If your horse has a healthy gut this will ultimately lead to his improved health and performance.
Here our expert Fiona Watkins, shares her three top tips to maintaining your horse’s balanced and effective gastro-intestinal tract.
1. Forage (fibre) such as hay should form the basis to your horse’s diet, as the fermentation of forage ensures that the microbial populations of his hindgut are kept stable and healthy.
Fibre also takes a longer time to chew and digest, and this chewing will stimulate the production of saliva, which is key to aiding proper digestion and reducing incidences of choke.
2. As your horse has only a small stomach, you should divide his feed ration into three or four smaller portions around 2kg per feed, which should resemble his normal grazing and eating pattern.
Your horse’s stomach capacity is less than 10% of their total gastro-intestinal tract and tends to be more effective when half or three-quarter’s full than completely full.
3. You should leave at least an hour after feeding before exercising your horse, otherwise this could slow down his digestive process.
Also if exercising your horse when his stomach is full, his lungs will have less space to inflate, making his workload seem more strenuous.
Equally, you should leave an hour after exercise before feeding as you don’t want to compromise his digestive process.
However, exercise at the right time is beneficial, as it helps stimulate contraction of the gut muscles and prevent gas build-up leading to impacted colic.