The Way of Horses: Natural Defenders

They neutralize insur-

gents before damage can be done.

They are the Antioxi-

dants; defenders of the healthy horse!

Moving throughout your

By Eleanor Blazer Copyright @ 2019

Natural Defenders They are the Special Forces within

your horse’s body.

horse are damaged molecules called free radicals. These molecules were corrupted by drugs, chemicals, preservatives and other impurities introduced to your horse via oxygen (air). The free radicals are elec-

trically imbalanced and attack healthy body tissues. They steal fat, protein, DNA and electrical charges from the healthy cells. This creates a chain reaction;


havoc throughout your horse’s body.

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Continuous damage to

healthy body tissues results in increased risk of infection, in- flammation and fatigue. As a horse ages these problems be- come more apparent as the free radicals increase in numbers. Performance horses, horses fighting chronic illness and horses under stress are also prime targets of free radicals. Enter our heroes – The

Antioxidants. Antioxidants help prevent

the spreading of free radicals. They stop the chain reaction.

Antioxidants “sweep up” the insurgents. Members of the Antioxi-

dant Special Forces are vita- mins A, C, E; the minerals - selenium and zinc; and lipoic acid. Antioxidants are provided to the horse through diet and a few are manufactured (synthe- sized) by the horse. Offering a balanced diet

to your horse will generally provide the needed antioxi- dants. This diet should include plenty of fresh high quality for- age and a commercial product designed to complement that forage. If the forage and grain being offered are of poor qual- ity a vitamin/mineral supple- ment may be needed; but only if you are sure the nutrients are deficient. Vitamin A is present in

fresh pasture and top quality al- falfa hay. Grass hay and raw grain (oats, corn, barley and wheat) do contain some levels of vitamin A, but not enough. If your horse does not have ac- cess to fresh pasture or alfalfa hay a commercial product should be provided that con- tains sufficient amounts of the vitamin. Over-supplementing with

vitamin A can create a toxic sit- uation. The upper-safe limit

for a 1,100-pound horse is 80,000 IU (International Units) per day. You must read labels and calculate how much vita- min A your horse is receiving if you are feeding many prod- ucts that contain high levels of the vitamin. The average rec- ommended amount of vitamin A for a 1,100-pound horse is around 30,000 IU per day. Vitamin C is provided by

fresh leafy green forage. Healthy horses can also syn- thesize their own vitamin C. It is a concern that senior horses may not be able to produce vi- tamin C internally as well as younger horses. Vitamin C is not toxic if

over-supplemented. Large doses can cause stomach up-set and interfere with the absorp- tion of vitamin B-12. Four and one half grams per day of vita- min C is the recommended level for a 1,100-pound horse. The best source of Vita-

min E is raw unprocessed or cold processed vegetable oil. Cooking oil purchased from the grocery store has been sta- bilized, which destroys the vi- tamin E. Grain, hay and grass con-

tain vitamin E. But during storage or processing (rolling, crimping, crushing, etc.) the vi-

tamin breaks down. Commercial feed manu-

factures add vitamin E to their rations. If you decide to sup- plement vitamin E chose a product from a reputable man- ufacturer and follow the direc- tions.

Selenium is available in

the forage and grain if the geo- graphical area contains suffi- cient amounts in the soil. Unfortunately many parts of the country are deficient – in- cluding northeast Ohio. Commercial feed manu-

factures have taken the sele- nium deficiencies

in to

consideration when formulat- ing rations. If a good quality product is offered…and fed at the recommended feeding rates stated on the feed tag… the horse should meet his require- ments. Selenium can be toxic if

over-supplemented. 3.3 mg/kg of diet can produce toxicity. Be aware of the amounts you are offering your horse if sev- eral supplements are being fed. Zinc is available to the

horse via grain, hay and pas- ture. But not at the levels needed to meet NRC (National Research Council) recommen- dations. Commercial feed manu-

Yor coplete equine soutios patne since 1987 Booking fencing installations now through the summer!

factures add zinc to their ra- tions. If the product is fed ac- cording to the


recommendations the zinc re- quirements will be met. Pre- mium feeds designed for the performance or reproduction horse will be well fortified. Zinc has a low risk of tox-

icity. But high levels can inter- fere with the absorption of copper. A ratio of 3 parts cop- per to 1 part zinc is recom- mended. If you decide to add a supplement make sure you chose one that is balanced. Lipoic acid is synthesized

by the horse. Some commer- cial supplements designed for the performance horse will contain lipoic acid in the for- mula.

Supporting the Antioxi-

dant Special Forces by provid- ing a balanced diet and feeding according to the directions is important

to your horse’s

heath. With your help the in- surgents can be kept under con- trol.

* Earn Professional Certifica- tion as Horse Trainer, Stable Manager or Riding Instructor. All courses are online. Visit www.equinestudiesinstitute.or g for information.


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