SmartPak Ask a Pro Q1: A Healthy Hindgut

In the horse world, the importance of digestive health is top of mind when it comes to horses in competition. But it's not just performance horses that could run into some issues; all horse owners need to consider nutritional programs and management practices to support each horse’s unique digestive system.

We asked our featured SmartPak Pros, Health Team members Dr. Lydia Gray and Dr. Stacie Appleton: Why do you feel that every horse’s hind gut health should be addressed? What are good practices and key ingredients that you would recommend?”

Modern horse keeping, also known as “kept in a stall with limited turnout”, is not what a horse’s GI tract was built for.

The Health Team replied with, “All horses’ GI tracts are designed for optimal performance with a slow, steady roughage intake up to approximately 18 hours per day, regardless of their job. However, in many situations and modern horse keeping practices, this is not a viable option. Therefore, an understanding of good management practices and variations of nutritional needs help to ensure the horse that is not ‘at home on the range’ gets the nutrition they need supplied to them in a way that maintains their GI health.”

The Health Team continued,” To make sure nutritional requirements are met, it is important to provide roughage intake of a minimum of 1.5% of body weight daily and to select a balanced feed ration that complements the roughage. This ensures the varying nutritional requirements based upon life stage and workload of each horse are satisfied. Some additional management practices include breaking daily rations into several smaller meals per day, always offering hay before the grain portion of meal, making any changes to the horses’ diet and routine gradually, and ensuring access to fresh, clean water at all times.”

More is not always better, correct balance is key in a horses diet.

“Balance is the key ingredient to a quality feeding program. There is no magic potion or ingredient that will cure all the issues that can be caused by deficiencies or imbalances of nutrition. Horses should be fed to meet their energy need and the feeding program balanced to ensure the proper level of protein, vitamins and minerals are supplied. Supplements can be provided to customize a horse’s nutritional program for specific goals and needs. For example, omega-3 fatty acid consumption is greatly reduced when a horse does not have access to fresh, green grass. Thus, supplementing omega-3 fatty acids can be beneficial for horses whose roughage source is hay. Note that many ingredients in horse feeds and supplements have varying forms, modes of action, and bioavailabilities. It is important to understand why an ingredient is included in a ration or supplement, the relevance of ingredient form, and how it functions. More is not always better; sometimes it is just more,” conclude Dr. Gray and Dr. Appleton.

Recommendation: SmartDigest Ultra Pellets

Concerned about your horses digestive health? SmartDigest Ultra Pellets provides comprehensive support to the modern kept horse.

Providing support for normal hindgut function is an easy way to support the overall health and wellbeing of the horse. SmartPak’s SmartDigest Ultra Pellets provide comprehensive support for all horses, and can be especially advantageous for horses that are kept in more modern horse-keeping conditions, where there can be changes in hay, lack of grass turnout, and travel.

It contains pre- and probiotics to promote healthy digestive and immune function, as well as Diamond V® Yeast culture, shown to produce significantly more Volatile Fatty Acids (VFAs) and improve fiber digestion. In addition, SmartDigest Ultra Pellets qualifies for SmartPak’s ColiCare Program! Click here to learn more about it.

Keep following along in the SmartPak Ask a Pro series as we cover a wide range of equine health care and supplement topics here

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