Nutrition Topics 2012
A sampler, if you will, of 2012 Nutrition topics:

When to Add Oils to the Diet
First and foremost: NOT IF YOUR HORSE IS FAT!

In a significantly underweight horse or a heavily exercising horse (eventing or endurance horses, for example) oils may be added. Oils add significant calories without increasing bulk, tend to moderate the blood glucose rise after feeding so horses are usually quieter on a higher fat diet, and they may be able to exercise with cooler muscles. It takes at least 30 days for a horse to modify its metabolism to handle an increased fat diet efficiently. It is important to not go above 10-15% of the total energy needs with added oil because it may then reduce the horse’s ability to absorb and utilize sugar.

How to Feed Oil
We generally start low (1/4 cup) at a feeding and over a month’s time increase up to 1 cup twice daily if needed. You’ll need to wash feeders and measuring tools frequently.

What Kind of Oil?
If your horses just need calories, the type isn’t critical and corn oil may be the most palatable to the horse. But there is a difference in oils. As with people, fish oil is the most anti-inflammatory of all oils because it contains Omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA, but horses are not fond of salmon.

Flaxseed oil and canola oil are balanced sources of Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids with higher amounts of Omega-3. Soy has more Omega-6 than Omega-3, as does corn oil, but still can be used for straight calories. Keep in mind that all grains, and especially corn, have high levels of omega 6 fatty acids. So what’s the big deal with fatty acids?

Fatty Acids
Horses require fatty acids for optimum skin and hair condition and cellular metabolic functions. Ideally both Omega-3 and Omega-6 should be available in approximately a 2:1 to 5:1 ratio.

  • Omega-3: (ALA, EPA and DHA) have an anti-inflammatory effect in the body and may help with skin allergies and osteoarthritis. There are three essential sources:
    • Pasture will have ALA.
    • Flaxseed contains alpha-linolenic acid (ALA)
    • Fish (salmon) for EPA or DHA
    • Algae contains some DHA

  • Omega-6: are associated with cell membrane functions and metabolism, but in high amounts may actually be inflammatory. Sources are grains, corn oil, rice bran oil, safflower oil, sunflower oil, and soy oil (which also has some omega-3).
Some commercial preparations of oils with known fatty acid content include:
  • Triple Crown Rice Bran Oil Plus: A high-fat supplement to provide calories as well as a 1:1 balanced Omega fatty acid compliment. It contains Rice bran oil, Flaxseed Oil and Soy Oil.
  • Platinum 'Healthy Weight': Aflax oil, vitamin E oil fed 1/4 to 1/3 cup 1-2 times daily.
Some commercial preparations of fatty acids include:
  • Triple Crown Omega Max: Flax with ratio of 3.51 to 1 omega-3 ALA to omega-6
  • Triple Crown Fish Oil Powder: 1.93 to 1. (also contains flaxseed)
  • Platinum Skin and Allergy: algal omega-3 DHA
Colorado State University has an ongoing study regarding the use of omega-3 fatty acids in the treatment of osteoarthritis in horses. Certainly the evidence is there for both humans and dogs. We’ll keep you updated as clinical studies are completed.

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