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Ask the Nutritionist: Dr. Getty's Forum for Equine Nutrition

   Welcome to my forum. 

Here you will find more than 6 years of questions and my answers. It is searchable and offers a great deal of information. 

Currently, I am discontinuing new questions. This may change in the future, but in the meantime, please know that It has been a true pleasure serving you. 

Take a look at my Nutrition Library and Tips of the Month for a variety of answers on selected topics. Be sure to sign up for my monthly e-newsletter, Forage for Thought

I also have a growing number of recordings on "Teleseminars on Nutrition Topics that Concern You" as well as the new, Spotlight on Equine Nutrition Series -- printed versions of favorite teleseminars.

And finally, look for my articles in a variety of local publications and online newsletters, as well as the Horse Journal, where I am the Contributing Nutrition Editor.  


All the best,

 Dr. Getty 


Ask the Nutritionist: Dr. Getty's Forum for Equine Nutrition
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coat troubles

First of all hello and thank you thank you thank you for offering a place where horse lovers can get specific questions answered by qualified people.

Ok, I have a slightly complex issue involving 2 horses but I will try to keep it short.

Horse number 1 is an eleven year old quarter horse tennasee walker cross gelding. he has excellent, if a tiny bit chubby, body condition. (I love him, so I spoil him with apples) He has nice healthy hooves, joints, etc. He has never gone lame on me in three years of ownership and has an excellent, if a bit court jester like, disposition. He is ridden about 4-5 times a week, light to moderate length and intensity, and is in good condition regarding stamina. His only problem is that he has cronic dandruff and dry skin and he rubs his mane off every summer. religeous application of conditioners has helped a bit.

horse number 2 is a draft quarter horse cross, mare, six years old. She is my best friends horse, and we have only had her about 2 months. She also has dandruff, though not as bad as the gelding. Unfortunately I know very little about her other than she was on mostly bermuda grass hay at her old home.

Both horses get 2 flakes of alfalfa in the motning and two in the evening (the draft has been slowly weaned over in the past two months) on top of this they get a small amount of grain which I started them on about 1 1/2 months ago (again weaning them on over a period of two weeks) It consists of 2 double handfuls of sweet stuff (a balanced sweet feed with a little bit of corn in it) a handful of wheat bran, and a coat supplement (my primary reason for starting the grain) which is called mirra coat and consists of omega fatty acids and biotin. Once in a while I toss in a little bit (1 handful)of triple crown growth formula, only because my horse lives the way it tastes.

The problem is that the dandruff has not improved in the draft at all and only very minimally in my horse. I am considering taking out the wheat bran and adding rice bran instead because I have read that it can help with skin and coat because of the fat, I have also read that rice bran oil, flaxseed oil, and wheatgerm oil can help. However, I have two mane concerns, the calcium phosphorus ratio, and my horse becoming overweight. I have done my homework, but now I find myself spining and confused. Please help if you can.

Where are you from? Wildomar California

How did you locate this forum? google

Re: coat troubles

Hi Jamie,

Well, let’s talk about each issue separately.

First, your concern about their weight: The best thing you can do for your horses to control their weight is to take them off of the sweet feed and grain-based feeds. When a horse becomes overweight, he can develop insulin resistance. A high-starch/sugar diet promotes the secretion of more insulin and the result is an increase in fat storage. So, I would suggest that you change to a low starch feed.

Second, the calcium to phosphorus ratio is not a concern since you are feeding a fair amount of alfalfa, which is very high in calcium. So, it is fine to continue with the wheat bran. I would not switch to rice bran because it will add additional calories from fat.

You mentioned that you occasionaly offer a small amount of growth formula. The health of a horse’s digestive system depends upon consistency. So, it is potentially harmful to add a different feed only once in a while. So, try to be consistent by feeding the same thing every day.

OK, and now to the skin – Mirra Coat is very high in linoleic acid, which is an Omega 6 fatty acid. You want to feed a supplement that is high in Alpha-linolenic acid, an Omega 3 fatty acid. This supplement is also very low in biotin and vitamin E. So, I don’t think your horses are getting much benefit from it. I recommend that you feed them a good multiple vitamin/mineral supplement that is high in these two nutrients – Grand Complete is a good choice.

You’ll also want to provide a probiotic to boost the body’s immune system. Dandruff can be due to dry skin, but it can also be due to an allergic reaction to insect bites, or a fungal infection.

I hope this helps clarify things for you.

All the best,

Dr. Getty