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  • Q:

    I own a five-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding; he’s 16.1 hands (165 cm) and in moderate body condition. We spend some of our time working on low-level dressage, but I do plenty of trail-riding with him, too. He consumes no pasture but is turned out into a drylot 4-8 hours a day. His daily diet consists of 20 lb (9 kg) of hay and 2 lb (0.9 kg) of low-starch feed. He has subtle signs of digestive trouble—slow to eat hay, intermittent loose manure, sunken-in flanks—even after a month-long course of prescription omeprazole and daily gastric support subsequently. Other factors that I suspect contribute to his digestive problems include his dam’s chronic and fatal colic history, recent vaccine reaction resulting in nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug use, and multiple parasite burdens treated earlier in life. Fecal albumin tests have turned up positive, which makes me think a hindgut problem is present. What are your thoughts on adding EquiShure?

  • A:

    Several of the historical events you mentioned are red flags for digestive issues. However, there are many diseases that damage cells of the digestive tract and create inflammation. To help identify the cause of his problem, some diagnostic work can be done by your veterinarian.

    Have you had the albumin levels in his blood tested? Measuring albumin would help determine if he has normal protein levels. In some horses, the mucosa of the intestinal wall becomes “leaky,” allowing protein to escape into the digestive tract. The loose manure could potentially be due to the presence of this protein in the gut, which allows excess water into the digestive tract.

    You may want to consider transitioning to another type of high-quality hay depending upon what is available in your area. Some horses appear to be more sensitive to Bermuda hay than others. You may try adding a bit more alfalfa. This should be done gradually and while paying close attention to any increase in gas or loose manure.

    Another thing to consider is splitting up his meals and switching to a more concentrated ration balancer pellet. He doesn’t appear to be getting enough of the low-starch feed to meet nutrient requirements. Offering 1.5-2.0 lb (0.7-0.9 kg) of a balancer pellet would meet his requirements nicely without increasing feed intake.

    EquiShure is designed to help support the health of the gastrointestinal tract through regulation of hindgut pH. Developed by Kentucky Equine Research (KER), EquiShure has helped many horses with inappetence and loose manure.

    Further, boosting immunity with antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids could support overall health. Lack of fresh grass and low feed intake most likely leaves him short on vitamin E. Nano•E is a liquid, natural-source vitamin E supplement that rapidly enters the bloodstream to provide powerful antioxidant effects.

    The addition of DHA and EPA, which are omega-3 fatty acids, has been shown to improve immunity and help reduce inflammation. EO•3 is high-quality, single-source fish oil supplement recommended to be fed at 30 to 60 ml per day.

    In summary, we recommend feeding high-quality hay, concentrated source of protein and nutrients, and targeted supplementation with antioxidants and omega-3s.

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