THE INFAMOUS COMPLETE AND BALANCED NUTRITION
Take a moment and think about your special horse, even if you have a herd of horses. Raise your awareness and attention to one of them right now. Think of the precious moments and memories you have with that horse.
How would it feel to be able to create space for more of those moments? Quality of time and life with that horse?
Extending the quality of life and longevity for your horse is achievable and cleaning your horse’s nutrition is crucial to this goal and intention. Before we dive into equine nutrition, we should clarify that not all horses need supplementation beyond their basic hay or forage. Ultimately, the best source of nutrition for your horse is fibrous dense forage or good-quality hay. For many recreational horses, this will be adequate nutrition for their needs.
There are times because of performance, training, or increased stress or risk that a horse needs and benefits from supplementing nutrition. It's likely that you're already supplementing your horse for a specific reason, or have a focused intention as to why you feel your horse needs supplementation.
The reality is that none of us knowingly feed or use products and supplements that hinder our horse’s health. Sadly, our horse’s food has become overly processed and full of cheap fillers, toxic chemicals, and inflammation-promoting synthetics. Many of the bags and buckets on the feed store shelves are equal to a cupcake with a vitamin popped in the center. Making matters worse, the vitamins added are mostly lab-created and the body doesn’t utilize or recognize the nutrition; meaning it goes in one end and out the other or will store in the body causing inflammation and health concerns.
There's no denying the rising number of concerns like gastric ulcers, insulin resistance, equine metabolic disease, laminitis, founder, Cushings, and other health imbalances in horses. It’s a clear indication that we are missing the mark with all the scientifically proven and complete nutrition and our current care routines.
What will it mean for your horse if you don’t clean their nutrition and get their health in balance?
Many of us end up discovering this the hard way when one of our horses "suddenly" gets ill or their health spirals out of control.
Imagine for a moment that you own a diesel truck. You wouldn't fuel it up with gas, even if an “expert” told you to. You would disregard their recommendation regardless if others all around you listened.
Unlike your car or truck, which would have rapid malfunctions and breakdowns if you put in the wrong fuel, your horse’s body can adapt for long periods of time. When their body begins to show the dysfunctions and concerns you’ve been feeding the wrong fuel for so long, often you don’t even connect that’s part of the problem.
Furthermore, everyone around you is feeding the same thing. So why would you question anything at all? Yet, what you fail to realize is most of their horses are also having the SAME or SIMILAR list of concerns.
You might have scrolled down through this post and wondered “How can this series talk about nutrition without a bunch of graphs, ratios, and complicated charts?”
The truth is, you won’t find any cookie-cutter, scientifically proven, ratio and percentage balanced looks into equine nutrition in this series. Many of our Core Wellness Coaches have attended courses that teach this method, but it's not what we utilize day to day in our work or what we do with our personal horses. Therefore, we choose to share with you what we have seen that produces results for our horses and those of our clients.
One of the most effective insider hacks you can learn about your horse's nutrition is to spot the synthetics, fillers, and additives in an ingredient list. It's not to say that you should never feed or utilize synthetics... But when you do it needs to be in moderation and with a specific goal or reason in mind.
As mentioned before most fortified and cereal grains on the market resemble that cupcake with a synthetic vitamin in the middle and when fed day after day, it will increase your horse’s risk of health concerns.
Let's complete this step together! Go out to your feed shed and grab one of the ingredient lists from your horse’s feeds or supplements. Even if you believe you’re feeding a plain hay pellet or your feed is recommended by your trainer, vet, or farrier, you will want to review each of the ingredient lists.
Whether you can tear an ingredient list paper from a bag or use your phone to get a picture off the bag or bucket, it’s best to use the ingredient list directly off the supplement versus the company’s website. Some websites aren’t updated regularly and might only share the active ingredients. Even on the feeds I love and use now, I consistently review the ingredient lists for changes.
Here in a moment we'll review that ingredient list, but before we do, let’s clear up a few terms commonly used around your horse’s care products:
• Natural - existing in or caused by nature; not made or caused by humankind.
• Organic - relating to or derived from living matter.
• Synthetic - (of a substance) made by chemical synthesis, especially to imitate a natural product.
What is important to note is that labeling has twisted and contorted these words. Companies can label a product as natural even if it’s made mostly of synthetic ingredients.
“Unfortunately, vitamins can be labeled as natural if they contain as little as 10% of the natural form of the vitamin. This means that your “natural” vitamin could contain 90% of synthetically produced chemicals! B-Vitamins and Vitamin C are also usually synthetically produced.” ~ Dr. Edward Group DC, NP, DACBN, DCBCN,DABFM
Animal products have less regulation or requirements for what must be listed on the label. Another thing to watch for is that manufacturers can also “hide” ingredients inside their proprietary blend. Your goal is to increase the amount of whole food, and species-specific ingredients contained in the feeds and supplements you choose to utilize as opposed to having a long list of synthetic, filler, or additive ingredients that your horse’s body must filter, process, and cleanse before it can utilize the nutrients within.
Natural nutrients are obtained from whole food sources in the diet, and synthetic nutrients are typically made artificially, through an industrial process. It’s important to note that the production process of synthetic nutrients is not the same, nor does it compare to the way plants and animals create them. So despite having a similar makeup, your horse’s body will likely respond differently to synthetics. It’s often unexplored how well the horse’s body absorbs and utilizes synthetic nutrition.
Your horse would not naturally intake singled out nutrients… Instead, they would consume a whole range of vitamins, minerals, cofactors and enzymes that allow for optimal use by their body. This combined with the fact that the body may not recognize synthetic nutrients only adds to the health risk and concern of relying too much on synthetic ingredients.
When reviewing the ingredient list of your horse’s grains and supplements, watch out for the following:
• Ingredients that end in “ate”
• Ingredients that end in “ite”
• Ingredients listed as a “dl-” form
• Ingredients listed as vitamins on the ingredient list (ex. Vitamin C)
You might wonder how a vitamin listed on the ingredient list would be synthetic… If it’s listed on the ingredient list it was added in a synthetic form versus gaining it from a whole food source. There are some vitamins that can only be supplemented synthetically, as it's formed during a chemical reaction or synthesis within the body. But the goal is to support the body’s natural production of the vitamin or feeding a whole food option known for its high content of that vitamin wherever possible.
Our intention in reviewing this information isn’t to vilify certain ingredients or even synthetics for that matter. But the current trends, to lean on synthetics, do have a negative impact on health. Now that you’ve been empowered to spot them, you as the horse owner can decide if feeding 10, 20, 30, or more synthetic ingredients day after day is what you choose to do. Once you’ve identified the synthetics, if you really wish to keep your horse on a product that contains quite a few, you might search the internet for information on each of the synthetics listed.
This will give you a broader understanding of why it was included and additional facts like cautions, lack of digestibility, and so on. It is possible and feasible for your care routine to contain very few (often less than 10 synthetic or non-whole food ingredients). In fact, most of the clients and students that report the most dramatic health improvement in their horse have also followed these steps to not have synthetics in their horse’s feed or supplements.
An example of a time you would make an exception is something like a stabilized rice bran meal... Because even the cleanest stabilized rice bran ingredient list is going to contain a preservative like Calcium Carbonate. Again, this information serves to empower you as you make decisions in your horse’s care.
Can you continue to feed high amounts of synthetics? Sure. But it will be at the expense of your horse's spleen, liver, and other cleansing organs to process and cleanse through. This factor will therefore increase your horse's risk of imbalance and reduce the likelihood of your horse experiencing the same results as those horse owners who are open to making more natural changes. Because over time, that has been proven to be the case.
There you have it... You're now empowered with the 3 Surefire Steps to Transforming Your Horse's Health!
Step #1 - Cell Health and Function
Step #2 - Digestive Health and Restoration
Step #3 - Clean Whole Food Nutrition
It's time for us to revisit Step #1 again and share simple and tangible ways you can implement it into your horse's care routine! Watch your inbox and we'll see you soon.