Today, feeding horses is more than just about giving each horse the same grain. It’s also not as simple as tossing the grains in equal amounts and adjusting the amount according to the horse’s weight. Thanks to advances in horse nutrition research, feed is more effective and targeted today. This allows us to identify and address specific nutritional and performance needs to optimize nutrition, performance, health, and overall well-being.
How can science and research contribute to the feed your horse eats? (equine nutritionist) spoke to us about the science behind modern feeds and how that knowledge is reflected in horses’ feeds. Vandergrift founded Equi Vision, Inc., an international equine consulting company. He is also an independent consultant for Triple Crown Nutrition and a Western horseman. He has been an equine nutritionist and a horse trainer and even worked as a Thoroughbred racing horse trainer. This experience has made him keenly aware of the needs of the equine athlete. Vandergrift stated, “When science and training are combined, that’s when you can see the difference between theory & reality.”
I can recall the mid-1980s when the first research was published about increasing horse feed fat. This was done primarily to increase stamina in performance horses, and later also to benefit horses with problems such as tying up due polysaccharide stock myopathy (PSSM),” he stated about science-based changes in horse nutrition. “Back then, horses would eat horse feeds with five per cent fat.
Vandergrift said that horses do not need to eat high-fat diets. However, it has benefited the increasing number of horses suffering from insulin resistance. Vandergrift also stated that switching to fats over starches has helped horses with serious health problems.
He continued, “Today there are fat supplements as well as fat supplement using different sources.” In the 1980s, corn oil was all that was used to add fat. We now realize that this is not the oil source you want.
Nutritionists know that corn oil contains approximately 50 times as many omega-6 fatty acids as omega-3. This can be important because omega-6 fatty acids can cause inflammation, while omega-3 fatty acids may have anti-inflammatory properties.
Vandergrift stated, “This is just one example of all the knowledge that has been gained over the past three decades.”
Vandergrift has broken down the key ingredients of Triple Crown’s Equinix to show how science is embedded in horse feeds today.
Vandergrift explained that a horse in his natural environment would not consume a diet containing 10 per cent fat. Vandergrift explained that horses could live in their natural environment.
They don’t have a gallbladder, so they don’t store bio acid and lecithin. These digestive juices are vital for the digestion and absorption of fats. Horses are very adaptable to high-fat diets. They can digest fat but use different mechanisms.
Equinix’s addition of lysolethicin increases the horse’s ability to produce his own ethical, increasing the amount digested and absorbed through the small intestine. Horses move very quickly through their small intestines. Therefore, you want to ensure that the horse’s diet is mostly digested and absorbed from the small intestine. The fat and starch mustn’t be absorbed into the large intestine as it could interfere with fermentation.
Vandergrift stated that butyric acid is a volatile fatty acid. This means it disperses in the air and gets absorbed into the body as soon as it hits the stomach or intestine. It has a rather unpleasant odour. Because it is a major food source for intestinal cells, butyric acid has been widely used in livestock production. It helps maintain the health of the intestinal epithelium.
Vandergrift said that butyric acid is also important in preventing leaky gut syndrome. The leaky gut syndrome is caused by damage to the gastrointestinal lining or the breakdown of tight junctions between cells within the lining. Chronic diarrhoea, manure with an unusual appearance, smell, and general dullness can all be symptoms.
Buti PEARL is a trademark of Kemin Industries. Kemin Industries developed this innovative method to deliver butyric acids to horses. Vandergrift stated that they have encapsulated butyric acid and used peppermint oil as a masking agent.
Prebiotics and Probiotics
Vandergrift stated that research into the equine microbiome and certain probiotics have significantly impacted nutrition knowledge and that we are only scratching the surface. It’s complex, and there are many interactions between the microbiome, the intestine and the brain. We have already been able to integrate what we are learning.”
Recent research has shown that probiotics (live microorganisms such as yeasts and bacteria, intended to support the gut’s beneficial bacteria) and prebiotics (foods that promote healthy bacteria growth) can work in conjunction.
Time is so much better than either of them by itself that you have to wonder why you would bother feeding them separately.
Based on this science, Equinix’s prebiotics, yeasts, and probiotics were developed. Vandergrift stated that substantial evidence supports the idea that these may help horses resist infections and mycotoxins caused by mould or fungus in their hay.
Equinix contains lactobacillus acidophilus as well as Bacillus subtle. “We have included the Bacillus subtilis in Equinix because a lot of research published by refereed scientific journals shows that it interferes with Clostridium perfringens and Clostridium diffuse . Both can cause serious problems in stressed horses.
Equinix’s prebiotic Mannan Oligosaccharide, which neutralizes various mycotoxins, can help reduce the risk of E. coli. E. coli and Salmonella can attach to cell walls and be absorbed into the body through leaky gut syndrome. Vandergrift stated that research has shown that prebiotics such as frusta oligosaccharides and manna-oligosaccharides is the best way to restore beneficial anaerobic bacteria.
Minerals are essential for horses’ diets. They help metabolize nutrients, maintain connective tissue health, and oxygenate the muscles and other functions. Equinix contains seven organic minerals (selenium and iron, manganese and zinc) and three micro minerals (boron and chromium).
Vandergrift stated that selenium is one of the magnetic minerals in this group. “For many years, the feed industry used sodium selenite as an inorganic source of selenium. We now have an organic source of selenium.
Organic selenium is a source of selenium that is easily absorbed by the body. This gives you two benefits. It improves the efficiency of the body’s use of dietary selenium. Also, it is less toxic than inorganic. This means that your horse will not be exposed to excessive selenium either intentionally or over time. It’s safer and more efficient than inorganic selenium.
Vandergrift also said that other minerals are important. Vandergrift stated that zinc is an important component of hoofs, hair, skin and intestinal tissue. Research has shown that zinc hydroxy chloride (the zinc source we are currently using) is more easily digestible and more readily available. It also interacts less with other minerals, which could decrease their availability.
Vandergrift stated that micro minerals are only needed in very small quantities, but they play a significant role.