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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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Rescue mare and care

Purchased a rescue mare (beautiful 16 year old Palomino) July 2004. 2 weeks after getting her home found out she had EPM. I have a wonderful vet, but he's very busy and hard to reach unless an emergency. She has not fully recovered. She is 14.3 hands and now weighs 900 lbs. I would like to be able to get a little more weight on her before winter. I currently feed her Dynasty senior feed with an alfalfa blend hay. I also read on the internet about alfalfa cubes and was giving her these as a treat. One of the people where I board told me that you cannot give a horse dry alfalfa cubes, it will choke them up or give them colic. Also, she stumbles quite a bit and I am wondering if perhaps she has a touch of arthritis.

Where are you from? Louisville KY

How did you locate this forum? web search

Re: Rescue mare and care

Hello Vikki,

Horses never fully recover from EPM but it can, in many cases be managed. It sounds like you are on the right track, based on how long you’ve had her and her weight gain.

Alfalfa cubes would be fine, but some horses are more prone to choke if the cubes are provided dry in a large quantity. As a treat, they can be broken into smaller pieces, so choke is not really an issue. However, if fed in large amounts, they can be moistened. Another option is to purchase alfalfa pellets and add those to her feed.

I would suggest that you give her an antioxidant preparation to support her immune function. Vita Key’s Antioxidant concentrate is excellent and was recently commended by The Horse Journal.

In addition, to help her gain weight, add a high fat top dressing such as flaxseed meal (Nutra-Flax by Horsetech) or a stabilized rice bran (Natural Glo rice bran nuggets or rice bran).

As far as her arthritis is concerned, additional omega 3 fatty acids will help with this, along with additional vitamin C. The flaxseed meal will provide omega 3 fatty acids and the Antioxidant Concentrate is high in vitamin C. However, if you feel that she is a candidate for a joint supplement, there are several that are worthwhile on the market such as Equinyl, ActiFlex, and Hylamotion.

So, those are some suggestions. Basically, you’re after increasing the fat in her diet, along with some key supplements to support her health issues.

All the best,

Dr. Getty

Re: Rescue mare and care

As the owner of an EPM mare, I'd like to add that EPM often causes some permanent muscle and nerve damage, so those horses may be inclined to stumble even when arthritis isn't involved. They are prone to stumble behind, drag a hind leg, or fall out of lead behind. The new medications are much improved over the ones I had to treat my mare, especially if the condition is diagnosed early. The only reliable way to diagnose EPM is through a spinal tap and evaluation of the fluid. The blood test only shows whether the horse has come in contact with the protozoa.

Where are you from? Poolville, TX

How did you locate this forum? Equine DDS gave me their website, w/link to you

Re: Rescue mare and care

Hi Pam,

Yes, you are correct about the EPM symptoms that can mimic arthritis. And, it’s true that the blood test is not conclusive since many horses are exposed to the protozoa.

Thanks for your input.

All the best,

Dr. Getty