The horse's digestive system
While many other farm animals, like cows, have multiple compartments in their stomachs, horse do not. They only have one big stomach. But actually, it's not even that big considering the size of the entire horse. Naturally, in the wild, horses eat very small amounts of roughage, like grass, but they do so very often, almost constantly in fact. Their body and especially their stomach and digestive system is made to be always filled with small amounts of food. Due to us keeping horses, having domesticated them, we've also forced them to change their eating habits. Especially horses that are stabled all day only have feed at their disposal for 2, maybe 3 times a day to fit our lifestyle. Often, the things we feed them are also less easy to digest for horses. If there are problems with digestion of your horse, a good starting point is to think: "what do I feed my horse? how often is my horse being fed?" and see if any changes to this can already make a visible change to the horse. And of course, if there's big problems in the digestive system, we strongly advise to always consult a vet.
How to spot digestive problems
The easiest way to spot digestive problems in the horse is of course by looking at the poop. Diarrhea, constipation or a lack of pooping are all signs that something is wrong in the digestive system. Other behavioural symptoms can also become visible, though usually this is only in more extreme cases, such as colic. These could include kicking the stomach, pawing the ground, excessive rolling, increased sweating, extreme weakness, tiredness or restlessness.
In less problematic cases of digestion problems, a lack of appetite or bloating can show.
If your horse is turned out mostly on sand, it is also very possible that it eats some of it. In those cases, supplements to get the sand out of the stomach are necessary and can also be given preventatively, to avoid an emergency like a sand colic from even happening.
If your horse is lacking energy or appetite, feeding oils with the normal hard feed is a great way to get your horse back on track. Oils are easier to digest than muesli or other hard feed is, so they are also easier on the digestive system and the horse can extract more energy from oil for less effort.
Like said before, the diet most of us have our horses on is not actually ideal and far from what a horse has evolved to be. If there's long lasting problems with the horse's digestion, please consult a vet and potentially a nutritional expert to see what exactly the problem with your horse is. If your horse seems to be lacking appetite in the sense that you often see if leaving food behind, making an appointment with the dentist to have the horse's mouth and teeth checked is also a good idea.
Adapting the horse's diet to be more of a diet actually suited for horses is a crucial step in treating digestive problems and using supplements as a quick fix should not be valued more than doing actual research into your horse's issues and needs.
Similarly however, suddenly changing the entire feeding routine will also be troublesome to the horse. If you make changes and adaptions, do them step by step and if possible in cosultation with experts.
Digestive supplements at Epplejeck
to help the horse's digestions at Epplejeck from the comfort of your home. Our virtual doors are open 24/7 for you and ordering is quick and easy. We always strive to send out your package just a few days after your order comes in, so your wait time is minimal. If something doesn’t fit, simply send it back to us within 30 days – no questions asked!