Sunday, March 17, 2019

To Psyllium or Not - Hay is the Answer!

Like many things for our horses, the basic, simple things in life are often the best. Check out this article by Monique Warren - Sand Colic - The Surprising (Simple) Cure & Prevention for a look into the effectiveness of hay vs psyllium husk in preventing sand colic.
According to studies at the University of Florida, hay is overwhelmingly the most effective way to move sand from the digestive tract and prevent accumulation.
Like salt, clean water and exercise, hay in amounts to provide adequate gut fill is essential for our horses' well being.  When grain or high calorie lower fiber hay is substituted for high fiber forage, especially when "meal fed",  horses become more susceptible to sand impaction and colic.  I recently spoke with a gentleman who has transitioned his high level dressage barn Warmbloods to grass hay, minimal grain and a quality supplement with elimination of long standing hoof problems and improvement in overall health.
It's not always possible to provide a "natural" environment for our equine companions and athletes.  They are stabled for our convenience and asked to work in ways a free roaming horse wouldn't. But they also benefit from advanced veterinary care and explosions in knowledge about horses' basic needs.  Slow feeders - whether hay nets, Monique's Hay Pillows, or one of the many other options now available - can play a part in creating a more natural environment, especially for horses unable to graze because of stabling, travel or metabolic issues.

Other things to consider - standing up for your show horse by refusing to clip their all important whiskers - called vibrissae - sensory organs which help them recognize and sort food and prevent face and eye injuries.
To trim or not to trim your horse’s whiskers? The jury’s out…
Gemma Stanford, the BHS Director of Welfare, told H&H: “The purpose of the horse’s whiskers both around the eyes and muzzle provide sensory feedback on the horse’s environment. The length of the whiskers determines the safe distance from unfamiliar objects or substances and enables them to determine unfamiliar characteristics of food or detect small inedible objects providing an environmental map.*
We can enjoy our horses while helping them be all the horse they can be.

Patti in Vail AZ
hoping that the First Day of Spring actually brings some Spring weather!
*PS - YES! that noseband is way too tight!

Quality supplements: while hay testing is the ideal, consider AZ Copper Complete or other flax-based supplements from HorseTech
California Trace at
Whiskers -
Feeding Practices, Equine Dental Health - and Whiskers?
Can Beet Pulp Replace Psyllium to Avoid Sand Build Up?