I own Athens, a 24-year-old. 16.2-hand, 1,250-lb (565-kg) Warmblood gelding. His current diet consists of Bermudagrass pasture, 10 lb (4.5 kg) of timothy hay, 2 lb (0.9 lb) balancer pellet, and 2 lb (0.9 kg) of beet pulp. He had two laminitis episodes, with the last occurring four years ago. I am concerned about a recurrence because he is pasture-boarded, and he removes his grazing muzzle often. Your thoughts?
You are wise to take a prophylactic approach to reducing the risk of laminitis for a horse with a history of the condition. Maintaining the health of the hindgut is imperative in avoiding pasture-induced laminitis. A healthy hindgut environment has a pH of 6.5-7.0. A drop in hindgut pH occurs after the overconsumption of fructan-rich grass, especially in horses that have not been acclimatized to the forage, and may set the stage for events that lead to laminitis. Reducing and counteracting the drop in pH can be done with a hindgut buffer that raises the pH and reduces acidity.
Kentucky Equine Research (KER) developed the only hindgut supplement that uses time-released, encapsulation technology to deliver a buffer (sodium bicarbonate) to the hindgut. The buffering effects of EquiShure help to maintain the health of the intestinal microbiota for proper fermentation. Supplementation of EquiShure for horses prone to laminitis is highly recommended at all times, but especially when there is grass consumption. EquiShure should be fed twice daily to continuously buffer to the hindgut. For a large warmblood like Athens, I recommend working up to a dose of 3-4 scoops (90-120 g) daily. EquiShure is a powdered product that can be mixed with water or oil (fish oil) to help it stick to the pellets.
I explicitly mentioned fish oil because of the proven benefits of two specific omega-3 fatty acids, DHA and EPA. EO•3, another product developed by KER, is a fish oil that has been shown to improve glucose tolerance and reduce inflammation in horses with metabolic concerns.
Also be sure to check out these tips for fitting muzzles.
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