Saturday, October 25, 2008

Your horse does NOT want you to read this...

Uh Oh. As much as I love Harvey's chunksterhood, it seems it is not healthy to keep them too well-cushioned...

Fat Horses Face Health Problems

ScienceDaily (July 10, 2007) — America's growing obesity problem has alarmed physicians and public health officials, and veterinarians have recently focused their attention on fat dogs and cats. Now, a team of researchers in the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine (VMRCVM) and the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS) at Virginia Tech has determined that horses are also facing serious health risks because of obesity.

Fifty-one percent of the horses evaluated during the pioneering research were determined to be overweight or obese -- and may be subject to serious health problems like laminitis and hyperinsulinemia. And just like people, it appears as though the culprits are over-eating and lack of exercise.

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If that isn't bad enough, a study reported in Science Daily claims that sweet treats can INTERFERE with a horse's training! If this is true, Harvey would be the wildest, scariest, spookiest horse ever. And he's not.

Sweets Make Young Horses Harder To Train, Study Finds

ScienceDaily (Aug. 19, 2008) — Young horses may be easier to train if they temporarily lay off the sweets, says a Montana State University study where two-year-olds wore pedometers, wrist watches and Ace bandages.

A commercial mixture of corn, oats, barley and molasses -- sometimes called "sweet grain" or "sweet feed" -- gives horses the glossy coat and lively spirit that makes them attractive to prospective buyers, said Jan Bowman, an animal nutritionist at MSU.

But the extra energy provided by sweet grain during the early stages of training made the horses in MSU's study more disobedient and fearful than horses that only ate hay, Bowman said. The grain-eaters spent more time resisting the saddle. They startled easier. They bucked and ran more during training.

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  1. I call BULLSH!T on the sweet feed one. My horse was a hard keeper and if he didn't have 8lbs of grain and an entire rectangle bale of hay (~12 flakes) per day he lost weight. And that's with regular but not heavy exercise plus daily turnout.

  2. ETA: The overweight thing is logical but news to me! Glad to see they did a study on it.

  3. But chickenrider, maybe your horse is an exception. As the owner of an insulin resitant horse who has metabolic disorder, I can say amen to these articles. I look forward to the day when mollasses is taken out of horse feed.
    My horse was obese with a cresty main and fat deposits before I finally got the IR totally under control with a grazing muzzle (which I hate to put on him.) He's had no grain for years, but does get Equipride as a supplement because it saved his life & feet. When the weight finally came off, his back has dropped due to the weight it carried.

  4. I think my Haffy is snottier because she gets a little sweetfeed every day. I just give her the teeniest amount with some Platinum supplement, because my old geezer gets several pounds twice a day. Doesn't make him an idiot. Maybe it's a mare thing!

  5. I agree with the majority of the article, minus one exception: the perceived evilness of sweet feed.

    Horses that are in heavy work, such as my own mare, need the calories and energy that sweet feed provides (in addition to good forage). After the initial intake, she seemed to be hotter, but in the necessary way.

    There is no direct general correlation between feeding sweet feed and general naughtiness, but what the article should have correlated is over feeding (of any feed/forage) with lack of work/stimulation.

  6. No sweet feed here but I wouldn't be able to keep wait on my youngsters without grain.

  7. Harvey isn't a young horse. Don't you mean Riley would be crazy?

  8. Harvey lives on Equus Magnificus, which has a lot of molasses, but even before that he's always gotten a lot of sweet treats. Even in his geezerhood he can be pretty perky.

    Riley is a cribber, and sweets make it worse. He just gets carrots. Besides, he's not really a riding horse yet so I can't really use him as an example.

    But thanks for inquiring, I do sometimes name one when I mean the other...

  9. Chickenrider: Don't hold back, say what you think :-)!

    I certainly know horses that need a lot of grain, but not all mixes are heavy on the molasses, which is what I think the article is referring to. It's like any generalization, there are always horses that it doesn't apply to.

    Your answer gave me an idea for another blog entry. See if you can guess it when you see it...


Hi Guys, Your comments are valued and appreciated -- until recently I never rejected a post. Please note that I reserve the right to reject an anonymous post.