Re: [RC] Fat/Dietary Questions Part1 - Susan Garlinghouse
Her heart rate was bouncing around at the 38 mile check so,
> not wanted to over stress her, I pulled her. She's been getting a fat
> supplement in moderation along with equine senior, advantage, and beet
> about 3 times a week. She's fed equal amounts of Alfalfa and an Oat,
> Milo and alfalfa mix hay.
> So my question for you is, what is the best way to feed fat; supplement,
> grain, etc.???
Geez, Audrey, your next question will be to explain the meaning of life,
sparing no details <vbg>.
The short answer as to how to feed the best way is *whatever works for you
and your horse, regardless of what the textbooks and 'experts' say*. There
are very few hard and fast rules, just guidelines. Fudge's HR may have been
hanging a bit because she was excited, not quite conditioned yet, because
she's getting a bit more alfalfa than she might do best with (though that
wouldn't be my first guess unless more than 50% of her hay ration is
alfalfa), because her electrolytes are off, or because she's getting too
much fat too close to ride day. Or other disease-associated reasons, but
we;ll assume those aren't the case for now. LOTS of choices there and
you'll only find the right answer by experimenting. Welcome to endurance
Having said all that, let's get back to your how to feed fat question.
Which fat source you choose depends on how much your horse will voluntarily
eat, primarily. If she'll eat vegetable oil in her beet pulp/grain, fine,
then you can feed her however much it takes to maintain a good weight. As
for oil sources, I like a combination of fanatically FRESH canola oil, corn
oil and a dab of extra virgin olive oil. Good combination of omega threes
and EFAs, plus some antioxidants. Stabilized rice bran in reasonable
amounts (I prefer two pounds or less a day) is fine as long as you're paying
attention to the calcium-phosphorus issues. The dry prilled fats are very
convenient if your horse doesn't like the slimy texture of vegetable oils.
There are a lot of arguments against the use of animal fats (which is what
is used in the dry fats), but in reality, they aren't a relevant nutritional
concern from your horse's point of view, just a preference choice for you.
If you use the dry fats in a very hot summer area of the country, the dry
fats tend to congeal at around 120 degrees Fahrenheit, which makes them hard
to work with.
As for amounts and frequency of fats---you can feed pretty much as much as
your horse will eats and needs for the calories. The "rules" about not
feeding more than two cups a day or whatever aren't based on any clinical
data. In fact, horses have been fed some pretty stunning amounts of oil for
extended periods of time and done fine on it. The limiting factor is
generally what the horse will eat.
Split the fat rations into as many meals as you can. Animals emulsify fats
prior to aborption through the production of bile from the liver and horses
don't have a gall bladder to store a ready supply. They just sort of
dribble it continually and so you'll get better fat absorption if you also
'dribble' fats into the system rather than bombard it all at once with a
big, gooey meal of it.
Don't feed fats either at or for a few days before a ride. Fats won't help
provide useful energy during the ride itself. More importantly, fats slow
gastric emptying, which may also decrease gut motility, plus it provides a
'satiety factor'. That just means it decreases appetite for longer
afterwards and so may decrease the amount of forage your horse is hungry for
during the rest of the ride (it's the same reason why you're hungry again an
hour after eating a salad, but satisfied all afternoon after a burger and
And last, NEVER NEVER NEVER feed a horse liquid oil via oral syringe. Even
if he's thin as a rail and won't touch the stuff, orally syringing is NOT an
option EVER. The reason is because oil doesn't produce a swallowing reflex
the same way that watery liquids and feedstuff does, and it's very possible
for the oil to be aspirated into the lungs instead, and a horse with oil in
the lungs is a dead horse. NEVER NEVER NEVER.
This is getting a little long, so I'll talk about antioxidants in a separate
post. Hope this is helpful so far.
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