Hoof Nutrition Intelligence is a twice-a-month web segment that is designed to add to the education of footcare professionals when it comes to effectively feeding the hoof. The goal of this web-exclusive feature is to zero in on specific areas of hoof nutrition and avoid broad-based articles that simply look at the overall equine feeding situation.
Below you will find Part 1 of the latest question and answer installment that you can share with your footcare clients.
Q: Why is it so important to avoid overfeeding grain to horses?
By Jessica Normand
A: We have the idea here in the United States that horses need grain, and it’s simply not true. There is nothing particularly healthy about grain that a horse must have from a nutrient standpoint. So be wary of overfeeding grain as most horses can get their needed nutrients from roughage.
Overfeeding grain is a factor in digestive problems, such as ulcers and colic. Unhealthy weight gain can lead to metabolic conditions such as laminitis. Excessive weight is also a factor in excitability issues and in horses with unwanted behavior.
With a horse that spends most of its time in a stall, feeding 10 pounds of sweet feed per day is like giving a 5-year old boy M&Ms at every meal and then wondering why he’s obnoxious. Sugars have a big influence on behavior and horses can have a big spike in blood sugar levels after consuming a high sugar meal.
If you have a Thoroughbred or a very hard-working performance horse, sugar can provide quick energy and speed. With a draft horse that is really burning calories while working hard all day, you want a combination of sugars, proteins and fats that offer both fast-burning and slow-burning energy.
But for the average pleasure horse being worked a half-hour on only 3 days per week, stay away from the sweet feed.
Jessica Normand is the national director of equine health education at SmartPak in Plymouth, Mass.
Hoof Nutrition Intelligence is brought to you by W.F. Young Co. (Absorbine).
Like many significant achievements, Absorbine® grew out of humble beginnings—and through the tenacity of someone willing to question the status quo. In this case, it was a young woman in late 19th-century Massachusetts: Mary Ida Young. Her husband, Wilbur Fenelon Young, was an enterprising piano deliveryman who relied on the couple’s team of horses to make deliveries throughout the Northeast. Inspired by Mary Ida and Wilbur’s vision, Absorbine® has continued to add innovative products throughout the years — products used every day by horse owners around the world. Which is why, since 1892, we’ve been The Horse World’s Most Trusted Name®.
Click here to read Part 1 of the August 15, 2016 installment: Since hoof nutrition sounds complicated, can you give me a basic lesson on the role of nutrition in hoof health?