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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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old horse digestion

dr. getty, Its been a few years since I ,ve talked to you. Thank you, as my 3 horses have been very healthy. Except, My old 18 year old arab. who is typically flighty. When I rescued her she wasnt in good shape, just deworming her had to be done in stages.From what I understand, she most likely is compramized because of her past health. They all eat nutrina safe choice, coastal grass hay ( as good I can find in this area) daily dewormer, and pasture 24-7 with a run in barn. In the winter I warm the water, and add apple juice. I add warm water to feed on cold nights.I keep salt for them.I do everything I can that I know to do and my old mare seems prone to colic. I keep banamine on hand, and by advise from my local vet give it iv. It seems every winter we go though this. I did use Ration Plus. I dont any more, however I,m ready to try it again. Can I use it in the winter only or should I use year round? What else can I do? Last summer she acted strange, she may have been ovulating, I wasnt sure and didnt see her poop, so my sister juiced carrots. Then we walked. Within 30 minutes she pooped 3 times. I,m a little concerned about giving her a lot of carrot juice, if she has a belly ache in the winter. What do you think about juicing carrots? My sister knows a lot about human nutrition, however she doesnt seem to understand how delicate the equine system is. Other than Ration Plus what else can I do for this old horse.I really cant afford to spend all on her when I have two young healthy horses to keep healthy. Please give me your thoughts as I get so confused with all the suppliments on the market, and what works and what doesnt. Thank you, Rhonda

Where are you from? houston Texas

How did you locate this forum? I stumbled on to it a few years ago

Re: old horse digestion

Greetings Rhonda,

Thank you for writing about your mare. It seems that you are doing a very good job with her. I do have a few suggestions to reduce her risk of colic that you may find helpful.

First, if you can eliminate the high amount of sugar in her diet, that would be a good thing. Do you need to add apple juice to her water in the winter to get her to drink? Adding plain, white table salt -- one tablespoon, twice each day, will meet her sodium needs (which are very important for proper intestinal function) and will encourage her to drink. Avoid the carrot juice, as well. This high level of sugar increases insulin levels which may have an effect on her motility of her intestines. Plus reducing sugar will have a positive effect on her moods.

Second, Ration Plus will boost the health of the bacterial flora that live in the hind gut, making her digestive system healthier. So, yes, I would suggest giving this to her to reduce the incidence of colic.

Third, you mentioned a daily wormer, which is fine. But, she also requires a paste worming twice each year -- once with Ivermectin in the fall and once with Ivermectin combined with prazaquantel (for tapeworms) in the spring. Also, you should consider giving her a five day, double dose of a wormer known as fenbendazole to get rid of encysted larvae. All horses can benefit from this once or twice each year. The brand name is Panacur PowerPak. You would stop the daily wormer during the days that she is receiving this dosage.

Are her teeth ok? Poor teeth can lead to inadequately chewed hay, which can cause compaction. So, have her teeth floated if they haven't been done within the past year.

And finally, is there a chance of sand consumption? Sand colic creeps up on horses very gradually. If she grazes in sandy areas, she likely has some sand in her gut. You can test this by placing one or two manure balls in a large freezer bag full of warm water. Let it dissolve and shake it well. Then see if sand settles to the bottom.

So, these are several things to look for -- keep me posted on how she's doing.

All the best,

Dr. Getty

Where are you from? Bayfield, CO