LIZZIE DRURY MSC RNUTR
Laminitis is a common disease and is the second biggest killer of horses and ponies in the UK. It is a disease frequently seen in overweight horses and ponies in the spring, summer and autumn.
There are many different causes of laminitis but the most common and most researched cause is that of inappropriate diet and management. With correct feeding and management you can help to protect your horse or pony from this extremely painful and dangerous disease and the following top tips are designed to help.
TIPS TO REMEMBER WHEN ADDRESSING FIBRE INTAKE
• Diets that are high in fibre are healthy: Do not compromise fibre intake if your horse or pony is in a starvation paddock or stabled. Aim for a forage intake of between 1 - 1.5% of bodyweight for weight loss and 2% for maintenance.
• To remove calories but still provide essential bulk, hay can be soaked in water for a minimum of 3 hours, which recent research has shown to be extremely effective in reducing the calorie content. Remember to rinse the hay off after soaking.
• If your horse or pony has a tendency to be a very good doer and is overweight, replace a portion of his hay ration with good quality oat straw (do not give oat straw to older horses with poor dentition).
• For weight loss hay should be analysed for its non-structural carbohydrate (NSC) content and ideally should contain less than 10-12% NSC.
WHEN TO FEED A BALANCER?
• You are feeding a forage only diet and need to supply the key nutrients that are lacking in the forage sources.
• You are feeding below the manufacturer’s feeding recommendations for a coarse mix or cube to make up the nutrient shortfall.
• You own a horse or pony that has a tendency to become very overweight on the recommended feeding rates for a coarse mix or cube (2.5kg for a 500kg horse), yet they still require their daily micronutrient requirements.
• Typical balancer feeding recommendation: Feed 100gms per 100kg bodyweight of Saracen Essential Balancer per day to provide a balanced ration.
ESSENTIAL BALANCER is low in sugar, starch and calories and therefore suitable for horses and ponies that are ‘good doers’ and in particular native breeds of ponies. Dense in vitamins, minerals and quality protein sources, Essential Balancer helps to maintain muscle tone and topline as well as supporting optimum health and vitality.
A source of Omega 3 fatty acids helps to condition and shine the coat, creating a picture of health inside and out.
Fibre: 7.2% Oil 4.7% Protein 26.1% DE 11.7% Starch 5.9%
WHICH FEED BALANCER?
Stick to feeds that are low in calories, high in digestible fibre, low in carbohydrate but dense in nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, quality protein and antioxidants e.g. cinnamon and vitamin E. Saracen Horse Feeds formulated SHAPE-UP™ Balancer for the nutritional management of good doers & those at risk to metabolic disorders such as Cushing’s disease, laminitis and Equine Metabolic Syndrome (EMS), when it is used as part of a well planned and managed feed and exercise programme.
The main principle of the diet is to ultimately provide a complete feed that is low in energy and starch and yet rich in key elements that help to support, immune function, coat and hoof condition and metabolism.
Saracen SHAPE-UP™ is based primarily on digestible fibre sources, which help to keep sugar and starch levels low. Many low calorie feeds are typically low in quality protein and oil and this can give rise, over a period of time, to horses that have persistent poor coat and hoof quality and a lower tolerance to exercise. We have ensured that these factors are addressed whilst also ensuring that calorie levels are carefully managed.
WHY SARACEN SHAPE-UP BALANCER?
• While every effort should be made to try and prevent horses going for long periods with nothing to eat Shape Up™ may help to maintain normal pH levels in the stomach and fermentation patterns in the hindgut as it contains a unique acid buffer.
• Contains a source of Omega-3 fatty acids to support optimum joint, skin and coat condition.
• Research has shown that specific minerals such as magnesium can help to maintain normal cell sensitivity & metabolic rate.
• Includes a healthy hoof package to support hoof quality and growth• Includes a mycotoxin binder to effectively remove harmful bacteria from the digestive system.
• Contains vitamin E to ‘mop up’ free radicals, helping to support optimum health and immune function.
• Contains cinnamon for palatability and superior antioxidant support.
FURTHER TIPS FOR MANAGING WEIGHT
• Exercise is an essential part of preventing obesity and the issues associated with it, e.g. Equine Metabolic Syndrome and Laminitis. Dr Nicholas Frank from the University of Tennessee’s College of Veterinary Medicine recommends exercise as a ‘more is better’ approach providing that the horse is sound. In addition research has shown that exercise can improve insulin sensitivity further helping to reduce the risk of laminitis.
• Exercise programmes must be designed with the individual in mind and a realistic assessment of the horse made to establish a safe fitness regime. • Most of us lead busy working lives but just 20 minutes of exercise can help encourage weight loss. With a little thought you can come up with some innovative exercise ideas that save you time but help keep your horse active and sometimes also helping keep you fit too!
• Try and make sure that horses only graze when sugar levels in the grass are low, often overnight (late evening until early morning) is the best time.
• Use a grazing muzzle to decrease your horse’s grass intake whilst still allowing them turn out time.
• Do not turnout on to frosty paddocks, especially on sunny mornings.
• Do not overwork on hard surfaces.