Due to Draft horses being prone to certain diseases such as, metabolic ailments like PSSM (Polysaccharide storage myopathy), laminitis, Cushings, founder, tying-up, and shivers diet is imperative. Based on these ailments, starch and sugar calories should be replaced by fiber and fat calories.
It is recommended that these guys have high quality forage and some concentrates while working due to their slower metabolism (similar to ponies). Meaning that the less energy they use, the more weight they gain. High carbohydrate feed should be avoided, as a forage with a rational balancer and/or a low NSC feed.
Breakdown of How To Feed A Draft Horse
- 15% daily calories from sugar
- 20-25% daily calories from, fat
- No less than 1% of horse’s body weight in forage
Calculating Fat Content:
Pounds of feed per day x % of fat
3 lbs of feed= 3 x 0.25= 0.75 lb fat
Feeds should have no more than 33% sugar and starch (low carb).
Low in starch and sugars: soy, beat pulp, wheat bran, wheat middlings
Feeds with 20%+ of fat should be supplemented with rice bran (20% fat). Feed with anything less than 20% should be supplemented with 100% additional fat source.
- Nutrena Compete
- Purina Strategy
- Blue Seal Hunter, Demand, Vintage Gold
- Southern States Legend
- Oil: soy oil, canola, corn oil, rice bran
- Vitamin E & Selenium supplement (be careful when adding in selenium as high levels can be toxic)
- Either Purina Strategy or Southern States Legend: No more than 5-6 lbs of feed per 1000 lbs
- Rice Bran Oil: begin with 1/4 cup and increase by 1/4 cup every few days until 2 cups are reached. Continue with 3-4 cups per day.
- Vitamin E with Selenium: 1-2 oz per day
- Forage: Alfalfa pellets mixed or substituted with Purina or Southern States feed
Mix 12 parts alfalfa (or Purina or Southern States Feed or mix of the two) with 1 part water. Soak for 10 minutes. Add in oil. Let it sit for 2+ hours. Right before feeding add in the supplement (Vet E/Selenium).
For the past 6 weeks, my horse has been receiving Ozonetherapy to aid in his chronic back leg related issues- dermatitis (“scratches”), previous DDFT tendon laceration, a history of Lymphingitis, and the residual scar tissue from his DDFT injury. Due to his age (27), he lacks proper circulation in his hind end which does not help him fight his pastern dermatitis.
According to the American Academy of Ozonetherapy, Ozonetherapy is described as;
“Ozonotherapy is the use of medical grade ozone, a highly reactive form of pure oxygen, to create a curative response in the body. The body has the potential to renew and regenerate itself. When it becomes sick it is because this potential has been blocked. The reactive properties of ozone stimulate the body to remove many of these impediments thus allowing the body to do what it does best – heal itself.”
“Ozonotherapy has been and continues to be used in European clinics and hospitals for over fifty years. It was even used here in the United States in a limited capacity in the early part of the 20th century. There are professional medical ozonotherapy societies in over ten countries worldwide. Recently, the International Scientific Committee on Ozonotherapy (ISCO3) was formed to help establish standardized scientific principles for ozonotherapy. The president of the AAO, Frank Shallenberger, MD is a founding member of the ISCO3.”
“Ozonotherapy was introduced into the United States in the early 80’s, and has been increasingly used in recent decades. It has been found useful in various diseases;
- It activates the immune system in infectious diseases.
- It improves the cellular utilization of oxygen that reduces ischemia in cardiovascular diseases, and in many of the infirmities of aging.
- It causes the release of growth factors that stimulate damaged joints and degenerative discs to regenerate.
- It can dramatically reduce or even eliminate many cases of chronic pain through its action on pain receptors.
- Published papers have demonstrated its healing effects on interstitial cystitis, chronic hepatitis, herpes infections, dental infections, diabetes, and macular degeneration.”
After doing research and speaking to one of my good friends, we determined that Chance’s flare up of Lymphingitis, after almost 3 years of not a single issue, could possibly be caused by his immune system’s response to Ozonetherapy. Let me explain.
Chance suffers from persistent Pastern dermatitis (“scratches”) since I purchased him in 2000. I have tried everything- antibiotics, every cream and ointment and spray for scratches, diaper rash ointment, iodine and vaseline mix, Swat, laser treatments, scrubs and shampoos, shaving the area, wrapping the area, light therapy…you name it, I have tried it. So, when we began Ozonetherapy to help break down the left over scar tissue from his old DDFT injury, I noticed that his scratches were drying up and falling off. We continued administering the Ozonetherapy once a week for about 6 weeks. The improvement was dramatic!
However, one day Chance woke up with severe swelling in his left hind leg and obviously, he had difficulty walking. He received Prevacox and was stall bound for 24 hours. The vet was called and she arranged to come out the following day. The next morning, Chance’s left leg was still huge and he was having trouble putting weight on it. I did the typical leg treatments- icing, wrapping. The swelling remained. I tried to get him out of his stall to cold hose his leg and give him a bath but he would not budge. He was sweaty and breathing heavily and intermittently shivering. So, I gave him an alcohol and water sponge bath and continued to ice his back legs. I sat with him for 4 hours waiting for the vet to arrive. He had a fever and wasn’t interested in eating and his gut sounds were not as audible. He was drinking, going to the bathroom, and engaging with me. I debated giving him Banamine but did not want it to mask anything when the vet did arrive.
The vet arrived, gave him a shot of Banamine and an antihistamine and confirmed that Chance had a fever of 102 degrees and had Lymphingitis. There was no visible abrasion, puncture, or lump… I asked the vet to do x-rays to ensure that he did not have a break in his leg. The x-rays confirmed that there was no break. The vet suggested a regiment of antibiotics, steroids (I really am against using steroids due to the short-term and long-term side effects but in this case, I would try anything to make sure he was comfortable) , prevacox, and a antacid to protect Chance from stomach related issues from the medications. It was also advised to continue to cold hose or ice and keep his legs wrapped and Chance stall bound.
The following day, Chance’s legs were still swollen but his fever had broken. The vet called to say that the CBC had come back and that his WBC was about 14,00o. She suggested that we stop the steroids and do the antibiotic 2x a day and add in Banamine. I asked her if she could order Baytril (a strong antibiotic that Chance has responded well to in the past) just in case. And that is what we did.
Being as Chance had such a strong reaction to whatever it was, I did some thinking, discussing, and researching…first and foremost, why did Chance have such an extreme flare up of Lymphingitis when he was the healthiest he has ever been? And especially since he had not had a flare up in 3+ years…plus, his scratches were getting better not worse. The Ozonetherapy boosted his immune system and should provide him with a stronger defense against bacteria, virus’, etc. So why exactly was he having a flare up? And that is when it hit me!
In the past when Chance began his regiment of Transfer Factor (an all natural immune booster), he broke out in hives. The vet had come out and she felt it was due to the Transfer Factor causing his immune system to become “too strong” and so it began fighting without there being anything to fight, thus the hives. My theory- Chance started the Ozonetherapy and his body began to fight off the scratches by boosting his immune system. As the treatments continued, his immune system began to attack the scratches tenfold. This resulted in his Lymphatic system to respond, his WBC to increase, and his body temperature to spike. Makes sense…but what can I do to ensure this is not going to happen again?
My friend suggested attacking the antibiotic resistant bacteria by out smarting them…okay, that seems simple enough…we researched the optimal enviroments for the 3 types of bacteria present where Chance’s scratches are (shown in the results of a past skin scape test). The bacteria – E. Coli, pseudomonas aeruginosa and providencia Rettgeri. The literature stated that PA was commonly found in individuals with diabetes…diabetes…SUGAR! How much sugar was in Chance’s feed? I looked and Nutrina Safe Choice Senior feed is low in sugar…so that is not it. What else can we find out? The optimal temperature for all three bacteria is around 37 degrees celsius (or 98.6 degrees fahrenheit), with a pH of 7.0, and a wet environment. Okay, so, a pH of 7.0 is a neutral. Which means if the external enviroment (the hind legs)pH is thrown off, either to an acidic or alkaline pH, the bacteria will not have the optimal enviroment to continue growing and multiplying. How can I change the pH?
Vinegar! An antimicrobial and a 5% acetic acid! And…vinegar is shown to help kill mycobacteria such as drug-resistant tuberculosis and an effective way to clean produce; it is considered the fastest, safest, and more effective than the use of antibacterial soap. Legend even says that in France during the Black Plague, four thieves were able to rob the homes of those sick with the plague and not become infected. They were said to have purchased a potion made of garlic soaked in vinegar which protected them. Variants of the recipe, now called “Four Thieves Vinegar” has continued to be passed down and used for hundreds of years (Hunter, R., 1894).
I went to the store, purchased distilled vinegar and a spray bottle and headed to the farm. I cleaned his scratches and sprayed the infected areas with vinegar. I am excited to see whether our hypothesis is correct or not…I will keep you posted!
References & Information
Hunter, Robert (1894). The Encyclopaedic Dictionary. Toronto: T.J. Ford. ISBN 0-665-85186-3.
I walked outside to sit on my porch and enjoy the evening, when I realized that the time is fast approaching where I can not longer do so without bundling up first. I decided it was time to get ready for the winter months ahead especially for my equine friends.
I have included articles, lists, resources, etc to help you make sure you and your horse are ready for the dropping temperatures!
Preparing Your Horse for Winter
By: Dr. Lydia Gray
Hot chocolate, mittens and roaring fires keep us warm on cold winter nights. But what about horses? What can you do to help them through the bitter cold, driving wind and icy snow? Below are tips to help you and your horse not only survive but thrive during yet another frosty season.
Your number one responsibility to your horse during winter is to make sure he receives enough quality feedstuffs to maintain his weight and enough drinkable water to maintain his hydration. Forage, or hay, should make up the largest portion of his diet, 1 – 2 % of his body weight per day. Because horses burn calories to stay warm, fortified grain can be added to the diet to keep him at a body condition score of 5 on a scale of 1 (emaciated) to 9 (obese). If your horse is an easy keeper, will not be worked hard, or should not have grain for medical reasons, then a ration balancer or complete multi-vitamin/mineral supplement is a better choice than grain. Increasing the amount of hay fed is the best way to keep weight on horses during the winter, as the fermentation process generates internal heat.
Research performed at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine showed that if during cold weather horses have only warm water available, they will drink a greater volume per day than if they have only icy cold water available. But if they have a choice between warm and icy water simultaneously, they drink almost exclusively from the icy and drink less volume than if they have only warm water available. The take home message is this: you can increase your horse’s water consumption by only providing warm water. This can be accomplished either by using any number of bucket or tank heaters or by adding hot water twice daily with feeding. Another method to encourage your horse to drink more in winter (or any time of the year) is to topdress his feed with electrolytes.
It may be tempting to give your horse some “down-time” during winter, but studies have found that muscular strength, cardiovascular fitness and overall flexibility significantly decrease even if daily turnout is provided. And as horses grow older, it takes longer and becomes more difficult each spring to return them to their previous level of work. Unfortunately, exercising your horse when it’s cold and slippery or frozen can be challenging.
First, work with your farrier to determine if your horse has the best traction with no shoes, regular shoes, shoes with borium added, shoes with “snowball” pads, or some other arrangement. Do your best to lunge, ride or drive in outside areas that are not slippery. Indoor arenas can become quite dusty in winter so ask if a binding agent can be added to hold water and try to water (and drag) as frequently as the temperature will permit. Warm up and cool down with care. A good rule of thumb is to spend twice as much time at these aspects of the workout than you do when the weather is warm. And make sure your horse is cool and dry before turning him back outside or blanketing.
A frequently asked question is: does my horse need a blanket? In general, horses with an adequate hair coat, in good flesh and with access to shelter probably do not need blanketed. However, horses that have been clipped, recently transported to a cold climate, or are thin or sick may need the additional warmth and protection of outerwear.
Horses begin to grow their longer, thicker winter coats in July, shedding the shorter, thinner summer coats in October. The summer coat begins growing in January with March being prime shedding season. This cycle is based on day length—the winter coat is stimulated by decreasing daylight, the summer coat is stimulated by increasing daylight. Owners can inhibit a horse’s coat primarily through providing artificial daylight in the fall but also by clothing their horse as the temperature begins to fall. If the horse’s exercise routine in the winter causes him to sweat and the long hair hampers the drying and cooling down process, body clipping may be necessary. Blanketing is then a must.
There are a number of health conditions that seem to be made worse by the winter environment. The risk of impaction colic may be decreased by stimulating your horse to drink more water either by providing warm water as the only source or feeding electrolytes. More time spent inside barns and stalls can exacerbate respiratory conditions like “heaves” (now called recurrent airway obstruction), GI conditions like ulcers, and musculoskeletal conditions like degenerative joint disease. Control these problems with appropriate management—such as increasing ventilation in the barn and increasing turnout time—and veterinary intervention in the form of medications and supplements.
Freeze/thaw cycles and muddy or wet conditions can lead to thrush in the hooves and “scratches,” or, pastern dermatitis, on the legs. Your best protection against these diseases is keeping the horse in as clean and dry surroundings as possible, picking his feet frequently, and keeping the lower limbs trimmed of hair. Another common winter skin condition is “rain rot,” caused by the organism Dermatophilus congolensis. Regular grooming and daily observation can usually prevent this problem, but consult your veterinarian if your horse’s back and rump develop painful, crusty lumps that turn into scabs.
I had the vet run some blood work on Luck and Chance as a precaution, because of the “Panic Grass” in Virginia has been causing liver failure in horses, and because I like to do a full work up every 6-12 months.
Chance’s Blood Work
INTERPRETATION OF RESULTS
Elevated Potassium (6.6 mEq/L):
“Low levels commonly indicate loss through excessive sweating, or through kidney or intestinal disease. Low levels may also be found in young foals with bladder damage. Increased sodium levels are usually a sign of dehydration” (http://www.minstervets.co.uk).
This was the most worrisome in regards to the potential immediate issues that could ensue because of the low platelet count.
“Glucose is the source of the body’s energy. It is measured in suspected cases of equine metabolic syndrome and sometimes in cases of equine Cushing’s disease. Blood glucose may also be measured as part of a glucose tolerance test, assessing small intestinal function” (http://www.minstervets.co.uk).
Levels 2-3x the highest number in range are considered significant according to vetstream.com. Levels are easily increased due to poor handling techniques as well as lab error.
According to Dr. Christine Woodford and Carla Baumgartner on vipsvet.com, “Elevations of CPK and SGOT are indictors of muscle inflammation–tying-up or rhabdomyolysis. The term “rhabdo” means muscle and “myolysis” means rupture of muscle cells. The CPK and SGOT are very sensitive indicators of skeletal muscle damage, and they rise in concentration proportionally with the amount of damage. A bit of timing is required in order to obtain the most sensitive results; CPK rises (due to its leakage from muscle cells into the blood system) approximately six to eight hours after the onset of muscle inflammation, and SGOT rises after approximately 12-14 hours. The absolute peak of CPK concentration and the time it takes to return to normal are important indicators of the severity of muscle damage and the response to therapy.”
Elevated MCV: Is the average volume of red blood cells.
- Indicates immature RBC in circulation (suggests regenerative anemia).
- Very rare in the horse, but may observe increasing MCV within normal range as horses increase erythropoiesis.
According to Vetstream.com, “Macrocytosis (increased MCV) resulting from release of immature RBC from the bone marrow during regeneration is very rare in the horse therefore the MCV is less useful in the horse than in other species.”
Elevated MCH: Is the average amount of hemoglobin in an individual red blood cell.
- Hemolysis, if intravascular in nature .
- Errors can occur during processing
Luck’s blood work
Elevated Potassium: Potassium can become elevated for a number of reasons.
According to Vetstream.com,
- 98% of potassium is intracellular.
- Changes in serum or plasma potassium levels reflect fluid balance, rate of renal excretion and changes in balance between intra- and extracellular fluid.
- Hypokalemia increases membrane potential, resulting in hyperpolarization with weakness or paralysis.
- Hyperkalemia decreases membrane potential with resulting hyperexcitability.
- Results can be false due to processing time (ie: if the lab waited too long to process blood sample)
- Immediately after high intensity exercise.
- In association with clinical signs in horses with hyperkalemic periodic paraysis (HYPP) .
- Bladder rupture (neonate) .
- Hypoadrenocorticism [Pituitary: adenoma] (rare).
- Metabolic acidosis.
- Acute renal failure .
- Extensive tissue damage (especially muscle).
- IV potassium salts, eg potassium benzyl penicillin, potassium chloride .
- Phacochromocytoma (rare in the horse).
- Chronic diarrhea.
- Diuretic therapy, especially potassium-losing diuretics.
- Excess bicarbonate/lactate therapy.
- Chronic liver disease .
- Acute renal failure (polyuric phase) .
- Recovery from severe trauma.
- Metabolic/respiratory alkalosis.
- Prolonged anorexia.
- Recovery period after high intensity exercise (30-60 min after).
- Parenteral feeding.
In combination with clinical signs and results of other tests results could signify the following;
* Donkeys tend to have 3x higher levels then horses. This means that in stead of the typical equine range being 1-35 U/L a typically donkey’s range would be up to ~105 U/L. Lucky’s test showed he had 120 U/L which is still elevated but not much. It took sometime to get Luck from the field when the vet arrived- he ran around non stop. The excitement and anxiety could be the cause of the elevated levels.
Katherine Wilson, DVM, DACVIM, of the Virginia–Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine (See more at: http://equusmagazine.com/article/decode-horses-bloodwork-27122#sthash.sc4J1ISJ.dpuf) explains “RBC count is probably the least helpful information because horses usually don’t have big changes in red blood cell numbers. It is not uncommon for horses to have an RBC count a little lower than normal range, however. The term we use for low RBC is anemia, but unless the count gets very low, a horse doesn’t necessarily need to be treated for that condition. A lot of diseases or any chronic long-term disease can cause mild anemia. Usually if we see mild anemia on the bloodwork and the horse has other issues, the anemia is just an indication that we need to fix/treat another problem.”
Low or Elevated Values
- Splenic contraction.
- Polycythemia (rare) .
- Consider causes of anemia
- Blood loss .
- Hemolysis (i in vivo or artifact).
- Decreased bone marrow production.
- Poor technique at sampling.
- Poor handling and storage of samples.
- Poor technique in laboratory.
Elevated Hemoglobin (19 g/dL):
According to vetstream.com, Thoroughbred and other “hot-blooded” horses Hemoglobin range differs from other equine- the thoroughbred range = 11.0-19.0g/l.
Elevated Hematocrit (54 %):
Elevated levels could be due to;
- Splenic contraction.
- Polycythemia .
“A measurement of the relative amount of red blood cells present in a blood
sample. After blood is drawn, a small tube is filled and centrifuged to separate the heavier
blood cells from the lighter white blood cells and the even lighter fluid (plasma or serum)
portion. A higher than normal reading generally indicates dehydration (same number of
cells in less plasma volume) or may be due to splenic contraction secondary to
excitement or the demands of exercise. A low reading may indicate anemia, though not
invariably. Highly fit athletic horses may normally have a slightly lower hematocrit at
rest due to an overall more efficient cardiovascular system. Evaluation of true anemia in
horses requires several blood samples over a 24-hour period” (Susan Garlinghouse, 2000/ http://www.equinedoc.com/PrideProjectInfo.html).
It took sometime to get Luck from the field when the vet arrived- he ran around non stop. The excitement and anxiety could be the cause of the elevated levels.
According to horseprerace.com, “Low levels indicate depletion and are often a predisposing factor, along with dehydration, in fatigue, muscle cramps, colic, synchronous diaphragmatic flutter (“thumps”), diarrhea and other symptoms of exhausted horse syndrome. Even seemingly normal or high-normal levels may in reality be lower, but appear higher due to concentration secondary to dehydration as measured by total protein and albumin levels. Therefore, levels at the lower end of the normal range should be evaluated relative to concurrent dehydration.”
More information on your horse’s blood work
The vet suggested that I add water to Luck’s and C’s feed in case their values are due to dehydration. She also explained that some of the values may be a result of running around in the field right before drawing them along with anxiety.
The anxiety and running around seemed fair but I am hesitant on the dehydration portion. Yes, I know it is winter and that horses are less likely to drink as much water. But if it were due to dehydration then the Albumin would be low as well. But, the blood work revealed that the Albumin was 2.8 (Luck) and 3.2 (Chance). These values are within the normal range…. that being said, the results could also be due to lab handling especially the Potassium levels.
While speaking with my uncle Jerry (the horse whisperer), he suggested adding a salt block to the horse’s feed. This will increase the horse’s thirst which will get them drinking more. I also added heated water buckets so that the water won’t freeze and in case they are less inclined to drink when the water is cold.
In order to feel comfortable about my horse and donkey being healthy, I will have more blood work done this week to make sure everything is in fact okay.
The vet came out to give Chance and Lucky their fall shots and do some follow up acupuncture on Chance. The vet said that Chance has increased flexibility especially in his cervical spine and has gained weight and muscle mass!!!!!!
His feeding regiment is as follows:
- 6 quarts of Nutrina Safe Choice Senior Feed
- 3 quarts hay stretcher
- Alfalfa hay mix (as much as he wants through out the day)
- 6 quarts of Nutrina Safe Choice Senior Feed
- 3 quarts hay stretcher
- Alfalfa hay mix (as much as he wants through out the day)
- 1 Scoops of DuraLactin (Natural anti-inflammatory and pain supplement)
- 1 SmartPak (Senior Flex, Immune Boost)
He is out all day when it is cool and all night when it is hot during the day. So he has tons of green grass to eat. He walks constantly- up and down the hills- and runs around with Lucky. We also walk ground poles and do stretches and massage every time I come out to the barn.
We still need to continue upping his weight and muscle mass preferably before winter. Fingers crossed.
Chance is now on 6 quarts of Nutria Senior Feed with 2 quarts of Hay Stretcher and 2 cups of Rice Bran TWICE A DAY! That is 12 quarts of feed a day and 4 quarts of Hay Stretcher plus his alfalfa mixed hay!
At night he also receives his SmartPak (Senior Flex, Immune Boost, and Vitamin C) & DuraLactin (for inflammation and swelling). He is no longer skin and bones or on daily pain medication!
Two days ago Chance’s vet came out to do a follow up and to give him and Luck their Spring shots.
Chance got some chiropractic adjustments and acupuncture as well. The vet stated that Chance was showing improvements in his Cervical (neck) flexibility and still had some tightness on his hind-end. She did one new stretch with him which entailed her lifting his front leg while her assistant had him bend his neck to the opposite side. He was able to do it on both sides while remaining balanced!!!! Where as before he could barely do cervical stretch with all four legs on the ground!
The vet said that Chance has gained weight and could use another 50-75lbs. She asked if he is finishing his dinner (4q twice a day) to which I answered yes. She suggested upping his feed to another quart twice a day totaling 5 quarts twice a day.
Chance’s feed schedule now includes the following:
AM: 5 q of Safe Choice Senior Feed by Nutrina, Transfer Factor (immune system booster), MicroLactin (for pain and inflammation). Hay Alfalfa mix, and 2q of Hay Stretcher
PM: 5 q of SCSF, SmartPak (Senior Flex supplement, immune system enhancer), Hay/alfalfa mix, and 2 q of Hay Stretcher.
Lucky got his first round of shots today and he was so well behaved! He stood there calmly and put his head under my arm while he got his shots.
The vet also took a look at Luck’s teeth.
There are four ways to age an equine by his teeth:
- Occurrence of permanent teeth
- Disappearance of cups
- Angle of incidence
- Shape of the surface of the teeth
Well, Luck still has two baby teeth which do not seem to have adult teeth behind them that would ordinarily push out the baby teeth. So there goes option 1.
His teeth no longer have cups on them and are completely smooth which indicates he is around age 10/11.
I, along with Luck’s most recent owner, thought he was about 5 years old. However, his teeth seem to tell a different story. I’m wondering if the fact that Luck still has two of his baby teeth could be the reason for the cups prematurely disappearing? Or if he really is 10/11 years old….guess it’s time for a dental appointment.