Holistic Horsekeeping Newsletter March 2023

Holistic Horsekeeping, Madalyn Ward, DVM
How to have a healthy happy horse.
Volume 28, Number 3

Free Fecal Water Syndrome

Free fecal water syndrome (FFW) is being recognized more often in horses. The clinical signs are normal manure that passes along with watery manure. FFW is different for diarrhea because the manure is patricianly formed along with watery fluid rather than being consistently soft. This water, manure mix stains the hair on the tail and hindquarters. The fact that this condition is seen mostly in the winter months makes keeping the horse clean a big challenge. 

The most common causes for FFW are:

Change from pasture to hay

Change from one batch of hay to another 

Too much grain in the diet

Change from pasture to hay is an issue, especially for any horse with dental issues, because hay is less digestible than fresh pasture. When forage is properly digested it gets drier as it passes through the large intestine. If the forage is not fully digested it causes water to not be absorbed as well from the intestine. 

Change from one hay to another can trigger FFW if the new hay is less digestible. You can try to get the softest hay possible but even the best hays will be less digestible after being stored in the barn for many months. 

Feeding too much grain can trigger FFW because any starch that is not fully digested in the small intestine will pass into the large intestine and interfere with the fiber digesting bacteria that reside there. 

All of these causes are related to incomplete digestion of fiber so improving digestion can help control FFW. I have found that there is no one product that consistently controls FFW symptoms in all horses. You have to try several until you find the one that works best for your horse. I like a blue green algae, enzyme and probiotic formula fed at the rate of 1 tsp twice a day. Some horses will do better with an algae product that has high potency probiotics and enzymes in capsule form. I give 1 packet a day. 

Psyllium has been suggested to support the microbiome in the large intestine. I love the Arenus products for quality psyllium. Assure or Assure Guard Gold are the best choices for FFW. 

It is good to check the teeth but sometimes these horses may not be able to digest hay at all. In this case you can go to a full hay pellet diet or cubes, such as Triple Crown Timothy Balance Cubes. These hay substitutes need to be dampened to soften them but I don’t like add more water than is needed. Too much water will fill the horse up so he can’t get all the nutrition he needs. Too much water will also make the feed very heavy which can cause a displacement of the stomach. 

FFW is an annoyance but fortunately does not cause any pain to the horse. Management is the best prevention and supplements that support proper fiber digestion. 

Is a Equine Homeopathic Consult for you and your Horse?

If you would like to address your horse’s chronic and other conditions with natural methods or a homeopathic way? Work with a licensed Veterinarian who has specialized in Homeopathy for 35-years. Dr. Madalyn Ward offers Homeopathic Consultations, a great way to address chronic and other equine conditions.

Visit our website to get more details and sign up: https://holistichorsekeeping.com/consultations.html

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