Sunday, April 22, 2012

Updated Info on Southwest Regional Supplements

Website update - I've added Sally Hugg's California Trace supplement  to the SW Regional Custom supplements article on my website so you can now compare it to the three "Arizona" supplements I developed - AZ Regional Mix, AZ First Balance and AZ Copper Complete - manufactured and sold by HorseTech).
Even if you don't plan to use one of these four supplements, reviewing the charts in the article will give you an idea of some of the things to look for when comparing supplements.

  • What levels of minerals and vitamins does it contain?
  • What is the "base"?
  • How much do I need to feed?
  • Do I really need all the ingredients in the complete supplement or do I only need the basics?
  • Do I need to add a lot of extras to the supplement?
  • Do I want to pay for the convenience of having the "extras" included?

As you can tell by comparing the cost, analyses and suggested "add-ins" of these supplements, there is a wide spread between the "basic" supplements and the more complete mixes.  While it may be easier to simply buy the product with the most ingredients hoping to cover everything, I try to discourage horse owners from spending money on nutrients they don't need.  Sally's California Trace is perfect for a horse on quality pasture providing good levels of Omega-3 fatty acids and Vitamin E, or the owner who wants to purchase and grind their own flax seed.  The more intense support  of AZ Copper Complete might be the choice for the horse which never sees a blade of grass, whose hay quality is highly variable or the owner with little extra time available for "tweaking" their supplement.

The ideal is, of course, analyzing your hay (and pasture) to ensure you're meeting your horse's requirements and to give you a basis for filling in the gaps (or balancing excesses).  But when that is not possible, take the time to choose your supplement wisely, spending on the nutrients that will count for your horse.

Best regards,
Desert Hoofprints in very warm Vail AZ (99 F - don't forget the salt!)

Links -
SW Regional Supplements
California Trace

Monday, April 09, 2012

Can My IR Horse Still Live Like a Horse?

Many people feel "a horse's place is in the pasture" and are often dismayed to find out their Insulin Resistant horses shouldn't be grazing on all that lovely green grass.

"A frequent question/concern emerges with the newly diagnosed insulin resistant or Cushings horse: How can my horse enjoy life if he is not living like a
horse? How can he have any quality of life if not allowed to graze? Will he have to be confined, locked away in lonely isolation while the other horses are out in the fields?" 

In How Can My Horse Live Like a Horse  veterinarian and ECIR Group moderator Jaini Clougher explains how you can continue to provide movement and social interaction for your horse without exposing him to the problems associated with grass for IR horses.  You can read Dr. Clougher's article here .

If you suspect your horse may have Insulin Resistance/Equine Metabolic Syndrome or Cushing's Disease/PPID, you can get detailed information and support from the ECIR Group and their information website  

Sunday, April 01, 2012

Can Beet Pulp Replace Psyllium to Avoid Sand Build Up?

Anonymous asked onMar 31, 2012 02:08 PM
I live in Nevada and was told beet pulp will help in getting sand out of my horses bellies. I'm new to this horse thing and would love some help as we love our horses. If you would email the answer to me at **** thank you

Reports of using Beet Pulp to help avoid a build up of sand in the large intestine of horses are mainly anecdotal.  I don't advocate replacing psyllium with beet pulp, but it does share some similar properties (gel-forming pectin) that might help with sand removal. Beet pulp also encourages development of "good" microbes in the gut,which helps improve fiber fermentation (poor fermentation is one cause of "hay belly"). 

Sand impaction is common in areas with sandy soils.  The sand gradually accumulates in the colon and can cause chronic discomfort or acute colic.  You vet can identify characteristic "grating" sounds of sand in the abdomen and sand can sometimes be found in the manure.  Sand accumulation can be seen with some imaging devices in your veterinarian's clinic (field ultrasound and xray machines are not powerful enough to visualize the abdomen).

Psyllium has traditionally been used to prevent or remove sand accumulation in the horse's gastrointestinal (GI) tract and there are a multitude of products available in tack and feed stores and online catalogs. Psyllium  contains mucilage which when ingested and mixed with the fluids in the GI tract forms a gel. It is thought that this "gel" picks up and helps move the sand.  

Two studies have shown that psyllium had no effect on the removal of sand from the large intestine (within the parameters of the studies' designs).  A later study showed that a [specific product] containing psyllium plus pre- and pro-biotics may be effective prevention treatment.  At an Equine Veterinary Congress in Italy in 2010, in a presentation by an American veterinarian it was proposed "The efficacy of psyllium is highly controversial, but can be used because it is unlikely to cause problems and owners will expect it."

So, in light of these studies and the claims of the makers of the many psyllium products, where does that leave us?  

This is something to discuss with your vet. I live in sandy desert and stopped feeding psyllium about ten years ago when I began feeding beet pulp to all my horses.  (See Beet Pulp I - You want me to eat WHAT???) I feed hay in small mesh hay feeders or scattered over an acre or more to "simulate" grazing.  Several different veterinarians have indicated they hear no sand when checking my horses.

I have had more than one veterinarian tell me the best prevention for sand colic is feeding "free choice hay" (which might be best done in slow feed hay nets to avoid excess weight gain) and others agree with the feeding of beet pulp as a prevention tactic.  Using mats under feeders will help our equine "Hoovers" from rooting around in the sand to find those last tidbits - especially with wet or oily feeds which sand can stick to or hay like alfalfa which drops fine leaves.
Photo from WHISKERS-ON
For a bit of fun, get down to ground level with your horse as he munches some hay or a treat off the ground and watch how he uses his whiskers and sensitive lips to easily pick up only the "good stuff".


Failure of Psyllium Mucilloid to Facilitate the Evacuation of Sand from the Equine Large Intestine
Phillip D. Hammock, DVM; David E. Freeman, MVB, PhD; and Gordon J. Baker, BVSc, PhD, MRCVS

Fecal Sand Clearance Is Enhanced With a Product Combining Probiotics, Prebiotics, and Psyllium in Clinically Normal Horses
A. D. Landes1, D. M. Hassel2, J. D. Funk3 and A. E. Hill4
1 Equine Medical Service, Fort Collins, CO, USA. 2School of Veterinary Medicine, University of California, Davis, CA, USA. 3,4College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO, USA.

Chronic colic: diagnosis and treatment
David Freeman
MVB, PhD, Dipl. ACVS, University of Florida, College of Veterinary Medicine, Gainesville, FL 32610, USA

The Myths and Reality of Beet Pulp
Copyright Susan Garlinghouse, 1999

Leptin Baseline Testing for EMS

Leptin baseline testing has been added to the available test panels at the New York Animal Health Diagnostic Center Endocrinology Section at Cornell University for horses being tested for Equine Metabolic Syndrome (EMS), formerly known as Insulin Resistance (IR). See the protocol outline at under Equine Metabolic Syndrome Tests.
"Leptin is a hormone produced by adipocytes. Leptin is useful for separating hyperinsulinemia caused by EMS or Cushing’s syndrome from other causes, such as laminitis, stress, or non-fasted samples. This test can be performed on the same sample used for the Insulin baseline or ACTH/Insulin combination test."

According to Eleanor Kellon, VMD "The addition of leptin testing to the proxies greatly improves sensitivity. "  

Advantages of the Leptin/Insulin baseline or Leptin/ACTH/Insulin combination tests are they only require a single blood draw (though samples do require special handling and overnight shipping for accurate results).

The Leptin/Insulin baseline or Leptin/ACTH/Insulin combination panels are currently only available through the lab at Cornell, so your veterinarian will need to have an account with Cornell.

For more information, help and support for you and your horse with IR/EMS or PPID (Cushing's) you can join the ECIR Yahoo group at (the digest or reading web-based posts is recommended as there may be 50 or more messages a day).