjustment to feed and reduction in calorie intake. If in fact your horse has a trough over its spine this horse is seriously over weight and its feed program should be redesigned.

Did you know..? A high protein and carbohydrate diet can cause some horses health to become spooky or aggressive. Molasses and corn based feeds can be a cause of this and you should talk with your vet.

A Horses Health and Different Life Stages..,

What are the requirements of horses during the different stages of life?

Resting adult. This is, of course, the nicest possible way of saying the non working horse. A horses health score of 5 or 6 is the maximum for these types of horses. Hay, grass and a very small portions of grain (enough to bring them to the barn) is all that is needed.

Technically speaking the energy intake should be 1.5 Mcal/100 lbs body weight per day. This looks like 20 pounds of good grass hay .

Working adult. This horse is one which is training or working and because of that requires the extra food and nutrients for energy. How much extra is dependant on the amount, as well as the speed, of the work the animal is doing.

A horse score for a working adult should be around 6. For a 1,100 pound horse a daily maintenance is Energy 16.4 Mcal/day, Crude Protein 656g, Potassium 14g, Magnesium 7.5-10g, Copper 30ppm, Zinc 40ppm, Selenim 0.2ppm.

A way to figure out the energy needed for your working horse is to feed this maintenance program which is based on body weight and then add the extra required for the amount and speed of work that is being done.

Quality hay and sufficient grain should be adequate to meet energy needs. However there may be a need for supplementary minerals if your feed is low. Again, this is a good question for your horse dietician or vet. Generally speaking though, a horse doing mild work requires .5 to 1 pound of grain per hour of work done. A horse doing moderate work requires 2-3 pounds of grain per hour of work done and a horse doing hard work needs 4 pounds of grain per hour of work done.

Please also note that it is important for horses to be fed a good grain as well as a good source of minerals including electrolytes.

For working horses energy should be made up with readily fermentable complex carbohydrates such as sugar beet pulp or add oil rather than extra starch.

Starches produce higher stomach acidity which, as discussed before, can lead to the chance of ulcers. Also, a high carbohydrate diet generates excess energy which makes a horse hotter or harder to handle.

If you feed high starch in your horses diet, provide things such as calcium or magnesium in the feed as a supplement. These additives are soluble and can help arrest the formation of ulcers by acting as an antacid. (And as a side note, it is thought that by reducing such stomach discomfort from excess acid can reduce cribbing behavior.)

Did you know..? Feeding too much at once is an overload of simple carbohydrates and affect a horses health. One large meal can set the fermentation process into high gear and may cause the hind gut to be over loaded as the large meal pushes through.

An overloaded hind gut can lead to all kinds of problems from simple gas and diarrhea to serious colic and founder.

Yearling and Two year old. A yearling requires around 12.5 % quality protein and energy intake of 2.25 – 2.7 Mcal/100 lbs body weight per day depending on the expected mature size.

The two year old requires around 12% protein and 1.9-2.7 Mcal/100 lbs body weight per day depending on expected mature size and level of training.

For a yearling to grow to 1,100 pounds mature weight is Energy 19Mcal per day, Crude Protein 900g, Calcium 32g per day, Potassium 18g per day, Magnesium 6g per day, Selenium 0.2 ppm, Copper 30ppm, Zinc 40ppm.

A body score of 6 is ample. Avoid too much protein and offer feed with essential amino acids. Carbohydrates should be complex (avoid over feeding with corn and molasses) and consider feeds based on oats or sugar beet pulp instead for this horses health.

Two and Four year old. This horse is similar to the resting adult based on the estimated mature weight. For example if the estimated mature weight is 1,100 pounds this means Energy 15.0 Mcal per day, Crude Protein 900g, Calciu 26g/day, Magnesium 8g/day, Selenium 0.2 ppm, Copper 30ppm, and Zinc 40ppm. The body score of 6 is ample.

Senior. This is a horse which is 19 years plus. As with humans, an older horse may have digestion issues and my need feed which is easily eaten. Feeds my need to be soft, wet or soaked. Feeds based on sugar beet pulp or cooked and flaked grain. The energy requirements is very similar to the maintenance level for this senior horses health.

Links to more Horses Health Sites.

Horse Diseases. Horse diseases and injuries are frighteningly common. The decisions you make in the early stages of an equine illness or emergency can make a huge difference in the outcome. Join with Moira to competently handle a variety of situations, quickly determine if your equine vet is needed and know what to do while waiting for help for help to arrive. Lots of information here.

• Consider these Horse Care ideas which are provided to you by Greenhorn Horse Facts. Caring for horses can feel overwhelming and vet bills can be staggering. Daily examinations can keep your horse healthy and safe.

• Horse Bedding information which will help you provide the best flooring choice for your equine needs. Learn to measure what's good, better and best for your horses over all horse bedding and horse health needs.

• For many of us Horse Hay is one of the largest ongoing expenses we have with our horse. Learn how to rate your horse's hay before you buy. When it comes to economical feeding programs, quality is a consideration regardless if you are producing or buying or selling your hay.

• It is difficult to find consistent information on the best Horse Feed programs. In the good ol days horses feed was sparse and generally fibrous, not the sugars we see in foods today.

• Horse Poisons can be found in all pastures. Do you know your toxic plant species? Do you know the variables which may affect the plants levels of toxicity?

• Horse Wormer and other Horse Meds are listed here. Understand horse wormer and how the different types play into the health of your families equine.

Aloe For Horses. Pamela shares an article by Veterinary Surgeon, Peter Green on Aloe and Horses that is worth consideration.

PLEASE NOTE: This web page is based on the research and conversations that we have had with various people and professionals on the subject of horses health and horse wormer requirements and is not intended to replace veterinary care for your animals. We do not accept liability for errors or omissions. A vet, horse nutritionist or other trained professional should always be consulted with any equine concerns, or before changing any feeding or care regime.