Tag Archives: Horses

Once in a whorl

Horse Electrolytes in the Winter

In the off-season when the snow is flying and the dread of going to the barn to crack water buckets is looming, reading about a favorite topic (wait for it) HORSES, can be a favorite pastime! Once in a “while,” you come across interesting reads about little know horse factoids. Yet finding historical references explaining the extent of the horse’s involvement in civilization’s prominence are not readily found.

HUMAN-HORSE RELATIONSHIP

Centurion satatue

From the beginning of the human-horse relationship, historical evidence shows us that owning horses was a privilege reserved only for the upper crust of society. With the Romans, horses were a show of power and strength. Generals rode while the foot soldiers walked. However, without the domestication of the horse ancient civilizations might not have been, and quite possibly our world could look much different. Throughout history, the horse’s usefulness has been at the forefront of what it has become. Harnessing the power of horses probably enabled the building of the great pyramids or the Coliseum. Horses pulled great shovels to dig canals and build infrastructure. Becoming a mode of transportation was one of the most significant historical turning points. No longer would humans walk but could ride and carry their wares to market or to other tribal areas with more speed than other animals. The average 1,000-pound horse can pull a wagon of twice its weight and travel at a top speed of around 35 miles per hour.

EVOLUTION

The horse has evolved over 50 million years. Originally known as eohippus, horses were no bigger than a dog and were prey animals that walked on three toes. The chestnut of modern-day horses is said to be a remnant of the toes that became a hoof. Something else that is unclear about the horse is the existence of whorls; those cute little hair patterns that look like crop circles on the face and body. No one can explain whorls any more than they can explain cowlicks in humans.  Whorls  have been studied for centuries resulting in correlations between whorls and temperament. Gypsies believed one whorl on the center of the forehead could mean an easygoing temperament and two whorls high on the forehead meant a more complicated temperament giving way to more modern training methods. Theories about flight responses and predicting the direction a horse will go when startled were recently studied by Colorado State University. After exposure to a spoke stimulus, researchers determined if the hair pattern in a whorl on a horse’s face grows counterclockwise it most likely turned to the left and if the hair grows clockwise, it will go right. Could this also indicate if a horse is right-sided or left-sided? I find this fascinating!

UNSUNG AND UNDER REPRESENTED

The human-horse relationship roles seem a bit reversed today. Have horses become our masters? We carry their water and grain to them when history tells us they carried ours. We willingly groom, clean, care for and pamper them. Well I say they have earned it! They are the unsung and overlooked heroes of our civilization. In every aspect of our world history, from depictions in cave drawings to the pinnacle of competition, the horse has always served man well. Today the status symbol of a horse is not as shiny as it once was, but caring for a horse is truly a rewarding experience. I always know that whatever is troubling can be resolved while grooming a horse. Whether you use horses for pleasure, competition, or as a therapy animal you have to agree they are in fact magnificent creatures!

Written by: Big Dee’s Web Products specialist, Kathy Kilbane

Horse Trailer Annual Maintenance and Safety Stock Up

Horse Trailer Annual Maintenance and Safety Stock Up

If you are planning on traveling with your horses this year and own your own trailer, now is a great time to plan your annual trailer cleaning and maintenance. It is also a great time to restock your road side hazard kit and trailer first aid kit. Check out this handy guide to ensure that you have all you need on the road for stress-free and safe travels.

The importance of annual maintenance.

An annual thorough cleaning of your horse trailer both inside and out, is an important part of ensuring years of safe service. This annual routine will Continue reading Horse Trailer Annual Maintenance and Safety Stock Up

Weight Builders for Horses

How Can You Keep Weight on Your Horse in Winter Months?

While this winter has so far been quite mild here in Northeast Ohio, it is usually very common for some horses to drop weight during the winter months.  Freezing temperatures can place quite a demand on the horse to burn calories simply to stay warm.  Horses also lack the benefit of lush pastures, and have to obtain a majority of their calories through hay intake.  One of the best ways to keep weight on a horse during the winter months is to increase hay intake.  However, not all of us have a barn full of hay that will allow us to do this.  If you have ever tried to purchase additional hay in January and February, you may have noticed it is a bit more expensive than in June and July.  Additionally, boarding facilities typically run on a tight budget, and may not be able to increase hay rations to the levels needed to maintain horses in optimal condition.  So, what can you do to supply your horse with the calories needed to stay warm and fit?

I recommend looking at a fat supplement to supply the extra calories.  Increasing the fat content of your horse’s diet can be beneficial not only for weight gain, but for skin and coat health, and a host of other reasons as well.  For weight gain, fat contains a substantial amount of energy or calories.  In fact, it contains more than twice the calorie content of carbohydrates or proteins!  When looking to add weight to a horse, look no further than fat sources.  Horses can absorb about 20% of their diet as fat, but most experts will recommend roughly 10-12% of the total diet be constituted from fat sources.

Horse Supplements
There are many ways to add fat to a horse’s diet, including top dressing with a vegetable or corn oil, using a fat supplement such as Gain Weight, Weight Builder, or Ultimate Finish 40 or 100. You can also use a fortified, extruded fat supplement such as Progressive Nutrition’s Envision, Buckeye Nutrition’s Ultimate Finish 25, Tribute’s K Finish, or Purina’s Amplify. You can opt for a stabilized rice bran supplement such as Equi-Jewel by Kentucky Performance Products.  Supplementing the diet with a cup of corn oil may be the most economical, but there are other factors to consider, especially omega fatty acid levels.

You hear quite a bit about omega fatty acid content in horse supplements, specifically, omega 3’s, omega 6’s.  There are huge differences between how these fatty acids interact with a horse’s body.  In order to give your horse the greatest benefit from a fat source, you must consider those effects when deciding which fat source is the best fit.

Omega 3 fatty acids are anti-inflammatory in nature.  They help balance the immune system, protect joints and ligaments, reduce skin allergies, improve heart and vascular health, and have many other beneficial properties.  Omega 6 fatty acids are pro-inflammatory and tend to aid in blood clotting.  It is important to note, both Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids are considered essential fatty acids, meaning horses cannot produce them on their own.  They must come from external sources, and horses need both of them.  The important component to consider is the ratio of omega 3’s to omega 6’s.

Vegetable oils, especially corn oil, tend to be high in omega 6, and low in omega 3 content.  Adding corn oil will add calories to your horse’s diet and improve coat luster, but certainly will not benefit an older horse with creaky joints or a horse subject to seasonal skin allergies. To start, I look for a product that is higher in omega 3 content than omega 6, so that I can be sure my horses are getting the added benefits omega 3’s provide.

Horse Care | Supplements
If you are feeding fat simply for the weight gain factor, I would recommend choosing a product such as Buckeye Nutrition’s Ultimate Finish 100 or Cool Calories 100.  Both of these are 99% fat and are designed simply to add weight.  They are not as engineered for Omega 3 and 6 ratios, but are excellent for bulking up that thin horse.  Another option would be to go with an oil like Coca Soya, Rice Bran oil, or FSO (which is a flax seed and soy oil mix), or Equine Omega’s Mega Gain.  Typically oils are in the 98-99% fat range and are great at adding weight.  However, palatability can be an issue with an oil, especially if fed in large amounts.

If you are looking for a product that will help with weight gain, but has been designed with Omega 3 and 6 ratios in mind, take a look at Buckeye Nutrition’s Ultimate Finish 40, Gain Weight, or Weight Builder.  All of these products are roughly 40% fat, with 14% protein.  They do a good job of putting weight on while providing the benefits of a higher Omega 3 to 6 ratio.  Currently, I have one horse on a fat supplement, more for the anti-inflammatory and coat benefit than for a weight gain.  I am using Equine Omega Complete, which is one of the best on the market.

Hopefully, this has given you some good options to consider when choosing a fat supplement.  Remember, to introduce fat slowly to the horse’s diet, and consult with your veterinarian if your horse has a history of liver issues before deciding on a fat supplement.