Equine Wellness: Health and Nutrition with Jean Klosowicz, Superior Equine Health and Nutrition Inc.

Does Your Horse Require A Specialized Diet?

to meet their personal re- quirements. These diets ex- amine in detail available forages, processed and nat- ural feeds, organic and inor- ganic

supplements, Many horses require spe-

cialized diets to optimize health and performance, to properly support a health condition (short or long term), to support aging and longevity, or growth. Horses undergoing long term stress can also benefit from specialized diets.

It doesn’t

matter if the horse is a pasture pet or an olympic athlete, many horses benefit from these diets

medications, etc. The key factors to consider when formulating the optimal diet include: product availabil- ity, affordability, degree of horse health and/or demand, product knowledge, interac- tions, and of course the horse! The unique specifics of a horse often will make the process of finding the ideal diet a “trial and error” or “work in progress” process. Not all horses with similar conditions will respond favourably to one type of diet. But once the ideal combination is found, re- sults will be noticeable, and your horse will be healthier and happier! So what are the steps in

finding that ideal special- ized diet? Let’s go through an example to better under- stand. My horse, Nikah, was 8 years old when she was diagnosed with PPID (aka Cushings). An unex- pected series of unusual events (pulled hind muscles followed

quickly by

ments were seen (or not) based on the season (winter vs. sum- mer).

My first step is to choose

optimal forages for that partic- ular horse. Then, balance the vitamins and minerals in the diet by adding feeds and sup- plements to compensate for any deficiencies in the forage. My “Forage is First” rule always applies to every situation and to every horse. In cases of PPID, I look for forages “good” in quality, low in sugars and starches and low levels of iron. (The only way of determining forage suitability for any horse is through a forage analysis,

founder in the front hooves) caused an immediate need to investigate further if there were any underlying health issues. In this case, it took some time to try different supplements, forages and combinations to find out what really worked for her. The goal was to optimize her health as much as possible, while keeping any inflamma- tion at a minimum. I immedi- ately created a journal to track diet changes and responses. With each adjustment I would wait 30 to 60 days (and some- times longer) to determine if there were any improvements. In some cases, these improve-

choose which one works best with the forage and her condition. Then I add specific nutrients


would further boost and support her health, and I must say I am very pleased with the results! Her diet consists of quality hay, a small amount of pelletized commer- cial feed (no grain), a premium vitamin/mineral supplement, probiotics, flax, and additional supplementation of Biotin + Zinc, Vitamin E and C, Sele- nium, and Magnesium. Not all supplements

are created

equally so each are chosen carefully. She still remains on her 1 mg of Pergolide per day and is routinely moni- tored to keep her as healthy and comfortable as possible. It has been a difficult jour- ney to recovery since the ini- tial episode, but formulating the ideal diet for her has made all the difference to her health, hooves and qual- ity of life. Do you have a horse that

requires a specialized diet? Do you need help in deter- mining the best combina- tion? Send an email to

which is relatively inexpensive to do.) Not all hays are created the same, and variability de- pends upon growing season, soil conditions, location, har- vest date, etc. Because Nikah had a severe case of founder (rotation) she was immediately removed from pasture and to this day remains strictly on hay. Horses with PPID are at an in- creased

risk of

laminitis/founder so pasturing in many cases may not be an option. This is because sugar, starch and fructan levels are often highly variable and un- predictable in pasture grasses. The results of the forage

analysis is then inputted into software (Feed My Horse Nu- trition Software) to determine what I need to add to optimize her diet. Because there are many different vitamin/mineral supplements on the market, this software makes it easy to

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Jean Klosowicz Equine Nutrition Consultant and Educator Superior Equine Health and Nutrition Inc. Bruce Mines, ON www.superiorequinenutrition.c om f. @SuperiorEquine

[All values are expressed on a Dry Matter Basis (DM); ppm (mg/kg) refers to concentration in the total diet; NRC refers to NRC’s Nutrient Requirements of Horses, 6th ed.]

All articles are for general in- formation purposes only and are not intended to replace the advice of a veterinarian, or pro- vide a diagnosis for your horse.

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