Many horses (and people) are insulin resistant with high resting levels of insulin, but because the body is such a miraculous machine it is still keeping the sugar normal. Most fat and overweight “easy keepers” are insulin resistant. Certainly hypothyroid, Cushings, and chronic recurring laminitis or foundered horses fit this category as well. Lush green grass or stress (as in people) is often associated with, and generally what gets blamed for acute occurrences - but the underlying metabolic situation is usually at cause. Horses need good fats, not sugars!
almost without warning. It all comes back to the health of the horses’s gut. Any sudden change, as we well know, can be disastrous. Obvious concerns are getting too much grain or sudden exposure to lush green grass - but a weather change without free access to loose salt and minerals can be just as deadly to a pasture horse. Grass is a living, breathing organism (it just breathes carbon dioxide rather than oxygen) and it changes hour to hour. If the grass “thinks” it is going to die or has less chance of survival, it conserves and prepares - just like we would. Conservation of water would be a likely action. Grass does this by actually drawing potassium up from the ground, and if the soil is heavily fertilized, it can draw a lot, because a major part of fertilizer is potassium. Potassium allows the plant to attract more water. This is good for farmers who sell hay and crops by the pound but bad for the actual nutritional value because the grass, crop or whatever, is mostly just water. Devastation can occur if horses, cattle or other creatures are exposed to too much potassium at one time.
By now it should be clear that except in a free wild range situation with thousands of acres, it is impossible to have a perfect pasture today - but there is a “next to perfect” answer to the perfect pasture question! A perfect pasture is one that has a bucket (free choice access) of natural salt and naturally sourced minerals hanging in it - AT ALL TIMES. And I stress NATURAL source here and at ALL times. Even white salt and most minerals are chemical, often other industry’s leftovers, full of heavy metals (lead, cadmium, arsenic, aluminum, mercury). And salt blocks are just simply useless because horses are not lickers - they If you are a cattleman, I am sure your are “Free choice, loose salt can not get all of what they need from blocks familiar with Grass Tetany and Milk Fever, and and minerals must be period! They just can’t lick fast enough. the sudden death associated with its available to pasture occurrence. These were once thought to be horses at all times if such Once again - in the wild, horses have access to magnesium and calcium deficiencies. We now problems are to be all types of salt and minerals where they can know it is from high potassium forages and prevented!” pick and choose and balance themselves as grasses. Similar situations causing abortions (See our RED CAL needed. Today we fortify the feeds with various and gut problems often occur in horses. What minerals and fortify our pastures with fertilizer. happens is that the potassium spikes during product on page 46) The problem here is that we may actually be cool, wet conditions and especially after long causing an imbalance of nutrition. Mineral droughts followed by rainfall and rapid growth. supplements, though well intentioned, may give Situations like frost and freezing are especially them too much of what they don’t need. Hoof supplements are bad - have you ever had horse colic after a frost? Probably soespecially bad for this - massive amounts often, chosen by man --the reason is a sudden mineral change in the grass, not just and based on an RDA (recommended daily allowance standard) frozen grass! During these times sodium, calcium and that is 15 years old or more. Natural minerals and salt like magnesium decrease, while potassium increases. This spike in colloidal minerals and sea salt (often from desert sources that potassium is often deadly. A major problem like this occurred used to be the ocean millions of years ago) contain other in 2001 in the Midwest where reproductive losses occurred in micronutrients as well, and are balanced by mother nature, not thousands of horses, cattle, sheep and goats. This was severe by man. in Kentucky as well. Often cattle were found dead just a few hours after frost and freezes. Mineral blocks just cannot provide The confusing issue here is that if you compare mineral amounts the minerals fast enough for such rapid changes in weather. to man-made products, natural sources often look like they Free choice, loose salt and minerals must be available to contain very low levels. But what they do contain is so much pasture horses at all times if such problems are to be more usable or bio-available that it packs a much greater, yet prevented! balanced punch! They literally contain every nutrient and mineral that was once in the “living oceans.” Often with manIt is also important to consider that since sodium (the Na part made our horses over-consume what they don’t need while of NaCl, or salt) is so similar to potassium, horses often think trying to get what they do need. AND, what they really need they have enough sodium (but really have too much potassium) may not even be in the mix because man is not aware of it so they stop eating salt. This is especially so in the winter when natural is better! they need it most. Force-feeding salt is a viable solution particularly in pregnant mares. This should be in addition to Pasture horses must have access to loose salt and minerals at making it readily available free choice. (Always be sure to put all times. If they don’t, they can colic, founder, abort and die any salt product near readily available water).
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