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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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Wintertime Digestion/Other Issues

Hello! My horse is a 15 year old, 14.1 h quarter horse who I've owned for 5 years. He is blind in one eye due to an injury which happened before I owned him.

Throughout the summer, he is normal and has no health issues however when the weather changes and it seems there is not so much pasture, he develops problems. His stomach makes lots of very loud noises and it is almost as if he has low-level colic but he has never actually colicked. He is very cranky in his stall and basically does not want to be touched or brushed. As soon as I put the saddle pad on, he relaxes and is fine. After I get on, he is fine for about once or twice at a walk around the ring and then he stops, I can feel his back right behind the saddle become tense, his stomach makes alot of loud noises and he seems to completely shut down almost like narcolepsy where he is unresponsive and his eye is "gone". After I dismount, he perks up again and we walk a bit and then try it again and sometimes he works out of it and we are able to have a "normal" ride but sometimes he doesn't. Over the last 4 weeks, I've been able to have 2 normal rides. Also, he's a sensitive horse and can be quite aggressive if he has hay in his stall. Different things I have tried are Gastrogard for a month, Doxy for a month, various digestive supplements, a saddle fitter to check that my saddle fits properly, a massage therapist, and he's on a special food (Progressive Grass Formula) so he only gets a mug 2x/day. Could his issues be stress-related that food is not always availble as in the summer when there is plenty of pasture? The farm feeds 1 or 2 flakes of hay in the AM, 1 flake at noon in the fields when they are out, 2 flakes with dinner and one flake at late night check. (Of course I sneak him one or two more flakes if I'm there in the evening after our attempted rides.) He always seems very hungry. Thanks so much for any advice!

Where are you from? PA

How did you locate this forum? search about equine health regarding hay

Re: Wintertime Digestion/Other Issues

Hi Smokey,

It sounds like your horse's problem is very simple -- He's Hungry.

He needs to have hay in front of him all day -- going for hours is very stressful, both physically and mentally. Hay allows his digestive tract to move normally. And, his stomach releases acid 24 hours a day, so that acid is flowing down his digestive tract, leading to ulcers and the destruction of the bacteria living in his hind gut. This is very uncomfortable and even painful.

Don't give him antacids. Feed him. Chewing produes saliva, a natural antacid.

So, the fix is simple -- he is upset and his digestive tract is rebelling because the poor fellow needs something to eat.

I hope this is helpful for you and your horse.

Wishing you the best this holiday season,

Dr. Getty

Where are you from? Bayfield, CO