Monday, December 7, 2009

What to believe?

One of the commenters on yesterday's installment of Fugly Horse of the Day posted with this link:

Horse Feeding Myths and Misconceptions

I've heard many of these myths, and I'm sure you have too. I already knew some weren't true, such as that grain doesn't make horses hyper — excess calories does. Others — such as that you don't have to soak beet pulp — I didn't know.

The problem with things like this is what to believe. It's not just science vs. conventional wisdom, either — the horse industry is one of those that is riddled with many different, usually conflicting, ways of doing things.

So what do you believe? I for one believe you should go with what seems right to you. For instance, since I know a lot about human nutrition, it has always made sense to me that overfeeding has a lot more bearing on a horse's activity levels than what you are feeding. (People often forget that when feeds such as straight alfalfa and certain grains have more calories in them, you have to reduce the amount you feed.) But you should also go with what seems right for your horse — as the article points out, horses are individuals and have different ways of responding. For instance, when overfed some horses become hyper, whereas others are quite content to move at the pace of a slug while they pack on the pounds.

What in the article makes sense to you? What are you skeptical about in regards to your own experiences or your individual animals?



At December 7, 2009 at 2:26 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You DO have to soak beet pulp shreds - in lots of water and for at least 20 minutes - we had a bad case of choke when someone feeding at our barn didn't do that. This is particularly critical with older horses with poor or missing teeth.

And the type of feed and its composition do make a difference - it's not just calories - proteins, fats and carbohydrates are digested differently - think glycemic index and you've go the idea.

At December 7, 2009 at 2:33 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

But overall a pretty good article. We use only plain white salt blocks - some of the colored blocks are formulated for cows and have stuff in them which is not good for horses.

At December 7, 2009 at 6:18 PM, Blogger Katharine Swan said...

I still don't buy it that grain makes horses hyper. Besides what I already know about my own horse, it just doesn't make sense based on what I know about human nutrition. Glycemic index is just another dietary fad like Atkins, by the way. Foods with a slower absorption rate are better for you because they are less processed and contain more nutrients, not because it takes longer for the sugar to hit your bloodstream. Non-diabetics really don't have to worry about that.

Furthermore, higher sugar concentration in the bloodstream does NOT give you more energy. I can't emphasize this enough -- I am diabetic, I KNOW this is false. When sugar hits the bloodstream faster, it just means that the body has to get to work sooner in order to store it -- whether it is carbs or protein or fat, unneeded energy is stored. So there is no reason why sweet feed would provide more energy just because it has a higher sugar content.

At December 8, 2009 at 4:57 PM, Blogger Veronica said...

I fed sweet feed for a while. I stopped once feedtime became a little bit of a nightmare as they were both so 'up' that they'd forget their manners.

Although I don't think that was the sugar/grain content doing it, I think that they were just excited to be getting sweet feed which they loved. They'd sort through their buckets and eat all the sweet stuff first before settling down to finish up their chaff.

There are so many myths and old wives tales, I'm inclined to go with what works for us and them. (They've got 24/7 pasture too)


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