In our November 2018 issue we asked nutritionist Nikki Meggison to explain to us the concept of feeding our horses cafeteria style. Reader Sian Barton is a big fan and here she explains how it helped cure her horse of ulcers.
“Two years ago, my ex-racehorse horse Kama, who was 11 at the time was competing at Novice level eventing. He looked well, but in the dressage phase I could tell he wasn’t right. He felt like he was holding his breath and having had him for seven years I knew this wasn’t normal for him. As a first step I took him to the vet who scoped him and sadly discovered he had grade four, bleeding ulcers. I was, of course devastated. To manage this as well as I could, I spoke to a nutritionist and between us we decided to up his fibre intake to as much as possible and reduce the amount of starch he ate. Before his ulcers, Kama was eating around 6 kilos of hay per day when he was stabled, which was overnight in the winter and during the day in the summer.
His feeding regime, once he was home from the vets was 6 kilos of hay in a haynet, 6 kilos in a haybar and 1 – 2 kilos of high fibre chaff in a bowl. He had this all at once while he was in, so he could graze from one to the other as he liked. He also had three small feeds a day, to make sure he kept on nibbling. In total, his fibre intake was increased by around 7 kilos. The vet had prescribed omeprazole too, which helped to reduce the amount of acid in his stomach. Eight weeks later, and to my amazement he was fully recovered, and he had changed quite a bit too. Before his change of diet to cafeteria style, he lacked topline and his abs were rounder than I’d like. Now he looks fab, with toned abs and more muscle over his neck and withers. He has always been a sweet horse, but he’s been even more willing since being cleared and he no longer needs the omeprazole, which was stopped at eight weeks.
Although I don’t event him anymore as he has a touch of arthritis, he’s become a very happy hacker. I always make sure he gets a small amount of chaff before we go out so his stomach isn’t empty, and we’ve had no sign of ulcers since.
I would urge all owners to think about feeding this way. Even my four-year-old is on this regime as a preventative measure and he’s doing really well on it. Yes it can be a bit more expensive, but it’s worth it to avoid the problems that can arise with horse not eating enough fibre over a longer period of time.
Don’t miss the latest issue of Your Horse Magazine, jam-packed with training and veterinary advice, horse-care tips and the latest equestrian products available on shop shelves, on sale now. Find out what’s in the latest issue here