Holistic Horse Health: The Buzz From the Barn

Madalyn with horseMadalyn Ward, DVM shares her answers to specific holistic horse care questions from clients. To see more questions and answers on real holistic horse care situations check out our Holistic Horsekeeping  and Horse Harmony Facebook  pages.

Q #1 – We recently purchased a 5 year old, OTTB. When we brought him home he had racing plates on his front feet and nothing on the back. His feet and coat condition were horrible. We assumed once they decided to sell he was probably ignored. He was flighty and reactive but you could see a “good boy” under the surface.

We pulled the shoes, began feeding him Total Equine Low Starch and SBGA, and unlimited turn out. With daily work outs he was coming along quite well and was being accepted into our herd. No longer flighty, no longer afraid to walk in the barn, easy to catch, improved coat, a really good boy. Then one night he came in dead lame. We thought he had been kicked in the knee because there was a cut on the knee area. After a few days of stall rest and butte he wasn’t responding so we took him to our local vet. Full blown founder with beginning rotation. The vet is recommending corrective shoeing, stall rest and the possibility he will never be able to go barefoot or be turned out on grass. She isn’t even sure he will recover at all and I don’t think euthanasia is off the table. Do you have a recommendation for supplementation? There are so many laminitis products out there I don’t even know where to start. We pick him up today with his new shoes and he will be reevaluated in two weeks to see if there is any improvement. The corrective shoes get reset every two weeks and then he apparently will go to a shoe with pad and eventually regular shoes.

A – I suspect your horse did founder from the high sugar grass after all the rain you have had. The grass founder can be secondary to bacteria changes in the hind gut. Getting him off the grass and supporting his feet with a good boot may be better than shoeing. Easy boot makes a great therapeutic boot that you can buy pads for. This is an option if you do not see good results with the shoes.

Probiotics and antioxidants are my treatment of choice and I stay away from bute or banamine. It is better for your horse to not move around until his lamina can recover and the pain killers will allow for more movement than is desired. I also like course sand bedding over shavings.

This powdered algae product has the probiotics and antioxidants but you will need to increase the amount to 1 TBS twice a day to get the gut bacteria balanced. Stay at this level until your horse is comfortable walking and then you can gradually decrease the amounts back to maintenance.

Unfortunately, the hay may also be high sugar so I would replace half of your hay ration with a low starch product like Triple Crown Safe Starch forage and/or Ontario Timothy balance cubes. Find out from the dealer exactly what the sugar and starch levels are on the total equine feed. Some low starch feeds are still too high for a foundered horse. You need the ESC + starch to be less than 10%.

It does not sound like your horse has metabolic issues but you may still want to order my laminitis e book for extra education on the natural treatments. Keep me posted on how your horse does.

Q – I have an earth/ metal Morgan mare. I feed her whole oats and Equine Challenge for grass hay also Himalayan salt block, grass hay. When I tie her up she licks the dirt from the rail. What mineral is she lacking? Equine challenge has flax seed and a probiotic.

A – Your mare may be trying to buffer her stomach. Earth horses can be prone to stomach ulcers. If you go to www.horsetemperament.com you can look at our Earth horse balancing formula. It could help.

If you enjoyed this post or found it helpful, let me know by leaving a comment below. You can also find me on Facebook where I always appreciate a LIKE. To order any of the products mentioned in this post or other  products for you or your horses, please visit my online store.

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