Tips and Topics

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Vitamin E deficiency: Horses at risk during winter

Vitamin E cannot be synthesized by the horse; therefore, it is considered an essential nutrient. The best source of vitamin E is fresh green grass; however, the potency of vitamin E declines very quickly once forages are harvested and dried. Vitamin E is most crucial when horses are fed diets almost exclusively composed of preserved forages.

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Does Your Horse Need Electrolytes During the Fall and Winter?

Electrolyte supplementation in colder months depends on how much a horse is being ridden and how well they are drinking. Horses that are ridden lightly a few times a week and drink well probably get suffi­cient electrolytes from hay, concentrate and salt block. Horses that train hard and sweat daily may require a well-formulated electrolyte supplement even in colder months.

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Part 8: Fresh Water and White Salt Are Important for the Senior Horse

Ensure your senior horse has access to clean, fresh water at all times to prevent dehydration, especially if they consume more dry feed. In the winter, offer your senior horse warm water when temperatures are cold. In colder temperatures, water can become very cold, and older horses with sensitive teeth may be reluctant to drink it if it's too chilly. Providing warm water can be a helpful strategy to encourage them to drink and prevent dehydration during the winter months.

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Part 6: Joint Supplements for the Senior Horse

Joint supplements help support joint health and reduce stiffness and inflammation. Senior horses may benefit from a basic joint supplement that contains glucosamine, chondroitin and hyaluronic acid. Recent research has shown that joint supplements which also contain fermentation metabolites may mediate the immune response in the joints and reduce age-related inflammation. They are recommended for horses with arthritic changes.

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Part 5: Healthy Fats for Senior Horses

Including healthy fats in the diet can provide extra calories and help improve body condition without increasing the amount of concentrate fed. The equine stomach is relatively small and meals of more than 4 to 5 pounds can easily overwhelm the stomach and lead to ulcers and hindgut imbalances. When you have maxed out the amount of concentrate your horse can safely eat, a high-fat supplement will contribute the extra calories your horse needs to maintain a healthy weight.

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Part 4: Beet Pulp and the Senior Horse

Beet pulp is a good source of easily digestible fiber and can be soaked to create a soft mash, making it suitable for senior horses with dental issues. It can be added to the diet to help maintain weight and provide additional calories. Learn more about the advantages and disadvantages of beet pulp.

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Part 3: Senior Horse Feed

Commercial senior horse feeds are specifically formulated to meet the nutritional needs of older horses. These feeds are usually more easily digestible and may contain higher levels of protein, fat, and other essential nutrients. Many companies sell multiple types of senior feeds.

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Part 1: High-Quality Forage for the Senior Horse

Good-quality forage, such as grass hay or alfalfa hay, should form the foundation of your senior horse's diet. Forage provides energy, protein and minerals. Feeding this essential fiber helps prevent issues like colic, hindgut imbalances and ulcers. Provide between 1.5% to 2% of your horse’s body weight in forage daily. For example, a 1,000-pound horse should eat 15 to 20 pounds of forage per day.

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Tips for Picky Eaters of the Horse World

There is nothing more maddening than trying to feed a critical supplement to your horse and having him not eat it. If you have a picky eater, introducing a new supplement slowly will help short-circuit any possible protests. How slowly depends on the horse and just how suspicious he or she is.

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