The Horse

NOV 2018

The Horse:Your Guide To Equine Health Care provides monthly equine health care information to horse owners, breeders, veterinarians, barn/farm managers, trainer/riding instructors, and others involved in the hands-on care of the horse.

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TheHorse.com | The Horse November 2018 67 remained unchanged following soak- ing, although sole moisture did increase significantly. Horse hooves subjected to periods immersed in mud or standing water are predisposed to thrush, skin infection, and subsolar abscesses." Minimizing Sand Ingestion Horses fed hay on the ground invari- ably consume dirt, especially when seeking tiny pieces of alfalfa leaves. Bored horses without access to free-choice hay might eat dirt intentionally. "To minimize sand ingestion, feed hay from large plastic or metal water tanks rather than from hanging feeders, where horses pull hay onto the ground as they eat," says Turner. "Another aid is to place rubber mats in the feeding areas. The mats can be swept or hosed off prior to feeding to minimize contamination of hay with sand." You might also use trac- tor tires that have been turned inside out as feeding stations. Even with these practices, for horses in drylot living situations, Turner encour- ages using a psyllium-based supplement according to manufacturers' directions to help move sand through the digestive tract. Consuming hay offered free-choice can also help move sand and dirt through the intestines, while giving the horse something with which to occupy his time and satisfy his need to chew. Relieving Boredom In a natural setting horses spend intermittent periods throughout the day grazing. Without that option, and for horses not allowed access to free-choice hay due to obesity, boredom can create significant management issues. For this reason Turner uses slow feeder haynets or mangers for feeding hay. Not all horses are interested in playing with toys, he notes, but they all like to eat. "Slow feed- ers are good for making horses 'work a little harder' for their forage, while keeping them occupied for a good while longer than if fed loose hay," he says. A practical solution for feeding a herd in a drylot is to spread hay piles around the area. This helps prevent dominant horses from interfering with subordinate herd members' mealtime. It also encour- ages horses to exercise, moving from pile to pile. Bored horses might also chew paddock fences. While edging wood planks with metal helps limit this habit, Turner warns that worn metal can introduce other problems or dangers, so he suggests using wood plank substitutes when possible. Alternatives include metal pipe, channel iron, PVC rails, or composite decking materials. Ensuring Proper Nutrient Intake "In general, feeding a mature adult horse 2% of its body weight in long-stem good-quality forage each day comes close to meeting most of a horse's energy and protein requirements for maintenance and a desirable body condition score," says Turner. For horses that are still growing, in regular training, or need more nutrients to maintain body condition, he suggests following manufacturers' feeding direc- tions on the feed bag of your choice. Also, consult your veterinarian and/or equine nutritionist to tailor a feeding program to each horse and his particular needs. "A hay analysis lets you know exactly what nutrients are available to your horse from a specific batch of forage," he says. "If there are changes in type of hay (legume vs. cool-season grass vs. warm- season grass vs. cereal grain hay) offered, the cutting of hay, or source of forage, then you'll want to get a new analysis to enable appropriate adjustments to the feeding program. Hay analysis is relatively inexpensive and can save much more on feed costs, especially when feed- ing hay year-round." During some times of year or sea- sons, local hay can be in short supply. Turner says you can purchase byproduct feedstuffs (e.g., cottonseed hulls, soybean hulls, distiller's dried grains, oats, etc.) to provide bulk roughage in the diet, as well as other nutrients. "Use of these substitutes is mostly recommended for mature adult horses rather than young, growing horses," he says. "Due to wide variations between different byproducts, as well as between batches of the same feedstuff, test the feed for specific nutritional values." Con- sult your veterinarian and nutritionist to help fine-tune your use of these substitute feed products. Other forage substitutes are available in the form of hay cubes, haylage, alfalfa pellets, beet pulp, and compressed hay. Neurologic or muscle disease and immune deficiency problems can occur when horses don't consume adequate vitamin E, a nutrient normally found in green grass. "Most modern commercially available equine-formulated feeds contain vitamin E on the guaranteed analysis label," says Turner. "If such commercial products are fed, there may be no need to supplement further." Potts recommends supplying vitamin E (either with a supplement or commercial feed) when horses have no pasture access and/or are growing, breeding, lactating, or in heavy exercise. If you have con- cerns about vitamin deficiencies, consult ISABELLE ARNON Horses without grass access need plenty of good-quality hay or forage substitutes to meet their 2% body weight daily forage requirements. ISTOCK.COM Without the ability to graze all day, horses might develop boredom issues such as wood-chewing.

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