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When is it time to give up on my horse?
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martinegroeneveld@mac.com
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 Posted: Sun Oct 6th, 2013 04:04 am
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Hi Pauline and Dr. Deb,

I've been following this thread with great interest. My mare has been on magnesium supplementation now for a few weeks and I've seen a great change.

Does magnesium deficiency show up in blood results? There are two horses that I work with that have some issues and I'm wondering if magnesium might be helpful for them. The vet ran bloodwork on both horses about a month ago, and both horses have healthy magnesium levels according to the vet. Based on that, could we conclude that these horses don't have a magnesium deficiency and so would not benefit from magnesium supplementation? Or is magnesium level in blood not the best indicator?

I'm also reading all the information on salt and have ordered celtic sea salt for my mare, she doesn't touch her redmond salt at all.
But a question keeps coming up for me. When a horse is in need of salt, and has access to free salt in the form of salt licks, will he not seek and lick the salt by himself? Just like when it's hot and we're sweating a lot, we love the taste of something salty, because we need it? I understand the need for unrefined sea salt instead of a regular salt lick when you're supplementing with magnesium (to have salt with lower calcium). But in a case where magnesium is not an issue, should a horse be supplemented 2-4tbsp of salt even when it has access to free salt licks?

Thank you for explaining,

Martine

rachel
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 Posted: Mon Oct 7th, 2013 12:38 am
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Hi Martine, I cant tell you about other horses, just mine. Meiko ( the original "star" of the thread) had low magnesium show up in his blood tests, and after that was resolved he also then had low phosphate, ( I get his bloods tested yearly with his dental, and if any adjusting is needed I also get a follow up one a couple weeks later until the deficiency is resolved.) so he is on a mag- phos supplement.

He will not eat salt free choice, I still have the original pink salt block from the start of the thread, unlicked, reduced only by humidity, and if there is too much in his feed he wont eat his feed either. It also shows on his bloods as deficient when it is, so I often have to be creative in my methods of getting it into him. Please dont assume your horse will know what it needs automatically, there are too many variables.

alijay
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 Posted: Mon Oct 7th, 2013 02:17 am
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Hi Pauline,
Thanks for your advice. I realised that I probably wouldn't be able to tell just how much magnesium the boys would need if I only did it transdermally so I decided to give it to them in feed twice a day (also turns out to be quicker when short on time).

At first I was giving them the Ancient minerals brand of mag chloride but discovered that there only seems to be about 8mg of mag per gram. Very low when compared to the Electralife brand at 156mg per gram. So now I'm using that brand as they would obviously be getting more mag per dose (currently they're handling 30g per day).

A friend of mine has found a liquid mag called Nupafeed MAH which claims to be a highly absorbable form of magnesium. Have you heard of this brand? I've just emailed them to find out how much mag per mil as I would be curious to see if it is more cost effective than mag chloride.

Thanks again,
Ali

DrDeb
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 Posted: Mon Oct 7th, 2013 05:27 pm
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Let me pause this discussion for a moment here to interject just a word of caution. While Pauline's research, as well as her results, have been excellent, everyone needs to remember that each horsekeeping situation, in other words the "background conditions" for horsekeeping in their area, are different.

Australians typically provide their horses with rainwater to drink rather than what they would call "bore water", i.e. well water. Rain water almost universally has a somewhat acid pH, which makes absorption of minerals in the horse's hindgut much less efficient -- therefore requiring much higher amounts be fed to, or injected into, the animals in order to obtain therapeutic effect.

Geedubya's situation in California is similar to Pauline's because he lives in a non-irrigated area where the groundwater table is very deep and therefore pumping expensive. His horses therefore also are largely fed rainwater.

Although I also live in California, and in fact less than thirty miles from Geedubya, my horse is on irrigated land which has been carefully managed over the past century so that the groundwater table remains high. My horse therefore drinks well water, which is on the alkali side. So, although he is of related bloodlines, and is metabolically similar to, Geedubya's mustangs, Oliver requires much less Mg. He also continues to get 50% of his hay in the form of alfalfa/lucerne, and yet continues to be founder-free, insulin-normal, behaviorally calm, with a crest which is erect yet soft and floppy. His hooves are of excellent quality and he's 98% sound, which is to say as sound as he's ever going to be given the damage which occurred to his feet before he came into my ownership.

The old recommendation in all the textbooks, which is still the recommendation that you hear from feed companies and medical doctors, is that the ratio of Ca to Mg in the diet should be 2:1. Pauline's work has demonstrated that when circumstances demand it, this ratio can be much higher, as much as 1:1 or even higher.

The question then is: how do you tell 'when circumstances demand it'? Pauline's recommendation that you can feed Mg (in whatever form) until you provoke a diarrhea is fine -- HOWEVER it may not be necessary to go that far! We need to remember that the purpose of feeding the Mg was not to find out how much of it we could feed before a diarrhea is provoked in any given horse. Rather, what we need to see is:

(1) That the crest remains soft, so that it feels soft like soft foam when squeezed, and so that if you push the crest from side to side it moves freely.

(2) That if the feet had been warm or hot all the time, that this stops.

(3) That if the horse had been "off" as if from sore feet, that this improve.

(4) That if the hoof quality had been shelly, that it improve so that the hoofs feel like a hard rubber hockey puck.

(5) That if the horse had been insulin-resistant, or showing signs of this problem, that the signs abate and/or blood work becomes normal.

(6) That if the horse had been tense and spooky all the time, that he becomes calmer.

You need to feed only enough Mg, in whatever form, to obtain these results.

Can you feed TOO MUCH magnesium? Yes, and if you do, you will provoke the opposite condition, which rather than being "hypomagnesaemia" (too little magnesium), you will then have "hypocalcaemia" (too little calcium). An excess of Mg ions drives out Ca ions, just as an excess of Ca ions drives out Mg ions. In other words: in many physiological reactions, especially involving nerve and muscle tissue, Mg and Ca can freely substitute for each other, and the problem is to get them into the right ratio for the situation and the individual horse.

If you go too far with Mg supplementation, there are two possible (and rather large) possible negatives: one is that the horse will become exercise intolerant due to cardiac problems (Ca is necessary for normal heartbeat); and two that he may more easily break bones -- especially small, thin bones that nonetheless bear a good deal of pressure, such as the coffin bone and/or navicular bone. It is certainly true that the incidence of "idiopathic" coffin bone fracture is much higer in geriatric horses, just as the incidence of broken hips is much higher in older people -- the same more or less minor tumble that wouldn't have hurt a teenager or a forty-year-old in Grandma results in a serious injury that takes a long time to heal, if at all. This is because old mammals (whether they be humans or dogs or horses) lose the ability to efficiently uptake minerals in the hindgut. Thus an older horse may need BOTH Ca and Mg, or at least to avoid excessive Mg supplementation.

Another red flag is cast up by human bulimics who not only force themselves to vomit after eating, they also tend to over-use laxatives. The commonest laxative sold worldwide is Milk of Magnesia -- i.e. magnesium oxide. Chronic, long-term use of mag ox at dosages high enough to provoke diarrhea sends many of these people to the emergency room with heart palpitations and joints that suddenly crumble.

I've conferred with Pauline about this and she tells me that she knows of zero reports of such bad outcomes for horses that have been supplemented with the low-power Mag chloride from the Zechstein Sea, nor with Mag Ox at the rates she has been recommending. Recently in the U.S. however, Mag citrate has become widely available as a human supplement and I can tell you from personal experience that this form of Mg is, exactly as advertised, far easier for the body to absorb and therefore more effective. One therefore must be MUCH more careful not to overdose with it -- I find that for myself, I absolutely must take Mg citrate with a glass of milk or else in a pill formulated to the 2:1 Ca:Mg ratio. If I don't, I immediately start having heart palpitations and sore joints.

The other aspect that everyone should be aware of is that the gut becomes adapted, over time, to even fairly high doses of Mg Ox, so that a low dose that would initially have resulted in diarrhea will not, after a year or so, have that effect. Therefore the "diarrhea sign" of when you should stop increasing the dosage will gradually become unreliable.

The bottom line is this: you need to aim for the LEAST supplementation that gets the therapeutic effect you're aiming for. More is not always better, and in this case I think could be dangerous. It may (or may not) be true that Mg in a more highly-absorbable form would be more cost-effective; what is certainly true is that the more potency your supplement has, the more careful you will need to be with it. -- Dr. Deb

 

 

 

Pauline Moore
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 Posted: Mon Oct 14th, 2013 05:12 am
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Dr Deb
Thank you for adding your voice to an issue that has come to my attention also. In private correspondence with hundreds of horse owners, I’m often asked how much magnesium they should be giving their horses. My reply is always that I have no way to predict what any individual horse needs as ‘there are no rules, every horse is different’. I have learnt that what is obvious to me is not necessarily obvious to everyone else (funny, that!) and had assumed that if all signs of magnesium deficiency had disappeared prior to seeing any slight softening of the manure, then no-one would have any reason to continue increasing the amount of magnesium being fed. Incidentally, I have never suggested anyone feed magnesium to the point of provoking diarrhea – cowpats are for cows. I have reworded the updated magnesium article on my website so I hope this point is now clear to all.

There are a couple of other matters that need clarification.

It is my understanding that minerals are absorbed primarily through the small intestine, not the hind gut. Food is initially broken down in the stomach by a process involving hydrochloric acid and enzymes, the strong hydrochloric acid also acting as an anti-bacterial agent. The horse produces between 10 – 30 litres per day of highly acidic (pH 1) gastric juices. The resulting acidic ‘chyme’ is then delivered into the duodenum where alkaline juices from the pancreas return the chyme to a neutral pH. This is an essential part of the process as acidic fluids cannot be allowed to enter the bloodstream; blood pH (around 7.42 – 7.45 for a horse) has almost no tolerance for changes in either direction.

My thoughts about acidic drinking water were that the 30 or more litres of water consumed daily by a horse would also have to be neutralized by the horse’s body; water with a pH of 5 or 6 cannot be allowed to pass into the bloodstream. This is in addition to the burden of having to neutralize up to 30 litres of acidic gastric juices. I do not know what, if any, role magnesium plays in the entire process of neutralizing acidic stomach chyme, but given magnesium’s involvement in thousands of biochemical processes, I’m guessing there’s at least a minor role in there somewhere.

Continuing with the ‘every horse is different’ theme, I would think that Ollie and Geedubya’s horse are simply showing just how different two outwardly similar horses can be. In most instances here in Australia where horses are drinking alkaline bore water or grazing pastures growing atop chalky substrate, need for magnesium tends to be higher. Farriers working in those areas state the horses’ feet are generally worse than in other areas of the country.

We humans are also very different from each other, as illustrated by the contrast between you and I. Just a couple of months ago I myself experienced many signs of magnesium deficiency, ie lack of energy, night leg cramps, sore neck muscles, deepening facial lines, yet nothing had changed in my diet or magnesium supplementation. I eventually remembered that I had started taking a vitamin C supplement as a bit of insurance against the Australian flu season, and looked on the label to find it was providing 200mg per day of calcium from calcium ascorbate. I couldn’t believe such a tiny amount would override my magnesium intake from food and supplement but stopped the vit C anyway to see what would happen. Within 2 days my energy was back, the cramps stopped, skin cleared and neck relaxed. Still hard to believe in someone who does not drink milk and rarely eats cheese etc.

Strangely enough, my own old horse has a similar sensitivity to calcium (I sometimes wonder about these ‘co-incidences’). At 23 he has exceptionally strong bone, all the more remarkable given his history, up to age 19, of laminitis, weak feet, and Cushings. He grazed high-oxalate setaria for 8 years whilst consuming a low-calcium diet. Even a small amount of calcium from food sources or supplements quickly elicits signs of magnesium deficiency despite his daily intake of magnesium chloride. Another good example of how ‘different’ he is from other horses.

By the way, magnesium chloride is not ‘low power’. A 2001 study by Firoz & Graber ‘Bioavailability of US commercial magnesium preparations’ found that magnesium oxide does have a meager 4% bioavailability, whereas magnesium chloride was equivalent to magnesium lactate and magnesium aspartate. Mag aspartate is often referred to as the form of magnesium with the highest bioavailability. As we have discussed previously, I do not use magnesium aspartate as I do know of a couple of horses who have reacted badly (gone crazy) within minutes of being given a mag aspartate supplement. More particularly, I also know of several people who develop signs of severe magnesium deficiency when taking magnesium aspartate supplements. An advantage of magnesium chloride is that it is fully ionized, therefore not dependent on stomach efficiency for breakdown and absorption; it also contains a wide range of naturally occurring trace minerals, as does unrefined sea salt. These factors may or may not have some bearing on the consistent results from using mag chloride, and lack of negative effects that might otherwise be expected from such high rates of usage in some horses.

I no longer recommend the use of magnesium oxide, especially in large amounts, as the very poor absorption rate means there is a lot left in the gut. Magnesium oxide is alkaline and may therefore over-alkalize the gut, one of the contributing factors in enterolith formation.

I’m currently looking at a simple way of improving stomach efficiency to reduce the amount of magnesium needed by the horse, and at the same time dealing with the multiple instances of gastric ulcers in horses. Both magnesium chloride and salt are irritating to ulcerated tissue, so whilst the horse might need both, neither can be used in a horse with ulcers. Early results are excellent, with several horses halving their magnesium intake, but I need to collect more information on this before making it public.

Pauline

geedubya
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 Posted: Mon Oct 21st, 2013 05:53 pm
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Updating.  Our MaCl feeding has not been a truly controlled experiment, but - since the time we began feeding the solution, our horses diet has not changed.   The only additions to the diet were intitally a gram of bute, on vet's orders.  Also on vet's recommendation we fed a thyroid med daily.  The bute was stopped after 5 days; the thyroid med just ran out last week.  The horse had angled, wood shoe/pads glued on at the first vet visit, since then we've had two more shoeings about 6 weeks apart, with angled pads, the toes cut back some.  At the last vet check, xrays showed the coffin bone rotating back up,  hoof sole getting thicker.  Crest is still not "foamy" soft, but not rigid.  I don't know the units of measurement, but insulin has gone from over 400 to 172 as of 10/12.   Vet cleared the horse for walking and trotting work (which seemed to overjoy both the horse and my wife), and horse shows absolutely NO indication of any discomfort on the front feet.  He thinks he's ready to canter, run and buck.  We will be continuing the MaCl at present dosing, and should receive the lab reprot on minerals any day now - hoepfully I can look at Ma realtive to calcium.  Thrilled with what we view as great success feeding magnesium.

PS horse happily stands with forefeet on drum, looking quite proud of himself.

Last edited on Mon Oct 21st, 2013 05:56 pm by geedubya

geedubya
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 Posted: Fri Oct 25th, 2013 04:11 pm
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We are still happy with our horses condition, and the vet had called and said element levels were in normal range.  Yesterday we received a copy of the trace elements screen.  It shows the horse at 130 parts per million (ppm) calcium, and lists a "ref. range" of 100-130 ppm.  Magnesium is 19 ppm, within the ref. range of 18-35 ppm.  

Pauline and Dr. Deb, I have a few questions:  Are the "ref. ranges", which I assume the vet uses to determine "normal", what just "is" in Calif., or are they what "should be"?  Googling "normal trace elements for horses" did not provide any useful info.

It seems we could continue to increase the macl, but it seems that getting to a 1:2 ratio of calcium to magnesium would require huge amounts of magnesium.   Is even a 1:1 ratio a realistic target?  I figured to go slow and watch the manure and his crest as my guide.

We do not have a baseline lab report to know what the magnesium blood levels were before we started feeding the macl.  My wife commented that they must have been very low, but will the horse use what he needs, and excreet any excess?

Thanks,

George

 

Last edited on Fri Oct 25th, 2013 04:13 pm by geedubya

Pauline Moore
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 Posted: Sat Oct 26th, 2013 12:51 am
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George

Thanks for letting us know about your horse’s good progress.

Blood tests measure only the elements present in the blood which is quite different to measuring cellular levels of any element. Hyper- and hypo- calcaemia or magnesaemia refer to high or low levels of calcium or magnesium in just the blood. The body generally puts a lot of effort into maintaining blood levels of most elements within a narrow range, but as only 1% of the body’s magnesium is in blood it is possible for a blood test to show ‘normal’ levels of magnesium while the rest of the body is deficient.

Historically, magnesium has been readily available to both horse and human, hence neither ever had the need to store magnesium. Conversely, calcium was generally in short supply so ways for the body to store calcium were developed. In our modern world, the exact opposite is now the norm; magnesium is in short supply globally and calcium is over-abundant, but our bodies have not caught up to these changes in the supply-chain. This is explained simply by Nan Kathryn Fuchs PhD in her article ‘Magnesium: A Key to Calcium Absorption’ http://www.mgwater.com/calmagab.shtml

Without any way to practically test cellular levels of magnesium, the next best option available to us is to monitor each horse individually for signs of deficiency and signs of excess.

My understanding of laboratory ‘reference ranges’ is that they are a reflection of what is commonly found, not necessarily what should be considered as ‘normal’.

Pauline

Ride A Grey Horse
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 Posted: Sun Oct 27th, 2013 11:56 pm
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Pauline, this is just to report in with good news.
My horse, and a friend's horse who is his field-companion, are doing well on just 15grams x twice a day of MgCl flakes from the Zechstein seabed - the brand that you kindly recommended, that's available here in the USA, so I don't have to order it from Australia.
The visitor is an awesome mare who'd been through some unfortunate times before my friend got her. When the mare arrived she had ten or twelve of those rings around her hooves that Pete Ramey says show metabolic upset.
The new growth, since starting the magnesium three months ago, is markedly different: tight, smooth, and straight. Her owner is delighted and will start giving it to all her horses. The mare has also calmed down and is no longer high-headed - you list this too as a possible sign of Mg deficiency, though I realize it could also be due to offering her some clear (and loving) handling that's different from what she endured in her bad patch.
I had gradually increased the dose up to 45grams x twice a day, but when the manure first softened a little as you describe, I couldn't tell whose it was... so I maybe overreacted, and busted them both back down to a do-thy-patient-no-harm maintenance dose.
However, I've been adjusting the dose to 30grams x twice=a-day, for a few days, each time it rains after a dry spell and the grass in their field spikes sugar.
 I do understand from your research - and your explanation that cellular magnesium is not really measured in a blood test at all - that this is not an exact science, and that it's a matter of observing the horse and using a little informed intuition.
Thank you very much for your wonderful help.
And as always thank you Dr.Deb for attracting creative people like Pauline to your Institute to help us all help our horses.
Cynthia

Last edited on Sun Oct 27th, 2013 11:59 pm by Ride A Grey Horse

snowdenfarm
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 Posted: Mon Oct 28th, 2013 01:26 pm
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Cynthia,

Do you get the flakes in the US through Ancient Minerals?

Thanks,

Cheryl
SE PA

Last edited on Mon Oct 28th, 2013 01:35 pm by snowdenfarm

geedubya
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 Posted: Mon Oct 28th, 2013 03:29 pm
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Thank you Pauline.  I will continue to moniter his crest, manure and feet.

George

Ride A Grey Horse
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 Posted: Tue Oct 29th, 2013 12:52 am
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Yes Cheryl, exactly - Ancient Minerals. From that paleozoic seabed that I think is under today's Denmark. Very best, Cynthia

DarlingLil
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 Posted: Sat Nov 2nd, 2013 04:28 pm
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The website mgwater.com has a book by Dr.Seelig that you can read online. I believe it is called Magnesium and Disease.

geedubya
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 Posted: Thu Feb 13th, 2014 09:02 pm
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I have one more question.  It's finally rained a bit, enought to give the grass some new growth.  The horses are kept confined to a small area with very little grazing.  We have read that night-time grazing might be OK, as less sugars in the grass at night.  Is this true, and would we be taking an unnecessary chance leaving the horse out in the big pasture all night? 

AdamTill
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 Posted: Thu Feb 13th, 2014 10:49 pm
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Grasses store sugars over the course of the day which they use over the night period. As such, sugars are likely highest right at nightfall a lot of times, so turning them out right before bed is not a great plan (except maybe to avoid bugs). Turning them out in the morning is probably a better bet, or in the middle of the night lol.


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