Our equine friends are notorious for their sensitive digestive systems, with many horses and ponies prone to digestive problems such as colic or gastric ulcers. In his continuing series of articles for Pegasus, Peter Fishpool of Scientific Nutritional Products takes a look at how to avoid these all-too-common issues.
The horse has a unique and incredibly sensitive digestive system which requires nurturing in a domesticated environment, as for many horses modern lifestyle has meant equines experience more stabled time, less turn-out, richer pasture and an increased amount of concentrate feed.
Unlike us, the horse is naturally designed to trickle feed.
This means they are meant to eat small amounts of food on a regular basis. The foundation of any equine’s diet should always be forage, as forage such as grass or hay allows the digestive system to function as naturally as possible. Chewing forage not only allows the teeth to wear correctly but the production of salvia helps maintain healthy pH levels in the gut. Without sufficient forage the acidity of the gut can become too high, risking damage to the stomach lining, and the rest of the gastrointestinal tract potentially leading to problems such as gastric ulcers and colic.
The horse’s stomach is actually quite small, so it is important to provide concentrate feed on a ‘little and often’ basis as the equine is only being able to process small portions of food at a time. Feeding your horse large meals can be dangerous, just like long periods without sustenance can be.
Routine is vitally important for our equines and ensuring the feeding process is as natural as possible by offering ample forage, top quality feed ingredients and small meals in a set schedule can reduce the risk of gut problems such as gastric ulcers and colic.
A supplement providing vitamins and minerals can successfully complement a natural diet which is high in fibre sourced through forage. Scientific Nutritional Products offers Horse & Pony Multivitamin and Competition Horse Supplement which both include a comprehensive vitamin and mineral package completing a balanced diet and boosting nutritional health.