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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.

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All the best,

 Dr. Getty 


Ask the Nutritionist: Dr. Getty's Forum for Equine Nutrition
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Re: soft soles, thinnng mane and tail

Hello Susan and Doreen,

Soft soles, in my opinion, are a symptom that the horse is not getting all the nutrients that he needs. You see, horses use nutrients in order of priority -- the priority being to stay alive. So, the vital organs (liver, lungs, heart, kidneys, etc.) are fed first. Then, if there are nutrients remaining, the horse can feed the tissues that are not necessary to support life such as hooves, hair, joints, etc.

So, the first approach is to examine the entire diet. I do not believe that too much vitamin E is causing the problem. However, I don't feel that overdosing is a good idea, either, as with any nutrient.

Start by evaluating the foundation of the diet -- forage. Make sure that your horse is getting all that he wants and that he doesn't run out. If he has an empty stomach, he could develop an ulcer, but in this scenario, the acid that the stomach is always producing, will damage the hindgut bacteria. When that microbial population is compromised, it leads to a "leaky gut" and toxins can enter the bloodstream and affect the feet.

But getting back to nutrients... check to see that the hay you are feeding is balanced with minerals, that there is adequate protein, and that it is not too high in sugar and starch. Make sure that your horse is getting enough high quality protein -- grass hay, alone, will not give him the building blocks he needs to build healthy tissue. Adding alfalfa will definitely help.

And then, keep in mind that hay has virtually no vitamin content or omega 3s left. So, flaxseed meal, plus a vitamin/mineral supplement or a flaxseed meal based supplement such as Glanzen Complete, is well worth it.

The goal is to fill in all the nutritional gaps, while keeping the digestive tract healthy. A probiotic is also useful to keep the hindgut microbes healthy.

This is an overview. If you find that you need me to take a detailed look at your situations, please consider setting up a personal phone visit. That way I can spend time with you going over everything -- the big picture -- to customize a plan.

All the best,

Dr. Getty
Author of Feed Your Horse Like A Horse

Hi, Doreen. Just curious - do you happen to be supplementing with Vitamin E, and if so, how much and for how long? (trying to see if the farrier may be onto something with a connection between Vitamin E and his soft soles).

Where are you from? Bayfield, CO