The more we learn about our horses’ GI tracts the more we realize we need to support their health. Gastric pain, dull coat, poor topline, sluggish performance, misbehavior, and muscle tension can often be traced back to gastro-intestinal problems. Even hard keeping horses reveal inefficient digestion & nutrient absorption. So how can we help the engine of the horse?
Where good horse management is key, I’ve stumbled across a gold mine concerning Equine GI health products! Mad Barn Supplements produces an oral supplement called Visceral. It is hands down the best GI support supplement I have ever used. Comprised of herbal lubricants and anti-inflammatories, magnesium, amino acids, and pre & probiotics, Visceral offers pain relief and digestive support at a maintenance level.
The inner bark of the slippery elm tree is long known to be a natural remedy for stomach ulcers and intestinal discomfort in people, and we are finding it effective in horses as well! Powderized, the bark is ingested and coats the horse’s alimentary tract in a make-shift mucous. This acts as a lubricant where biological mucous is lacking, and thus relieves pain and inflammation in the GI tract.
Lecithin is a combination of phospholipids that occur naturally in some plants. Lecithin a valuable source of choline in the diet, and prevents cell membranes from hardening (this would prevent nutrients from reaching cells). Lecithin & choline are believed to improve liver function, reproductive efficiency, and cardiovascular health.
Similar to slippery elm, marshmallow root lines the alimentary tract, and has been proven successful in relieving inflammation in gastric muscosa. This means it is extremely helpful to treat and prevent the recurrence of ulcers as well as inflammation in the hind-gut.
With an emphasis on lowering acid levels in the GI tract, meadow sweet acts as a buffer for the stomach and small intestine, and a life line for the microbes in the cecum. There is also evidence to show a correlation between acidity and the deterioration of connective joint tissue, so meadow sweet may also be helpful in treating joint pain.
The majority of a horse’s digestion happens in the hind-gut via microbial population. This means that bacteria, protozoa, and fungus actually break down more food for the horse than biological enzymes. Unfortunately for the horse, these microbes are fragile little pansies, and their population is vulnerable to the environment in the horse’s gut. In common management programs, a horse’s cecum rarely meets the environmental capacity to please these microbes. This means that they don’t live long healthy lives to serve the horse’s digestion. Probiotics are actually strains of the microbes that we want in the horse’s hind-gut. Ergo, by pumping new microbes into the gut, we improve the functional efficiency to break down fiber.
Probiotics= More efficient digestion of fiber, which is the bulk of the horse’s diet
Woody is a 9 year old quarter horse who belongs to Bearfoot Ranch, equine rescue. He was pulled from someone’s backyard with a body condition score of 1 (generously) when he was a yearling. Woody was able to make a miraculous recovery over the course of a few years and has lived at the rescue for the last 8 years. Recently, the ranch realized that Woody needed the insurance policy of being a serviceable animal, and sent him to our farm (Dreamer’s Knoll) for training. Even after 8 years, traces of a deprived GI tract were evident. He showed signs of gastric discomfort, and was not a forward thinking pony. His fecal output was not firm, and its content revealed undigested hay. So we jump started his system with Visceral!
After 30 days on the product, Woody’s whole world has turned around! Now Woody has forward, even gaits and an immense will to please. His coat has bloomed, he’s building topline, and his feet are growing like weeds! This reveals a simple truth- he is digesting what he eats! His poop has gone from cow pie to mounded nuggets, and he shows no sign of gastric discomfort. Because of this physical transformation, we’ve been able to get Woody started and safe under saddle W/T/C & popping little fences. Woody has just left on lease with a local eventing lesson program!
Thank you Mad Barn Supplements!
No animals were harmed in the making of this blog...
An Empath’s Journey through the Horse Industry
Learning about, educating on, and promoting practical ways to improve sustainable wellness in horses
Horses. Riding. Life.