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March 2020 Continued - Nutrition & Environment - Day 2

We continued this morning learning of the different nutritional requirements of certain groups of horses and the dangers of under feeding an obese or laminitic horse or pony.

For example, feeding less than 1.8% of their total body weight in forage (1.5% in extreme cases, at an absolute minimum and even then only ever over a short period, guided by veterinary advice) can greatly increase the chance of ulcers.
The importance of finding appropriate means of reducing an overweight horses calorie intake becomes very apparent when you also take into account that leaving them without any forage for more than 4hrs can also increase the risk of ulcers.

We talked a lot about the importance of lignin in the diet, which is a woody plant fibre that provides the structural support to allow plants and grasses to stand up.
Straw (oat straw is most palatable but be careful to try and avoid anything which has been treated), Hedgerow trees and bushes , Ash, Willow, Hazel and Gorse are all good sources of lignin and late cut hay will provide more than the first cut.

As a lot of domesticated horses do not have access to hedgerows and woody environments to browse (Yes - horses are browsers, not grazers. That's why they love picking those leaves off the branches of the Ash trees and rooting round in the hedge) inititally, they cannot always digest lignin easily or in any great quantity, but they are perfectly well designed to break down and utilise this - we just need to be sure to reintroduce it gradually.

In the afternoon we covered more on nutrition with Richard, the importance of the minerals required and balancing the ratios within the diet. This was one of light bulb moments for me on a personal level as we learnt that amongst the most common deficiencies are Copper and Zinc which can contribute to white line disease and sweet itch (both of which my Sally suffers with). A short while later, in discussing the nutritional components of a variety of vitamin & mineral balancers, I learnt that Pro Hoof Platinum contains elevated levels of both of these minerals and this is the only balancer I have really found to make a noticeable difference to her WLD but also (to a degree) her skin and thus, her sweet itch

Tomorrow morning I will be resitting my Stage 1 exam so fingers crossed.


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