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Ask Dr. Kellon

To me, good nutrition boils down to the difference between what will keep a horse alive, even reproducing, and what supports their maximum potential for health, growth and performance.  There's more difference between the two than you might suspect. 

Meeting the horse's basic nutritional requirements can have a dramatic impact on everything from coat, skin and hoof health to immune function.  To do that, you need to actually know what you're doing with feeding your horse.

Question
Hello Dr. Kellon, I am taking care of a 32 yr old QH gelding . He is doing well on a balanced senior diet but has pain from a bone chip in his stifle with soft tissue inflammation (per xrays). He is getting 1/4 pill of previcox daily per the vet and devil's claw. Topical Voltaren was recommended by the vet as well. He is still very sore. Is there anything else we can give him for his discomfort? He also gets glucosamine and chondroitin from MBH. Would Arthroxigen be a better choice?  Thank you for your time.

ANSWER:

Yes, this is an excellent prospect for Arthroxigen and should allow you to back off the NSAIDs and separate Devil's Claw.

If the chip is located near or between the articulating bone edges or the patella it may cause ongoing joint irritation and arthritic change but if outside the moving parts of the joint it will eventually quiet down.

Also important to be on the lookout for pain in related areas like the hips, back or SI joint on that side and the foot and tendons/ligaments on the opposite hind leg which is bearing more weight.

A horse this age should also be tested for Cushing's disease since the accompanying immune system dysfunction can result in exaggerated inflammatory responses.

Question:

Hello Dr Kellon,
My quarter horse with EPSM is doing great, thank you for all your help.
Now however, I bought a second horse a few months back and I am doing endurance rides with her (25 miles currently). This last weekend she tied up on me.  The ride vet said she was too cold and most likely low on calcium. It was snowing up there but I keep her blanketed, warm and dry and used a rump rug but she still tied up.  What calcium do you suggest I use?  I have her on redmonds daily red, sport pellets from Uckele, chia seeds, and Adm healthy glo for fats instead of grains for energy, and small amount alfalfa pellets. I was looking on Uckele website and I don't know what to get her or changes to make all together.  She is a 10 yr old Arabian mare
Crystal

ANSWER:

There are so many different possible reasons for tying up that it's hard to say much without blood work as a starting point.  One thing she's not though is PSSM.  Calcium issues occur in endurance horses when their chloride gets low and their blood becomes alkaline.  This leads to the active form of calcium (ionized calcium) becoming tied up by binding to proteins.  It's not really a deficiency, just that the calcium is inactivated.  This can be avoided with the correct salt and electrolyte supplementation.

Tying-up can also be an energy crisis in the muscle cells. Fats for energy only support very low speeds and they do not help replace the glycogen that gets burned by endurance work.

I would suggest you replace the Redmond salt with iodized table salt, sodium chloride.  Add at least 1 oz to her feed in cool weather, 2 oz if working between 1 and 2 hours that day.  If working over 2 hours on a day, also feed 1 serving of Pro-Lyte pellets or powder in addition to the 2 oz of salt.  This can all be spread out over the day.  Keep a plain white salt block available for her too.

I would suggest replacing some of your Healthy Glo with beet pulp.  This will better fuel her muscles.  On hard training days after endurance rides mix her beet pulp 50:50 with plain oats to help replace glycogen in her liver and muscles.

Question:

My 9yo Welsh cross mare is PSSM 1 diagnosed by mane DNA testing. She is more on the overweight side. I've changed her feed already from triple crown complete to a ration balancer instead. I tried adding cocosoya oil to her feed initially but she doesn't like oil at all. Currently her diet is:
1 lb Legends CarbCare Balancer Pellets
1lb Omegatin pellets (I added this in an effort to get more fat since she won't eat oil)
4ml KER Nano-E
2 oz Quiessence (we initially thought she was insulin resistant but her ACTH came back normal)
~10Lbs orchard grass hay soaked

-I'm concerned about adding too much fat because I've heard it can cause them to be insulin resistant. Should I use L-Carnitine or drop the fat and use ALCAR or neither?
-I've heard chromium (in the Quiessence) is bad for PSSM horses. Should I change to a magnesium only supplement?
-Also, i had considered using hay pellets or beet pulp for increased fiber or with oil if she would eat it. Which would be better? Alfalfa pellets, timothy pellets or alfalfa/timothy pellets. I was looking at the Standlee brand of these three. I feel like alfalfa hay makes her very hyper, but I wasn't sure if timothy pellets would be too high in NSC.

ANSWER:

With a horse that is already overweight and a genetic tendency (Welsh) to develop IR, you have nothing to lose by trying ALCar first.  Most people start to see response within 2 days to 2 weeks.  Give her 1 g/100 lbs body weight twice daily for 10 days, then once daily. http://equine.uckele.com/single-ingredients/acetyl-l-carnitine.html

CarbCare is a bit too high in sugar + starch (14%)  for some; Omegatin the same.  You may have to go to a concentrated vitamin/mineral supplement and plain beet pulp as a carrier.  Rinsed then soaked beet pulp is by far the safest.

Continue your E but use plain magnesium oxide (e.g. http://equine.uckele.com/vitamin-mineral/magnesium-oxide-58.html), 8 to 10 g/day of magnesium, because chromium will increase glucose intake by the muscle.

If you let us know where your hay was grown I can suggest an appropriate mineral supplement for your area or you could analyze your hay for a more precise fit.

Follow-Up Question:

Dr. Kellon, 

Thank you so much for your recommendations! This is certainly a journey that I wasn't expecting to be on! If I start the ALCAR, should I drop the omegatin since it is high in fat? If I understand correctly, the ALCAR is for the low/no fat added diets. 

As for vit/mineral supplement, I was considering SmartVite Perform pellets from smartpak. Any thought on that supplement or a different one that could be fed to meet requirements without having to use too many different supplements? I was aiming for that with the legends balancer pellets and increasing the fat with the omegatin. 

She has trouble sweating in the summer, but did well last year on OneAC. I don't know if anhydrosis has any relation to PSSM or would affect what her diet needs to be. 

I live in the piedmont of NC and the barn owner gets all her hay from this area. I have thought of getting it tested but she gets from multiple people.....30 or 40 bales here and 30 or 40 bales there so the hay is never very consistent unfortunately! The hay is usually orchard/Timothy or orchard/fescue. It used to be mostly orchard grass. I feel like the quality of the hay is probably not very good. Feeding beet pulp would also be a problem because the barn owner says it is too much trouble and too messy. I'm on the waiting list at another boarding barn for these reasons.

This mare was supposed to be my easy and simple horse! I greatly appreciate your input! Meredith

Follow-up ANSWER:

If you start ALCar, I would drop the Omegatin both for high fat and potentially too much starch/sugar.  The only added fat should be what's in 4 to 6 ounces of flax or a flax based omega3:omega6 4:1 supplement.

Anhidrosis is not related to PSSM. Mechanism remains poorly understood but you do want to make sure calcium and chloride needs are being met.

Many NC hays have a problem with low calcium/high phosphorus which complicates making any suggestions about how much magnesium to use or which vitamin/mineral supplement.  I would suggest asking if your hays always come from the same geographical area and if so go ahead and have an analysis done.  It may well vary a bit but is far better than blind guessing.

Follow-up Question:

Is there a flax supplement that you would recommend? Also, does the brand of beet pulp matter at all? I have access to Standlee and also Midwest Agri. I'm looking into doing the hay analysis. I saw on the website about mane testing for minerals etc. Do you think that would be beneficial to do on my mare? Sorry for so many questions! I want to make sure I'm doing everything to manage her PSSM and keep her healthy!  Meredith

Follow-Up ANSWER:

Uckele has a flax based supplement called Equi-Omega 4:1 which is excellent.  Brand of beet pulp isn't too important but whichever you use just be sure to thoroughly rinse (removes excess sugar and iron) before soaking.  Hair mineral would help confirm some deficiencies and other issues but won't be able to tell you about the calcium and major mineral issues in your hay because blood calcium levels (hair gets its minerals from blood) are tightly controlled hormonally.

Follow-Up Question:

Hi Dr. Kellon, 

I've switched my mare to the magnesium only supplement instead of the Quiessence that has chromium. She is also on ALCAR now and had the loading dose for ten days like you recommended. She's now down to the once daily with only the flax supplement as added fat. She's been on these since May 1st. I've also moved to a new barn who I've found is not feeding the beet pulp like they said they would. I wanted to check and see if the ALCAR can have any effect on their demeanor.

 

My mare is usually the in your pocket type and loves being groomed and messed with, always pleasant and fun to ride. Since starting the ALCAR and moving she has started biting, charging at me when in the stall, cribbing when in the stall and most recently cow kicked me when I asked her to move over in the cross ties. She's also been very unpleasant to ride, chomping at the bit constantly, chin tucked to her chest, has gotten rather spooky and also bucks with her canter departs. Could this have any relation to the ALCAR? I'm trying to figure out if it was a change in supplements or if it was a change in barns. 

Thanks for your assistance, Meredith

 Follow-up ANSWER:

 ALCar won't cause behavior changes.  If she is not getting her beet pulp, what are they feeding her?  How are they getting her magnesium and vitamin E into her?  Any progress on the hay analysis?

 Follow-Up Question:

She is still on the Legends CarbCare Balancer Pellets getting a total of a pound per day. I had dropped the Omegatin when we started the Alcar. I know we were aiming to get her off the balancer pellets as well by using the beet pulp as the route for getting supplements in her. The new barn she is at had told me they would feed the beet pulp but after I brought her there they have changed their tune! So, currently the balancer pellets is her source of her necessary vit/minerals. The pasture she is in at night is overgrazed and she gets barely one flake of hay in the stall during the day.

I have attached the hay sample results although it does not have selenium values unfortunately. I sent off three samples. The samples named "Pebbles' Hay" and "Kinzer's Hay" are the two that my horse was getting at the old barn. The one titled "chicken litter hay" was not being used for her because it was fertilized with chicken litter and had chicken parts found in it. I sent it off just because I was curious how it would result. These were all grown around the same area here in NC and is the typical source for the hay at my old barn, which I'm considering returning to.  Meredith

Follow-Up ANSWER:

If she hasn't already she should be losing weight on the diet described. Insufficient hay may also be behind her behavioral changes.

 As a feed option, go to your closest TSC store and ask them to order in NuZu Stabul 1 feed:

http://www.nuzufeed.com/7550%20Stabul.html

If you have any trouble, contact NuZu directly.

 An excellent choice for mineral balancing of the hay analyses you sent is Uckele U Balance Foundation pellets, at one scoop per day (half the full dose):

http://equine.uckele.com/vitamin-mineral/u-balance-foundation.html

One bucket would be a 4 month supply.

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