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  1. #1
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    Default Withholding food prevents colic

    Got your attention?

    So, I work at this place that sometimes I think is fine and other times I want to strangle myself with a grungy standing wrap.

    Here's today's mystery; Because it was especially hot and the horses were working extra hard today, I was told we would be feeding the horses 2hrs late, after the horses were all done working, to prevent colic. Sooo, that pretty much goes against everything I know, and since having spent the last several years around Endurance, I have been actively encouraging horses to eat every time a fistful of grass presents itself, not just despite the heat and effort but because of it.

    I know I don't agree with this recommendation. What I don't get, is where did it come from? What's the logic here? Is this something people used to do or is it based on something about equine biology I'm not considering?

    FWIW: These horses are on a cube only diet, but have opportunities to grab grass throughout the day (thank goodness, but that wasn't being taken into consideration, I assure you). We ended up finishing early and they were fed at their usual time today.
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  2. #2
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    Default

    Many old timers would tell you they were correct. I was taught that if a horse was hot, you waited till he was cool to eat more than the mouthful he could snatch on the way back to the barn.

    If all the horses were working hard in the heat today, then yah, I might delay feed a while until I knew they were all cooled completely down. Depending on the time frame, I might let them have a little flake of hay to nibble, but most likely, I would hose them and let them cool a while before feeding a grain meal. It is kinda like you working outside all day, getting hot and sweaty then immediately sitting down to a heavy meal. It would make me sick, so why not err on the side of caution.
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  3. #3
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    Default

    That helps me understand.

    So is withholding food based on how rich it is, or the length of time since they ate last? Like if there's already a gap, maybe you would let them cool before feeding, which is maybe different from endurance horses who are presumably having something every hour or two?

    In my understanding, erring on the side of caution would be to keep their guts moving throughout the day. But I can definitely see how the richness of the food could be an issue. The recommendation in endurance is to feed hay before grain at a vet check, and grass hay before alfalfa, but I bet at least half of people just do grain first on the principle that whatever they can get their horse to eat is better than nothing. Horses who have crummy gut sounds or get into mild colic territory are, without any exception I can remember, horses who haven't been eating.

    Comparing my lunch to a horse's is apples and oranges, but I still do it all the time to illustrate a point In your example, I still think it's better to have some rich food than none at all. As a human. Working in the same conditions as the horses described, I deal with this issue a lot. As a horse? Once the gut stops moving I think you're in trouble. I can see how introducing a lot of grain to that scenario would be worse, but why not just not let the horses get to that point in the first place? Only one horse in the barn gets grain (senior, sweet) but he is also the only one who gets hay instead of cubes. He colicked recently and it was blamed on him having too much hay. Which I also disagree with.

    So, if you are, for some reason, feeding a grain meal and you suspect they are already stressed, let them cool off rather than feed straight away.

    Would you do the same with horses on cubes and who are used to cubes?
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  4. #4
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    Default

    You cannot compare a human stomach to the workings of a horse.
    What type of colic are they thinking they will avoid by not feeding? Most colics are brought on by A) a impaction could be from eating a fine hay that they are stuffing themselves with such as a southern coastal, or yes cubes have been known to bring on impactions, sand, a diet of large amounts of grain, or gas colic that has a variety of causes, weather,stress, also food.
    Common sense would say if a horse is hot, sweaty and still blowing from work you would not feed grain at that time. But most horses guts benefit from having something in them.



  5. #5
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  6. #6
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    Default

    From the article:

    If you are still taking part in competition (for example you are at a vet check point in an endurance ride) you should limit the meal to 200 g of grain per kg of bodyweight (or 0.2 lb per 100 lb of bodyweight) so that you don't induce a large increase in blood insulin levels (as discussed in Newsletter #16).

    Someone needs to check the math. For a 1000lb horse, 200 grams of grain per kilo of body weight = 200 grams x 454kg = 90,800 grams = roughly 200lbs of grain.

    I'm sure it's a typo but someone should have caught that.



  7. #7
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    Default

    During exercise there is less blood flow to the GI system. Once exercise stops and the body returns to normal, digestion returns to normal relatively abruptly so the stomach contents get processed all at once. That is why you sometimes see marathon runners get water intoxication as they process all the water they took in over the course of the race all at once. Like anything else, moderation is the key.



  8. #8
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    Default

    I've always just been told this by vets. Never questioned why. Maybe don't wait a couple hours but at least wait until the horse is cooled down. I will give my one about a quarter scoop of Timothy pellets soaked in water after work. It's not much but it also gets water into him but never a full meal until he is cooled.
    Horses aren't our whole life, but makes our life whole



  9. #9
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    Default

    When I endurance rode we let the horses eat or drink all the wanted but they had to keep moving. If they were to just stand around I would wait a good hour before letting them eat if they were still hot to cool out fully.
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  10. #10
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    If you've got a hot horse then walk it out and cool it down. That might mean as much as 30 min. of easy walking or it might mean a relatively few minutes. Then, once the horse is cooled, feed and water as appropriate.

    Waiting two hours to "cool down" makes no sense. Waiting two hours to cool down in a stall might even be dangerous.

    Walk the horse out and the problem is solved before there is a problem.

    G.
    Mangalarga Marchador: Uma Raça, Uma Paixão



  11. #11
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    Jun. 26, 2009
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    Default

    [QUOTE=Gnalli;6593732]Many old timers would tell you they were correct. I was taught that if a horse was hot, you waited till he was cool to eat more than the mouthful he could snatch on the way back to the barn.
    ...
    QUOTE]

    This is also what I was told eons ago, and more recently as well.
    So, just the other night when Gambler (mule) decided he was the main event at a rodeo/race track at feeding time, I thought it best if he waited a bit to eat.
    I fed the horses (3) cleaned and filled water barrels before he got his soaked pellets/supplements. The horses had been put in their corrals, he was left to cool out by walking around the arena and his corral (which doesn't have a gate). In total he waited maybe 30 minutes.
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  12. #12
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    Default

    I understand better now where this recommendation is coming from, so thanks all! It totally makes sense to me that a horse who has worked hard and is not cooled down should not have grain. No issue there. Since these horses never go faster than a walk and we are talking about there usual hay cubes at their usual time, it's a pretty different scenario. By the time they are unsaddled and rinsed they are cooled down even on the hot and sweaty days.

    Quote Originally Posted by nextyear View Post
    You cannot compare a human stomach to the workings of a horse.
    What type of colic are they thinking they will avoid by not feeding? Most colics are brought on by A) a impaction could be from eating a fine hay that they are stuffing themselves with such as a southern coastal, or yes cubes have been known to bring on impactions, sand, a diet of large amounts of grain, or gas colic that has a variety of causes, weather,stress, also food.
    Common sense would say if a horse is hot, sweaty and still blowing from work you would not feed grain at that time. But most horses guts benefit from having something in them.
    Totally agree with all of this. Concerns are for impactions and gas.

    Your barn is right - absolutely, horses should not eat right after any hard work. I learned this was critical when I took up foxhunting. After we hunt, which can be 4-5 hours, the horses are rested for at least 3 hours. They can drink obviously, but feeding is postponed. I know what you're saying, that withholding food would seem to bring on colic. Horses should have a steady supply of food throughout the day to have their systems moving, but after a big workout, their system needs to slow down, temperatures get back to normal, otherwise that creates an upset stomach. Just like, would you have a big meal after a run? It'd make you feel sick. Horses are no different.

    In addition to that feeding schedule, you may want to consider adding electrolytes to the feed. It helps them recover and also aids with digestion.
    I really appreciate knowing this about hunting, which I long desperately to participate in. Yet, as I said, I can't recall a colicky endurance horse (7-8yrs of conditioning, competing and volunteering P&R and vet scribe) that wasn't correlated with a lack of food intake. I know hunt horses aren't generally permitted to eat during a hunt, so recovery recommendations may be different (good to know!). However, my experience leads me to conclude that it's much better to keep the gut moving rather than try to react to one that's already stopped. I think that may be at the heart of this question.

    I suppose a horse who hasn't eaten anything in several hours and has been working hard is one I would treat like it was already colicking since I would assume (or check and verify) that it's gut was quiet and I would monitor any intake carefully until the metabolism was back online. I don't think their systems "need to slow down" after hard work but that they are already slowed down that's a problem.

    I agree on the e-lytes. Not my decision.

    From the article:

    If you are still taking part in competition (for example you are at a vet check point in an endurance ride) you should limit the meal to 200 g of grain per kg of bodyweight (or 0.2 lb per 100 lb of bodyweight) so that you don't induce a large increase in blood insulin levels (as discussed in Newsletter #16).

    Someone needs to check the math. For a 1000lb horse, 200 grams of grain per kilo of body weight = 200 grams x 454kg = 90,800 grams = roughly 200lbs of grain.

    I'm sure it's a typo but someone should have caught that.
    Seems like a typo, but it looks like they mean 2lbs/normal horse, which is plenty. Probably that's a little more than I've seen any endurance horse get during a hold.

    I'm not sure what to think of that article since it's from a website offering a service, but I don't understand recommending grain based diets for hard working horses. That really seems like a "days o yore" thing. Consider that endurance horses are about as hard working as they come and the top horses are most ordinarily fed little or no grain at all. Ever. Isn't the great miracle of grazing animals that they convert low quality forage into high quality protein? At least, if we are able to provide them the opportunity.

    I agree the cubes are a bit rich and we don't soak them (again, not my decision...) but the upside is they can't avoid the stems and it's what all of them have been eating all their lives. No one in work gets grain at all. They do work hard, but not anaerobically, ever. They generally have opportunities to grab grass, so the gut should still be moving. The two times I've seen a horse at this ranch get colicky it was also after two times they had not had the opportunity to grab a bite of grass and I believe also slightly dehydrated.

    IMHO there is a tight relationship between stress, food and colic in horses. If they are eating, the body figures they aren't fleeing, and they are less likely to have a stress-induced colic.

    Yes, marathoners' metabolisms pretty much shut down. Ultrarunners have to keep food intake going in little easy bits the whole run (or they would lack energy to run). They do get sick. The systems of horses and people are not the same. We can't ask horses to divert all their energy away from digestion to deal with a high-stress activity to the point of getting sick. It's not just not nice, it's potentially lethal. That means it really makes more sense to keep digestion functioning at the expense of some performance energy. Although, I bet if you are able to keep the horse's gut moving what you lose is stress energy - running on adrenaline. And no one ever won a BC award on a horse who ran on adrenaline.

    Anyway, didn't mean to do a "sing the praises of Endurance" thing. I'm actually pretty sure it's permanently skewed my perception of reality. I just feel better understanding the basis for someone's horse care decision, even if I don't agree
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