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Angelexy
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Hello Dr Deb - I have a question  regarding hormonal influences on mares in relation to their birdies.

Just to give a very brief background about me - Via Jenny Patterson and Horsemanship NZ I have thoroughly enjoyed auditing two of your South Island, NZ clinics, your Birdie DVD is in my opinion brilliant and I try to soak up as much of your wonderful website as I possibly can.  I have been lucky enough to ride at one of Buck Brannaman's clinics here in NZ so far, with another one coming up in January 2010 which will be fantastic !  I won't waffle on anymore - but I felt I needed to say I am at the very least on the same planet in terms of trying to be the best teacher I can be (with help) to my horse, while still realising I have a long long long way to go!  (All aspects of potential grass issues affecting my horse have been dealt with via Jenny Patterson)

I have a particularly winky/squirty 7 yr old crossbred mare who is an absolute dream in so many respects and I feel that we are forming a great connection.  However, on several occasions she has been incredibly affected (in the winky/squirty department) by mere geldings (who are not even interested in her in that way) and other mares who are not remotely mare-ish. 

When this happens, It seems that no matter what amount/type of ground work I try to do with her to get her to re-connect with me will work.  I am not interested in getting on her as she looks like she will pop out from underneath me! - the best solution I can usually come up with is to  take her away from the horse(s) affecting her and tie her up with a hay net for the day which leaves me with nothing to play with or ride.  She is normally very gentle, friendly, does not like to burst my bubble and loves being scratched, her tail is one of her favourite spots - but at certain times, she even squirts/winks at me!!!!?

Can the hormones over-ride our birdie progress or do we just not have the connection I think we do!?

Your thoughts, ideas etc would be greatly appreciated.

Regards Angie

 

Pauline Moore
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Hello Angie

It's great that you are managing your mare's diet in regard to pasture sugars and starches, but I'm just wondering if there is anything you are feeding that may be having a hormonal influence on your mare. 

Many low-sugar horse feeds contain phytoestrogens that can have a strong effect on hormones in much the same way that the coumestan content of lucerne can adversely affect behaviour in all genders, even when sugar content is very low.  Some examples of this are black sunflower seeds and sunflower oil, flax seed and flax oil, and even some popular herbal supplements such as chamomile (refer Dr Peter Eckhart).

I used to recommend black sunflower seeds as a good low-sugar and low-starch feed but was often puzzled when people reported that their horses became 'hot' or 'spooky' - now I understand that it is the phytoestrogen content that was causing a problem.

Horses consuming phytoestrogens will often display similar behaviour changes to those consuming high sugar/starch diets - it's often hard to tell which is the offending substance in any individual horse, each will respond a little differently.

If you are sure your mare is not eating anything that could contain significant amounts of phytoestrogens, then I would suggest you try using the spice vitex agnus castus (chastetree berry) - very many mare owners will testify that this prevents the type of changes you are reporting, their mares are the same sweet horses all year round.

It is certainly much more difficult to keep the horse's 'birdie' when they are challenged with chemical changes within their bodies, but we can make things as easy as possible for the horse by trying to eliminate some of those changes.

Best wishes - Pauline

Angelexy
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Hello Pauline

Thankyou for your informative reply.

I feed my horses sugar beet , plain oat chaff and as much hay as they need.

Plus they get a NZ Mineral suppliment designed specifically for our soil here (which is lacking in selenium and boron to name but a few trace minerals) which they get daily along with a Magnesium suppliment and a 'tox-defy' suppliment which helps combat endophytes in the grass when we have particularly flush grass growth spurts - mainly spring and autumn. 

The sugar beet product I use is called Speedi Beet - which is dried out slivers of sugar beet that need to be soaked in water at least 15minutes before they go all soft and expand making them palatable for the horse.  I am now in the process (after your reply) of finding out whether this contains phytoestrogens...... it is totally recommended for laminitis prone animals and very high in fibre - unfortunately I threw the empty bag away so  that's the best I can explain just right now.

Luckily my horses are not on highly fertilised rye/clover grass (or typical NZ dairy cow pasture)....but we do put lime on thier paddocks after soil testing each year.

I have tried a product called Steady Mare - which contains Chaste tree, chamomile and vervain - which did not seem to make a huge difference - but I am now wondering if in fact phytoestrogens from perhaps the speedi beet would overide any benefit from the steady mare!?

Other thoughts I have had in the hormonal mare department was whether putting her in foal would help!?  Not that I am particularly wanting to breed from her or any horse for that matter...but would the hormones settle down?  Spaying?....not too impressed by the latter as it seems too drastic and too invasive!

I have even heard of people getting of all things a marble inserted/stitched? into the uterus? (sorry, not sure of the facts exactly) and this simulates pregnancy for the mare!?

Anyway - thankyou for your reply and I will definitely check the phytoestrogen situation.

 

Regards Angie

kindredspirit
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This is of no help to Angie, but it prompts me to ask a somewhat related question about geldings.  I have a gelding that Harry Whitney has worked with on 2 separate occasions and he says this horse is a puzzle to him. Rare to hear that from Harry since he seems to get to the heart of the matter with any horse he spends time with.  His puzzlement led him to ask me if I had ever had a hormone panel run on this horse.  I have not.

Has anyone ever done this on a gelding?  He does not have studish behavior or physical charactistics.  He is extremely sensitive to touch and reactive.  While I can say has hugely improved in this department in the past year it is still an issue.

Thanks in advance,

Kathy

 

Angelexy
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Hello Again

It would never have occured to me to check hormone levels in a gelding - I would be interested to hear what happens!

I have been busy reading up on Phytoestrogens and it has been quite an eye opener on just how many foods there are that contain phytoestrogens.  For example, soy beans, tofu, tempeh, linseed  (flax), seasame seeds, wheat, berries, oats, barley, lentils, rice, apples, carrots, wheat germ, mung beans and the list goes on....

The conculsion I have come to so far from what I have read in relation to what I feed my mare is that the oat levels in my oat chaff seem rather insignifcant to affect her.....you would be lucky to spot them in the feed half the time!  The only other suppliments she gets mention nothing about phytoestrogens on the label, but I have sent a message to the supplier to confirm this.

She does get apples/carrots - but not in huge quantities.  The grass she is on is NZ cocksfoot/brown top - which is ideal horse grass!

At what point do the suppliments I give her (or any horse) medle or interfere with natural metabolism/vitamin/hormone levels? - I can't recall the exact facts and whether they were scientific facts or not, but I remember reading somewhere that if you have too much calcium for example in the diet it reduces the absorption of magnesium. 

Is it my suppliments making her hormonal!?  However, the supplier of my suppliments completely advocates the fact that they are all designed to compliment each other based on scientific research and NZ soil types. 

I guess my next plan of attack would be to completely stop the suppliments altogether and get some bloods done to check where she is at and start from scratch!? This would be rather than my previous posts radical ideas.......

Any other ideas/suggestions would be appreciated.

Regards Angie

Pauline Moore
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Hello Angie - I had a feeling this was going to turn into a complicated discussion!

I've had a quick look at the possibility of phytoestrogen content of sugar beets but so far haven't found anything conclusive - some sources indicate phytoestrogens are present, others say only in the leaves, others say none present.  I have used the product you mentioned but did not see any great benefit - by the time I'd soaked then rinsed it two or three times to get rid of all the brown colouring (sugar) there seemed little nutritional value in what was left beyond fibre.  I'm assuming you are also rinsing well to eliminate the dissolved sugars?

I agree with you that there is likely to be little effect from any phytoestrogens in the few grains in your oat chaff but would like to say that sugar content of oat chaff can vary considerably from very low to very high.  I also use oat chaff only because it is the lesser of two evils, it's either that or lucerne chaff in my area, but I'm always watchful for any changes in temperament with each new batch.

In my experience, the mineral supplements you are using should not be having any effect on your mare's hormones.  If you are using Jenny Patterson's products, they are all excellent and will be doing a good job in helping to protect your horse from any excessive pasture sugars.

It would probably be worthwhile to have your vet do blood hormone tests on your mare to check if there is something unusual in her own hormone ratios.  Any estrogenic effect from plant phytoestrogens will not show in a blood test as it is only the mare's own hormones that can be identified and measured.  Although very many plants contain phytoestrogens (as you have discovered) not all are strong enough to be of any concern and not all horses will react the same way to any given substance.  It is also unlikely that supplement manufacturers will be aware of the phytoestrogen content of their product, and will be unable to quantify what is there, the natural variation within each plant is too great.

If this were my horse, I would experiment with changing the sugarbeet feed for some other feed (I have had excellent results for years with copra, I know this has had some bad press in NZ but if you would like some more info on it, please contact me privately via the email address on the member's profile page) - this would at least give you certainty about the product you are currently using.

I would also try chastretree berry as a separate item.  I couldn't find how much is in the product you mentioned (which also has chamomile) and whether it is still in the whole-berry form.  Chastetree berries are like hard black peppercorns and must be ground in a spice/coffee grinder, preferably daily - there is little benefit in feeding the whole unground berry.

Best wishes - Pauline



Pauline Moore
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Hello Kathy

The sensitivity to touch your gelding displays can occur as a consequence of a high sugar diet as well as a reaction to any phytoestrogens in his diet, or it could be something else entirely.  As I mentioned to Angie, it is frequently difficult to tell what is causing the reaction.

A hormone blood test will only measure your gelding's own hormones so will likely show as normal.  Strong phytoestrogens such as the coumestan found in lucerne/alfalfa will affect geldings and stallions in just the same way as mares, but each horse will be a little different in how that reaction manifests.  Mares, geldings and stallions may all show one or more of a range of signs that their biochemistry is not right - spookiness, aggression, dislike of being touched or groomed, lack of focus, overly attached to paddock mates, etc etc, it's a long list. 

With any ongoing puzzling behaviour, I would first look for the simple answers - what is the horse eating?  Do you feed anything that has a sugar base, i.e. sweetfeeds, molasses, alfalfa, grain?

Best wishes - Pauline

Last edited on Tue Oct 27th, 2009 03:24 am by Pauline Moore

DrDeb
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Pauline, your suggestion that Angie have bloodwork done to check the mare's innate estrogen levels is sound advice. I think it will be difficult to get feed or supplement effects separated out unless this is done as a first step.

It is possible that this horse has cystic ovaries, is genetically a hermaphrodite or partial hermaphrodite, or has some other metabolic problem that is the real underlying issue.

So Angie, you should have a consult with your vet -- what he or she will probably tell you is that blood will need to be drawn (1) when the mare is feeling just OK, normal and pleasant and focusable, and (2) when she is exhibiting intense signs of heat.

Also Angie, I want to tell you that you are absolutely wise to stay off of her anytime, for whatever reason, she can't focus on her work. Because when a horse can't focus on their work, they also will tend to forget that you're up there. I describe this, when I have tried to ride a horse in this condition, as that the horse feels 'hollow' to me. My elderly teacher frequently mentioned to us, and also mentions in "True Unity", that until and unless the horse feels "solid" (i.e. not "hollow"), that he would be very reluctant to get on. Word from the wise, there. -- Dr. Deb

 

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Pauline,

Thank you for your reply.  He some whole oats and 1/2 cup of flax seed, the rest is all forage or forage based (timothy balance cubes). 

Kathy

Jineen Walker
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Pauline

For give me for asking you to repeat yourself, you and I went over some ingredients in a previous post a while ago in regards to one of my horses acting this way, but the post is gone, and I am still working on with it.

Alfalfa are lucerne the same, yes? And why do people recommend feeding horses  alfalfa or clover, if it causes such a problem, or is it individually specific? How much phytoestrogens is needed to cause a problem in alfalfa or wheat middlings?

And, Angelexy, the list you provided, does it refer to horse or human, and if not horse, does Dr. Debs poisionious plant book refer to these?

One of my main concerns is keeping weight on a 30yr.old.

Thankyou, Jineen


Marne
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I KNOW that I am NOT even close to knowing what you all know here but I also have a 30 year old horse and feed him Purina Equine SR along with EQUA-Jewel and all the grass when in season he can find in his paddock and grass hay in the winter...  He quids as to be expected  ( yes i have a competent vet check and do his teeth regularily) but my vet said even if he can't get much or any hay down teh saliva from chewing it will aid his digestion. 

It is working very well here in cold WI as last winter after recovering from a nearly fatal flu the winter before, ( Vet warned me at the time that he didn't think he would make another winter...but good thing the horse didn't seem to know the vet said so) he gained WT to now look like a young horse again. He held his WT easily all summer and when ridden has the pep and stamina of a much younger horse.

I checked with a local horse nutritionist and she said this feed was very good and that it is often used for horses that need low sugar diets and was a good choice for him... so I have felt comfortable using it and had good results in my situation.

Not trying to tell anybody what is right or wrong here but just giving a possible suggestion to try if you need another choice to keep your 30 yr old with enough WT. 

If I am out line in suggesting this  please disregard this...just trying help as this has worked so well for us including the 32 year old we lost recently due to just plain old age.

Marne

DrDeb
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Jineen, "lucerne" is the term used in Britain and the British Commonwealth countries for "alfalfa". They call it that because when the British first obtained the plant, it was shipped to them from Lucerne, Switzerland. The American "al-falfa" comes via Spanish from an Arabic phrase meaning, "good feed."

Jineen and Marne, you both have old horses. The first thing to make sure of in this case is that their teeth/mouth/gums are not hurting them. Their breath should smell sweet. If it smells sour or worse, there is probably abscessing and/or infection in the tooth sockets and along the gums. This needs to be treated, and teeth that are very loose need to be removed. If the horse has welded some of the sockets, so that in fact he has essentially a "pseudotooth" which is mostly made of cementum, the cementum will wear into sharp points much quicker than the normal tooth materials enamel and dentine will, and so you must make arrangements for these horses to be seen by a competent equine dental practitioner at least once per year. If the horse suddenly starts dropping weight, this would be the very first thing I would check.

As to feeding them: Marne, you've got your information garbled. Purina Senior is STUFFED with excess sugars. It's working for you only because your horse is "low" and giving him sugars peps him up. But at the same time if he has any tendency for insulin resistance and/or Cushing's syndrome, it's the worst thing in the world for him.

What you want to do for the old horse is two things. You don't need to worry too much about excessive phytoestrogens UNLESS the horse shows you by becoming nuts that they are bothering him. So, Jineen, since your old guy IS nuts and has a history of being nuts, I would get him off of alfalfa absolutely. Marne, you'll have to look at your horse since I haven't met him and decide, on the basis of how much alfalfa he has previously been getting, whether you can continue on that amount. Alfalfa leaf is a mainstay of toothless old horses, because it is highly nutritious and packed with calories, and yet almost melts in their mouth so they can swallow leaf without having to worry about chewing it. This is why old horses that you give alfalfa to will knock it around with their head -- they are trying to winnow the leaf off of it. Then they vacuum up the leaf, every single last tiny bit, but they leave the stems. Or they may take some stems into their mouths, mumble them around and suck on them, and then spit out a ball of stems as a "quid". You will know they are doing this by finding the balls all around their stall or pen.

Other than alfalfa leaf, what you need to look for is pelleted hay. NOT hay cubes, which are highly dangerous to toothless or maloccluding horses. It has to be pellets -- looks like rabbit food. There should be not more than a tiny amount of molasses in this feed -- they sometimes need to use a little molasses, or else a little wax, as a "binder" so that they don't get the pellets breaking up excessively into powder during bagging and shipping. Wax won't hurt them and neither will a SMALL amount of molasses, i.e. less than 2%. But Purina makes a lot of money by adding huge amounts of molasses and/or high-fructan sugars, because they make the bag SMELL GOOD TO THE PURCHASER. If you can smell their bag all the way across the feedstore from when you come in the door, they figure you'll go straight to their product. And they have been proven correct in the market.

When you speak to the county Ag. nutritionist/extension agent, you need to be aware of where he or she is coming from. Most likely they are coming from the brochures sent to them by various companies, and/or they are coming from what they heard a paid representative of same company tell them during a Power Point presentation at the last university-sponsored convention they went to. Same goes for buying seed: the seed companies, followed by the ag. advisors, follow what they are fed by Universities that hold patents on various so-called "improved" seed. The "best seed mix" will certainly fatten cows. It will also (if it contains fescue or other grasses that contain mycotoxins) founder your horse, and (if it contains clover in any form) will overfatten him. You cannot feed a horse like a cow, and you cannot safely or economically pasture a horse on the same ground as a cow.

As a horse gets pretty old and ceases to be able to chew food with his own teeth, to keep him alive we need to give him the pelleted hay because that is the only form of hay which he can ingest. He cannot actually swallow anything growing in your pasture. When he's out there, he's quidding just as he does in the stall. So you let him out there, and that's because he has to have a life like a horse, but you don't figure that the pasture is feeding him. Look around in your local area for a mill that is producing a pelleted hay product, ask them specific questions about their manufacturing procedure, see if you can buy the stuff in bulk by having them load it straight into your own barrels, and then protect the barrels absolutely from moisture because you don't want it going moldy before the horses can eat it. This is the best and most economical way to get hay -- that is grass, which is what horses are supposed to eat -- into the old horse.

Beyond this, if you want to give a little boost to the coat and/or up the total digestible nutrients, you can supplement with as much as 1/2 cup of oil daily. You can use any type of oil; for this type of quantity you are going to want to comparison shop. What is important is that the oil not be permitted to go rancid. So you must keep the oil under refrigeration and you must keep it in an airtight container, and even then, before you feed it every day you dip your finger in and taste it and smell it to be certain that it is not rancid.

Jineen, as you get your old gelding off of the alfalfa do let us know if any of the nuttiness problems you've had with him over the years diminish. I bet they will. -- Dr. Deb

 

Marne
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This is very interesting...thank you for taking the time to tell me this.

I have never been able to feed this horse alfalfa...and believe me  we have some good stuff here as we dairy so we keep good stuff for those cows as you know cows milk well on the stuff.  He would get very high and also VERY sore in the kidney area...so I talked my Dh into planting GRASS for the horses... Now that is a pretty good trick to get a cow man to plant grass just for a horse but he liked Sam also and he did get pretty tired of trying to find and buy GOOD dust free non moldy grass hay ...so i got a field just for the horses!.

Sam came from a stable in the cities where they fed lots of grain and a few flakes of alfalfa hay...rabbit hay as we call it here and so i had to adapt him to be able to eat lots of hay and little grain which was much better for him.  It took time but he did adapt and i did learn he could tolerate no alfalfa.  He is an egyptian Arab...the old race bred type...a Talal son, and i suspect the reason i was able to purchase him so reasonably was he was a bit of a temperment problem and i suspect he had also been reacting to bad saddle fit as when we finally got Dave Genedek to make him a saddle that fit his back he was one good happy horse.  You can ask Dave about him if your interested...there is a story behind this horse.

His teeth are taken care of regularily by my vet...and he has done a great job of keeping him happy and healthy alll these years...so i know that it is just old age and teeth wearing out for his quiding.....  no he doesn't have bad breath either!

He is quite a handful to ride now so THAT could explain that easily...jsut assummed that he felt good cuz he is an ARAB and always has been quite high energy..and i did question that it was the feed and did ask as i WAS concerned about Cushings as it seemed to be to be a LOT of molasses smell...(so far he is fine without Cushings ...BUT was assurred that it was WHAT they used for said condition ( hmm ...this is pretty nice to be told such stuff in error)  so this is interesting to me and i will try to find a good source of grass pelletted hay...i know they make cubes from grass...but ruled them out a long time ago for the very reasons you said...just couldn't make them mushy enough fro him.  the Equine SR feed has been what saved his life when he was so sick so I guess i can be thankful for that...

I have tried to feed him oil in the past...and no i would NOT feed him rancid oil...i know all about that too...but it always went right thru him for some reason...vet can't explain it either...

So this is what i am thinking i can do...Slowly switch him over to pelleted grass hay if i can find some here...and do this carfeully so  i can keep his WT up( it is winter here now and can't risk him dropping WT)  and continue to give him a little bit of equine SR to get the EQUI-Jewel inot him ( it a rice fat feed suppliment balanced for grass hay with calcium)

Thankyou again for your time and caring answer

Marne


DrDeb
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Marne, several points:

-- Rice hulls are full of oil, that's the main reason to feed them. They do the same thing as vegetable oil. So if he will eat and can digestively tolerate the rice hulls, then go ahead with that.

-- The reason to rule out cubes, in other words why hay cubes are dangerous to horses that can no longer chew their food very well due to missing and/or malocclusive teeth is not that they "can't be made mushy enough." The horse does not need his food mushy, and you do not need to wet down anything you feed him unless it is excessively dusty and/or he has breathing problems. What he needs is that the size of the particles that make up whatever he comes to SWALLOW be no larger than 1/4" long. Many of the particles that make up hay cubes are in the 3/4ths to 2-inch range, just the right length so that he could and probably would swallow them, but because they are swallowed without thorough chewing, they're also just the right size to cause an intestinal impaction/impactive type colic. So the reason you need pelleted feed is that pellets are made after the hay has been through a hammer-mill, which essentially does the job that the horse's teeth can no longer do: they break all the hay down into particles the size of corn-meal. That is the size of particles that makes up the bolus (the wad of food that is actually swallowed) in a young horse whose teeth work great.

-- It does not surprise me that the horse's behavior and rideability (pleasantness for the rider) improved after you got a saddle that actually fits him.

-- You should not assume that "Arabs are just high strung." Arabs are not, in fact, particularly high strung. Neither are TB's or any other horse. When horses ACT high strung it is their way of TRYING TO TELL YOU SOMETHING. NEVER EVER accept that any horse is "just that way"!!!!

ALL horses want to be calm, to have inner peace and equanimity, at all times. But if they are jazzed on phytoestrogens, excessive carbohydrates, excessive TDN's, or by irritation from any source, i.e. ill-fitting tack, mycotoxins, inflammation of the lining of the gut tube, then it will be hard for them to find that -- you and the horse both will be working uphill.

When the horse is jazzed, I think you can expect them to be jumpy, hyper-reactive, and/or grumpy. WHENEVER you find that a horse acts this way, NEVER ASSUME THAT IS JUST THE WAY HE IS. Especially if the jumpiness/craziness represents a change over previous calmer reactivity.

You are doing what you should be doing for this old guy, and I am pleased that you're going to the effort to ask questions, consider options, and make changes. And my hat is off to your husband for helping you to develop pasturage that is appropriate for horses.

One other thing I want you to do: go read all your feedbags, supplement containers, and/or hay analyses, and find out what the magnesium and boron content of anything you're feeding him is. And give your county ag. extension agent a call, and ask them whether it is possible for you to have your soil tested for magnesium and boron level. There is good evidence that magnesium deficiency in horses can contribute to Cushing's, insulin resistance/equine "diabetes", and hyper-reactivity. Boron is also involved. IF you have evidence for low magnesium and boron levels, then you have reason to supplement; or if you have clear symptoms of Cushing's or insulin resistance, then I would say you were justified in trying a magnesium supplement. -- Dr. Deb

 

 

Jineen Walker
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Thanks for your reply, Dr. Deb, I thought you would be too busy with your clinic to answer. 

My 30 yr old hasn't ever had problems with any kind of food that seems to stand out too much in my memory. He can eat leaf hay just fine, no quidding, total clean up, but I was concerned that he wasn't getting enough to keep weight on with hay alone so I thought I would give him a supplement to add weight and vitamins. He refuses oil. I'll have to separate him so he can eat as he needs. At the moment the alfalfa pellet I can get him looks like shredded leaf compacted.

Of the 5 horses I have, 3 seem to have no problem big enough to worry about( nothing as severe as the other 2).
As you know my turnouts to have clover, oak and whatever to deal with.

But the other 2, one 20, who didn't make it into class with you, and the gray arab 7, I've had problems.
Last year we were talking about sugar reaction of the gray not liking to be brushed, and bolting. Worse when not exercised, better all around when fed a magnesium supplement. You saw him at his absolute best-never had been with that many horses.

Thank you for telling me that the other horse is nuts, it helps relieve the frustration of lots of reactions, behaviors and issues that just never made sense.

 I always bought rich 2nd cut, and that would energize him, so I couldn't feed all he could eat. For his long term problems, last year I put him on beet pulp with oil to add fiber and slow digestion, and had him on magnesium all winter long and he was the worst, most insane ever, and lost weight. 
I don't remember when I stopped the beet pulp and went back to forage extender and magnesium, but I watched him all spring/summer go up and down with excess energy, but was better than the winter, back to his normal hyper-active self.  He also was pulling his front shoes all the time, and I had to make adjustments there, so I know that his diet was wrong with his turnout.

I watched like a hawk this year as to limited time out, as they were never on the clover before( I didn't know before that it was bad for them, I'll get rid of it in the spring) and feeding magnesium and a mycotoxin binder to combat excess sugars in whatever they found. It was very noticeable for the two if I left them out too long or forgot the magnesium.


The most problem I saw in his behavior during the spring/summer was when he was hungry-empty stomach (also his normal behavior) I called it a sugar crash  which also meant that he was too high to get so low between feedings.

I was feeding a forage extender so I could add a vitamin supplement, mycotoxin binder and oil, and here is where the other problem seems to lie.
I have been feeding him  2lbs a day with oil. He's the same old hyper self. It got cold the other day, so I decided to add more extender, only about 1/2-1lb. He was back to total insanity like the previous winter.
So the ingredients are alfalfa, wheat middlings, molasses (which recently they took out to add flavoring and sweetener). I called the company and they told me that their alfafa wasn't lucerne, and that they wouldn't use that-isn't that funny-

This year I was able to get a lower sugar content hay that I can put in front of him, and when his belly is full he acts sedated. He still has behavioral issues, but not the hyper attention/reaction.

I really wish I had spoken up about this horse more clearly sooner with you, instead of tentatively asking here and there and trying to figure it out, just figuring I was wrong. Your right, he is nuts!But o'boy-I'm his and he let's me know it! May the next 20 years with him will be do-able, not barely tolerable. Once I get this sugar thing under control for a few months, we can work on the behavioral.

Thanks a lot, Jineen





Marne
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WE have tested our ground here for those elements and they were not an issue here.

thanks again for the idea.  Marne

Jineen Walker
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Hi Dr. Deb

I need to know how much to feed and where to get boron. They laughed when I inquired at the supplement store-. As to the magnesium I was feeding, I just followed the label directions. For the new hay crop I was told to increase zinc. Selenium is low in New England as well.
Here's the real question: instead of me relying on the reading of the hay analysis taken from the feed store rep so that he can sell me the complementary grain,  how do I read it myself so that I can supplement accordingly?

Thank you, Jineen

Jineen Walker
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Dr. Deb

Just talked to my hay analysist. He said  he hadn't tested for zinc.
He said that his Forage Extender would come in at about 6% for starch, sugars and carbs.(per lb) So would his carb-safe grain, made for insulin resistant horses.

The new hay I have would come in about 4% with 9.2 protein,and last yrs hay that I still feed about 5lbs a day has twice as much simple sugars, 1/3 more carbs. and 20.4 protein.
Jineen

Pauline Moore
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Hello Jineen

There is nothing unusual about one or two horses in a group being very sensitive to sugars and/or phytoestrogens that do not affect the other horses.  I still have two aged TBs - the 25 yr old is an easy-keeper and has always been able to eat anything with no change to his temperament; oats by the bucketful, fresh grass, bright green lucerne - nothing bothers him and he still does not need magnesium or other supplements.  The other horse is 20, has Cushings syndrome, very hard to keep weight on and is extremely sensitive to sugars - he needs magnesium and all the other supplements I've mentioned previously.  It's just the luck of the draw in the same way that some people are more able to tolerate dietary sugars than others.

When you were feeding the beet pulp to your 20 yr old, did you soak and rinse several times until the rinse water was completely clear?  Any remaining brown colouring in the water indicates that excess sugars are still present.  Also, what oil were you using?  If it was plain vegetable oil, there is a good chance it was soy based and may therefore have carried some phyotestrogens.  You've already worked out that the forage extender caused problems because of its alfalfa content together with the added sweeteners.  There are several products on sale in this country, marketed for IR/Cushings horses, with low NSC of around 6% - I would not use any of them for my Cushings horse as they have substituted high sugar material with high phytoestrogen material from soy or sunflower seed.  Relying on feed analyses can be misleading, it's not that simple, we really have to go for a lot of trial and error with each individual horse to see what best suits that particular horse.

It might also be worth checking what form of magnesium you are using.  Most horses will respond well to plain magnesium oxide even though it is not well absorbed but some horses need the chelated form which is much more highly bio-available.

Best wishes - Pauline


Jineen Walker
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Hi Pauline

Thanks for your input. No, I didn't rinse the beet pulp clear-it didn't have a lot of color, or so I thought, so I got lazy with rinsing, and just soaked it.
The magnesium supplement has both oxide and chelated.

Another thought I was having in regards to my hay, is that I am in a depleted soil are for selenium. As I hunt to find that as a supplement, I have to realize that lack of selenium might play a part in Trey not liking to be brushed. I had been feeding a vitamin/mineral supplement over the past few years, and as I study the ingredients and amounts, I realize that he was getting too little of that.  I had a horse tie up many years ago, so that may be a factor. So I am off to hunt, and hopefully not over supplement, but you can't buy just one ingredient. Any suggestions would be appreciated.

  Thank you, Jineen

DrDeb
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Jineen, selenium supplements are easy to find -- just talk to your vet. If you really have selenium-deficient soils in your area, the veterinarian will know all about it because all the cows in the area will need a selenium drench before they calve. Your vet will be able to direct you to a variety of products, some that are just selenium, some where the selenium is mixed into either a bag of feed or into a salt block.

You need to be sure what you really are responding to by supplementing with anything, but especially with selenium because a small overdose is toxic. What I mean is, it does not matter much what YOUR OWN soil is like if the horses are getting 50% or more of their food from hay or alfalfa that is grown SOMEWHERE ELSE. Then what you have to concern yourself with is whether the hay or alfalfa is low-selenium; or else go find the very field in which your bales were grown, and have THAT soil tested.

A horse that eats hay is as good as standing on the other person's property.

Let me caution you once again against running around trying to buy ingredients one at a time in order to respond, as you think, to this or that "behavior" in your horses. While it is true that a properly balanced diet, including adequate levels of all minerals, is an aid in promoting tractability and calmness, changing the diet will not solve all or even most of your problems.

Further, Jineen, if you are trying to buy a little bit of this and a little bit of that to make your own supplement-mix, you'll never make it. It's a hobby, dear, and one in which any sane person will quickly lose interest. What you do instead is talk to your veterinarian, ask them what other people in your neighborhood are feeding. Ask the vet where the barn is locally that has the horses he finds the easiest to work with. Find out what they are feeding -- then feed that.

Once again: horses eat two things -- grass and water. They also need a red-mineral block, i.e. the one with NaCl plus a variety of trace minerals balanced for your part of the country, which can be bought at any feed store. Make sure your horse does lick the block so that you see it visibly get smaller every day. If he doesn't, then buy small blocks and break them up with a hammer and feed the resulting powdered salt-mineral mix on top of the hay to encourage the horse to eat it. Provide plenty of water.

As to grass, make sure you know what the species is so that the grass you are feeding is non-poisonous.

Go light on alfalfa, or, for some horses, none at all.

If you have insulin-resistant, founder-prone, obese, or Cushing's horses, soak any sugary greenstuff, i.e. beet pulp, cereal hay, or sweet grass hay, in water for from 30 minutes to 2 hrs. -- until the water turns the color of coca-cola.

For horses with maloccluding or absent teeth, who cannot chew their food and/or who are quidding, feed pelleted (not cubed) hay with the least amount of molasses or wax binder or none.

Once these things have been done, you will have done a workmanlike job of feeding your animals. Then, if they still have so-called "behavioral" problems, you address those by working to get the horse 100% OK on the inside, as explained in The Birdie Book. What did you think, Jineen, at the clinic, when I was so hard on that girl with the Paint horse from Pennsylvania? Did you think I was doing that because I disliked her? I don't dislike her or anybody else. She came to that clinic in order to SHOW how good her horse could PERFORM -- before she had taken care of a lot of the underlying unease in the animal. And then when I showed her "this is how you really do it" she did not like to admit to having gotten off-course. Remember how her horse went to sleep after I had handled him a few minutes?

So I want your National Show Horse gelding to be able to go to sleep, too -- in other words to be able to completely relax when you are handling or riding him. No amount of dietary alteration can ever produce this; only learning how to do it will help. -- Dr. Deb

 

SuziQ
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Could I please ask at what age you would consider feeding Chaste berry to a horse? I have an 18 month filly who comes into season regularly and is very winky/squirty with it and also seems 'stiffer' in her back legs (I say that tentatively as her movement is full but she seems more reluctant to move). I have had the vet check her and he is monitoring her with consideration to possible cystic ovaries but is mainly putting her reaction to the season down as part of 'just developing hormones'. Feeding-wise I have cut out all lucerne (which she was put on without my knowledge by a 'well-meaning' friend!) and she is only being fed hay and a small amount of yearling mix over winter which has the least amount of molassess, soya, and lucerne that I could find.

I was wondering if a chaste berry supplement would be helpful at this age?

Thanks for all your input

Pauline Moore
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Hello Suzi - I would be reluctant to give any medicinal herb to such a young horse without the full agreement and involvement of the vet who is monitoring her.   Chastetree berry has an effect on the pituitary gland which governs many body systems - I have not seen any reports, positive or negative, indicating its use for still-growing horses; the closest I've seen are anecdotal reports of it being used to eliminate severe acne in teenage boys.  If your vet agrees, you could possibly try it for one or two heat cycles to assist with reaching a conclusive diagnosis.

If it turns out that cystic ovaries are not the problem, it might be worth trying to find a veterinary herbalist whom you could consult.  Where do you live?

What type of pasture does your filly eat?  What type of hay are you feeding?

Best wishes - Pauline


SuziQ
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Hi Pauline, thanks for getting back to me. I'm in Southern England - Surrey. She is on a clover grass and a timothy hay, as good as we can get it. I have just made the decision to move her to a different yard which is calmer and quieter with more space and a few more youngsters as I am wondering if the energy of the one of the humans who looks after her might be exacerbating the situation. Not quite sure how that works physiologically or whether it is purely a mental thing on both parts but she seems much worse around her. So I think I will monitor her for a few cycles until she's settled and then talk to the vet about the chasteberry.

Thank you!

Pauline Moore
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Suzi - You could try cutting out the clover grass, this is as bad as lucerne in terms of potential for disrupting hormones.  Good luck with your yard change, if this also means a change of pasture to one that doesn't have clover your problem may be solved.  Please let us know the outcome.

Best wishes - Pauline

warren
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RICE HULLS

I am told that in the Philippines, horse owners feed their horses large quantities of rice hulls.  It seems they substitute rice hulls for beet pulp or oats.  In addition, I am trying to determine if, in the Philippines, farmers grow hay....or do horse owners just allow horses to graze on sugar loaded, green grass for endless hours?

Any information, advice or comments most welcome.

DrDeb
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Warren, rice hulls are also available as a horse feed supplement in this country. They are used for two purposes:

1. To increase the percentage of structural carbohydrates in the diet, i.e. to increase what is commonly called the 'roughage'

2. To improve the coat, and/or to help the horse gain or maintain weight, because in many cases rice hulls have a lot of oil.

I am not at all up on what horse feeds are grown or commonly fed in the Philippines, and I am not sure we have anyone reading here who is from that area. I myself would be interested in any responses from people knowledgeable or familiar with it. Also: I'm interested in learning more about horse feeding practices in tropical countries generally, and throughout Africa and Asia -- world areas that we know less about. -- Dr. Deb

warren
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Thank you!  I had not been aware of rice hulls being fed in this country.  I have a young student of agricultural science in the Philippines researching these issues for me.  So far, it seems that farmers grow very little hay since abundant grass exists all year around....so much sugar!




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