of being utilized in the small intestine) a condition known as cecal acidosis can occur. The starch and sugar accelerates the fermentation process leading to a high acidic level. The acid kills the beneficial bacteria and microbes which creates a toxic environment - resulting in diarrhea, colic and possibly laminitis. We do not want this to happen. Feeding high starch grain or concentrates on an empty stomach will allow it to move through the equine digestive system quickly – possibly reaching the cecum before becoming fully digested in the small intestine. The presence of fiber (forage) will slow this movement. Management and choice of feed can lessen the chances of horses developing gastric ulcers or cecal acidosis…or both. In a perfect world our horses would be allowed to roam and graze – as nature intended. But few domestic horses have that option. The alternative is to allow plenty of turn-out time with access
to free-choice long-stem forage (hay) and offer a low-starch concentrate that provides the nutrients that are lacking in the forage. Feeding schedules should be small frequent meals in a 24-hour period, instead of two large meals - morning and late afternoon. Many stables feed the evening meal around 5 pm and the next meal not until morning. This guarantees an empty stomach and digestive tract by breakfast unless an adequate amount of forage was provided the evening before. The use of slow hay feeders or nets can assist in making the forage meal last longer. Purchase one of the low-starch feed formulas on the market. These products are nutritionally balanced and are safer than high grain mixes. Find a product designed for the age, health and activity level of your horse, then feed according to the directions…this means feed by the pound - not by the scoop. Every feed
room should have a scale, and remember to make all feed changes gradually when introducing a new feed. Horses are creatures of habit. They also have very sensitive digestive systems. It is our responsibility to ensure they are fed in the healthiest manner possible. * Earn a Bachelor of Science Degree in Equine Studies or certification as a Professional Horse Trainer or Riding Instructor. Start your new career as a riding instructor, horse trainer, or stable manager. All courses are online. Visit www.horsecoursesonline. com for information.
22 • HORSES MAGAZINE • July 2018 • Download and View FREE on-line at www.horsesmagazine.com
July 2018 Horses Magazine