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Top 10 Tips for Improving Your Horse’s Nutrition

By Brood Mares, Foals, Horses, Performance/Competition Horses, Senior Horses No Comments

Nutrition is the cornerstone of any healthy, thriving horse. The best feed for your horse optimizes its natural digestive system to get the most nutrients to match its current needs. As horses mature they have changing nutritional requirements throughout their lives. What impacts a horse’s dietary requirements? The amount of work, age, weight, gender, stress level and pregnancy status all affect the caloric requirements for horses.

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Understanding the Digestive System of Horses

The digestive system of a horse includes the foregut and hindgut. The foregut contains enzymes to break down starches, proteins and fats. Both the small intestine and stomach are in this portion of the digestive tract. The hindgut is where microbes break up fiber from the roughage the animal consumes. Included in the hindgut are the remaining organs used for digestion — cecum, large and small colons and the rectum.

How Long Does It Take for a Horse to Digest Food?

These animals require 45 to 72 hours for feed to pass entirely through their digestive system. The types of horse feed and the animal’s health may affect the time it takes for digestion.

What Is a Typical Diet for an Adult Horse?

A horse’s usual diet depends on five types of nutrients, including ample amounts of water, starches from grains, fiber from hay, vitamins and minerals. The bulk of the animal’s diet comes from carbohydrates, with fats and proteins also contributing energy. Fats provide fuel, but limit them to no more than 10% of the intake. Proteins help build muscle, hair, skin and hooves.

Tips for Improving Horse Nutrition

Feeding your animal well requires a balance of nutrients, energy and water. Here are some helpful tips for feeding horses that will boost nutrition and health.

1. Provide Ample Clean, Fresh Water

Water is vital to the well-being of all creatures. ON average a horse can drink 10 gallons daily, but this amount can double in hot weather or when the animal exerts itself. Always provide plenty of clean water, even in cold weather. Keep in mind that you may need a heater to prevent water from freezing in the winter.

2. Keep Grains at a Minimum

The arrangement of the digestive system illustrates how much horses need balance in their feed. Too much grain promotes gas in the hindgut because the starches in the grains break down in the foregut. Once they pass through the hindgut, the microbes there take in the remainder of the carbohydrates and produce gas as a byproduct. Excessive levels of gas can lead to discomfort and even colic. To avoid this situation, feed your horse a balance of grains and fibrous hay to promote motility and prevent gas in the hindgut.

3. Boost Forage Intake

Fiber from grass or hay should equal between 1 and 2.5% of a horse’s weight. This high amount of fiber helps the animal’s digestive system operate at its best. For a 1,000-pound horse, this translates to approximately 20 pounds of hay daily, with added grains based on the amount of exertion the animal experiences, in addition to body condition. Animals that do not work may consume up to 25 pounds of hay each day with no supplemental grains (as always, consult with your veterinarian for advice on adjusting your horse’s intake). There is a relatively straightforward formula for how to estimate a horse’s body weight without a scale, based on heart girth and body length measurements.

4. Match Types of Feed to Exercise

Exercise will dictate the additional amount of grain or concentrated feed your horse needs. If your horse does not work, it may not require the additional calories provided by grain. For light work, up to two hours a day, your horse may benefit from an extra one to one and a half pounds of grain per hour of effort. For two to four hours of work, some experts recommend allotting up to two pounds of supplemental grain or concentrate per hour of work. Heavy working horses that do more than four hours of work may require significantly higher levels of concentrated feed or grain to help achieve the animal’s caloric needs.

5. Know What the Body Condition Score Is for Your Horse

While your horse’s weight is essential for knowing how much to feed it, the body condition score is also critical. What is the body condition score, and why is it important? This measurement looks at the amount of fat under the skin at specific locations on the animal’s body. You can learn to measure your horse’s body condition score yourself through classes that walk you through the process. The average ideal body condition score is five, but the best value for your horse will depend on its breed and what it does. Talk to your vet if you need advice about your animal’s body condition.

6. Don’t Make Abrupt Changes

Horses digest food over two to three days, which means changes in the feed may not cause problems immediately. If you must change your animal’s feed, do so slowly to avoid digestive troubles and upset.

Inside the animal’s hindgut are bacteria that help it digest the feed it usually consumes. Specific bacteria help break down certain things. Suddenly changing feed means the gut bacteria will not be able to properly digest the animal’s new diet and the microbial balance will be thrown off.

Change the feed by no more than 25% every other day to avoid digestive problems. Doing so gives your horse a week for its digestive system to acclimate to the new diet.

7. Account for Life Changes

Not all horses eat the same amount or mixture. Be ready to make changes throughout the animal’s life to mirror its changing nutritional needs. For example, there are different dietary recommendations for horses in the first years of their lives than for seniors. Pregnant and lactating mares also need specific diets to meet their needs.

Exercise also changes the amount of energy your horse needs. Make changes to allow for extra nutrition when your animal does more exercise. When it works less, it will need less feed. Adjusting feed levels to match the work levels keeps your animal at a healthy weight while giving it the energy it needs for its work.

8. Help the Horse Through Stressful Times

Every horse experiences stress at times during its life. Sudden changes in exercise, travel, too much time in the stall, pregnancy and other life events can result in stress. Horses under stress can develop ulcers or have other digestive problems. During such times, you can supplement your horse’s feed to reduce the chances of developing ulcers and help the animal use nutrition from its diet more efficiently. Such dietary amendments can help your horse wade through stressful times without severe consequences.

9. Supplement With Vitamins

When feeding hay to horses, you likely won’t know the exact nutrient makeup of the feed. Wet and older hay may have fewer vitamins than fresh hay. To keep your animal from developing vitamin deficiencies, supplement its diet by adding vitamins and minerals to its feed. Talk to your equine vet about specific vitamin supplements to use to ensure your animal gets the nutrients it needs based on its dietary requirements and the available vitamins in the area’s pastures.

10. Watch out for Mineral Ratios

Like vitamins, minerals make up a minute amount of the animal’s diet, but they provide critical roles in the functioning of the animal’s internal systems. Your horse will naturally regulate the amount of salt it takes in based on what it needs. However, you’ll need to ensure your animal gets calcium and phosphorus in the right proportions. At the very least, provide your animal with an even one-to-one ratio of calcium to phosphorus. A better balance, though, is two-to-one calcium to phosphorus to ensure your horse makes the most of these valuable minerals. Having too much calcium in the diet reduces the amount of phosphorus your horse can use.

Feed Considerations for Pregnant Mares

Pregnant mares have unique nutritional needs in addition to dietary requirements to support their growing fetus. Nutritional recommendations for mares carrying fetuses include both energy for the mother and enough to support an expected growth curve of the fetus.

1. When to Change a Pregnant Mare’s Diet

Major changes in the mare’s diet will likely not occur until the fifth month. How the diet changes depends on the time of year and the mare’s condition.

2. How Does a Pregnant Mare’s Diet Change?

The amount you feed your mare during its pregnancy will change during each trimester. While during the first two trimesters, your broodmare will need enough food to support her body weight, by the third, she will need 30% more feed than she had before carrying her fetus.

Mares will require even more feed if the third trimester falls during colder months when she does not have access to pasture and needs fuel to stay warm while the fetus rapidly reaches its peak size. A body condition score of six for broodmares before winter allows them enough body fat to stay warm through the winter and draw energy from if needed.

For specific needs based on your mare’s weight and expected weight gain at a time during its pregnancy, the National Academies offers an interactive means of calculating intake.

How Does a Horse’s Age Impact Their Nutritional Requirements?

Among the things that impact a horse’s diet is age. Young, growing weanlings and yearlings have higher and different nutrient needs than mature animals. Older animals will have dietary requirements that help support any age-related health conditions they developed.

Foals

Foals, especially, need an appropriate balance of calcium to phosphorus to ensure adequate bone and teeth development. Ratios may range from three-to-one to one-to-one. Talk to your vet about their recommendations for your young foal’s mineral needs.

Amino acids are also crucial to growing foals. These substances build protein in the body. Overall, these young animals need 14% to 16% of their diet from protein, which is more than adults. The only specific amino acid intake requirements for yearlings and weanlings is lysine. The former group needs 2.1 g/Mcal/day, while the latter group needs slightly less at 1.9 g/Mcal/day.

Pay attention to the yearling’s and weanling’s feed during the first two years. The animal will grow rapidly, reaching 86% of its adult weight by age 2. During the first year, feed yearlings an even 50-50 mixture of concentrate and hay. After age 2, switch your horse to an adult diet of hay and supplemental concentrate or grain, based on activity level.

Adults

For adult horses, allow ready access to forage and up to 25 pounds of hay daily with added grain or concentrate as a supplement. Changes in adult diets depend on whether the animal works more or is in the breeding season.

Seniors

Senior horses may be hard keepers due to illnesses or difficulty chewing due to poor dental health. You will need to focus carefully on feeding them to prevent weight loss that could compromise their health.

Older horses engage in less activity, but due to changes in digestion ability, they require higher protein levels, 12% to 14%, to ensure adequate absorption. Dental health and existing health problems will affect how much your senior horse eats. Fats are also necessary to help hard keepers maintain body condition. If your horse has any conditions that require special nutritional needs, talk to your vet about a customized diet.

Offer multiple small meals throughout the day to your older horse. A rule of thumb is to limit feed to five pounds at each meal, and isolate older animals, so younger ones do not chase them off. Select easily digestible and chewed feed designed for older animals, and consider supplementing it with an aid that promotes proper pH of digestive enzymes.

Mares vs. Stallions

Mares and stallions will have different nutritional needs during the breeding season. Females will require feeding based on the needs of broodmares while carrying a fetus. Stallions will also need extra energy, but not as much as you might think.

For feeding a stallion, make sure to maintain the animal’s condition, regardless of the season. During non-breeding times, the stallion can meet his energy requirements by eating forage and hay. The animal will need more energy during the breeding season, as well as possible mineral and vitamin supplementation to ensure fertility.

In the breeding season, a stallion increases his energy requirements by 20%, but only eats 10% more feed. To ensure the animal has enough to keep up his energy requirements, supplement his feed with concentrates. Give the horse vitamins A and E, because the stallion will need 50% more of these vitamins when breeding. Consider adding selenium and manganese to the animal’s diet if he is deficient in these, which could drop fertility.

Maintaining your breeding horses during the season can ensure success and a future of foals.

Supplement Your Horse’s Feed With Zesterra®

When you want to care for your animal’s health and nutrition, supplement its diet with a product that encourages water intake, raises pH and promotes the proliferation of healthy bacteria in the hindgut. To support the nutrient requirements for your horses at all stages of life, consider supplementation with Zesterra®.

Zesterra® helps your animal through stressful times. It also promotes natural healing of conditions such as ulcers. With an all-natural blend of ingredients, this product gives your horse’s digestive system the boost it needs to extract as many nutrients from food as possible, making it an ideal supplement for older animals or those that experience stress. To get answers to any questions you have about our products, including Zesterra®, contact us online.

Related Posts

How to Choose the Right Horse for Your Riding Style

The Mare: Pregnancy Trimesters 1 – 3

The Mare: Pre-Breeding Considerations

Five Ways to Prepare Your Horse for Summer

Sources:

  • https://extension.psu.edu/feeding-horses
  • https://proearthanimalhealth.com/product/zesterra/
  • https://proearthanimalhealth.com/general-inquiries/
  • https://proearthanimalhealth.com/trimesters-1-3/
  • https://proearthanimalhealth.com/causes-and-effects-of-stress-in-horses/
  • https://proearthanimalhealth.com/zesterra/hard-keepers/
  • https://articles.extension.org/pages/21927/top-ten-nutrition-tips-for-your-horse
  • https://www.uaex.edu/farm-ranch/animals-forages/horses/estimating_weight.pdf
  • https://articles.extension.org/pages/11488/horsequest-learning-lesson:how-to-body-condition-score-horses
  • https://thehorse.com/164430/when-to-change-a-pregnant-mares-diet/
  • https://nrc88.nas.edu/nrh/
  • https://ag.tennessee.edu/AnimalScience/UTHorse/EQuineReports/2012-April.pdf
  • https://www.merckvetmanual.com/management-and-nutrition/nutrition-horses/nutritional-requirements-of-horses
  • https://thehorse.com/136769/feeding-young-horses-graduating-to-a-grown-up-diet/
  • https://ker.com/equinews/nutrition-stallion/
  • https://ag.tennessee.edu/AnimalScience/UTHorse/EQuineReports/2012-April.pdf

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A Matter of Color – Why does Zesterra darken with age?

By Brood Mares, Foals, Horses, Performance/Competition Horses, Senior Horses No Comments

At least a few times a week we get this inquiry — why did my Zesterra® darken since I bought it? This is a perfectly valid question — after all, in most cases, when the color of food or even things like toiletries shifts, it can be a sign of spoilage.

So, does a deeper shade of amber in Zesterra® herald its imminent demise? Luckily, no.

The reason behind that color change comes down to plain chemistry. Because we don’t use preservatives, the all-natural apple flavoring starts to go through a process known as oxidation. Just like when you cut open an apple and it immediately starts to take on a brown hue, so too does the apple flavor in Zesterra®.

But how? Apples contain an enzyme called polyphenol oxidase (also known as PPO), which, when released by damage to the tissue and consequent oxygen exposure, oxidize the polyphenols.

The other part to these inquiries usually involves shelf life. Zesterra has a 5-year shelf life and is incredibly stable — most of us keep a bottle in our trucks or trailers, our tack rooms and in our houses. If it freezes overnight because you forgot it out on the porch, that shouldn’t be a problem. Nor should leaving it in the hot truck for a few days.

Obviously, as with anything, we suggest you exercise common sense. If your Zesterra smells “off” or has become particularly thick or gloppy, it may be time to retire it. These problems are usually associated with contamination so it really shouldn’t be used anyway.

While this is just a quick overview, as always, please don’t ever hesitate to contact us with questions. We pride ourselves on being able to offer you solid answers based on facts and our own personal experiences with our products.

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Causes and Effects of Stress in Horses

By Horses No Comments

Horses can experience stress from a variety of environmental and social factors — from their training and feeding schedules to their interactions with other horses in the pasture. Different horses may show stress in different ways, and some horses respond better to stressful situations than others. However, stress can be a serious problem for even the toughest horses as it can lead to health and behavioral issues when left unaddressed. In this piece, we will explore the common causes and effects of equine stress so you can better recognize and prevent stress in your horses.

Table of Contents

What Does It Mean When Your Horse Is Stressed?

Just as humans experience stress in situations that are physically or mentally challenging, horses also experience stress as a natural response to changes or challenges in their environment. In some situations, stress is a helpful reaction that allows horses to cope or adapt. For example, if an unfamiliar animal enters a horse’s pasture, their natural stress response tells them to stay alert and approach that animal cautiously.

What does stress mean for horses?Short term stress helps keep a horse safe, but if stress continues for a long time, it can have damaging effects to the horse’s health and well-being. When we talk about a horse being stressed, we are often referring to this type of chronic stress. Over time, horses can adapt to familiar stresses, such as traffic near their pasture or a new horse joining their pasture. However, when faced with larger changes like a new training schedule or busy show season, horses may be unable to adjust and develop long-term stress.

Chronic stress occurs when a horse’s stress hormone levels rise in response to a stressful situation and then fail to decrease again. Chronically elevated stress hormones can lead to changes in the horse’s behavior and habits as well as cause many health problems.

What Causes Stress in Horses?

Chronic stress in horses is most often the result of changes in the horse’s environment or lifestyle. Management changes, such as a more strenuous exercise routine or new feeding schedule, can also lead to long-term stress. While some horses can adapt to these changes easily, other horses may have a harder time adjusting. Just as different people handle stressful situations differently, some horses are more likely to experience chronic stress than others.

By being aware of what triggers stress in horses, you can take steps to keep your horses healthy and happy. Here are some common causes of stress in horses:

1. Exercise Levels or Changes in Exercise Regimen

Racehorses and performance horses that have a rigorous training schedule with high-intensity exercise are more likely to develop chronic stress. Exercise-induced stress is often proportional to the horse’s competition level — a horse in training may be more stressed than a horse on rest, and a horse that is racing may be more stressed than during training.

Horses can also experience stress if their training schedule becomes more difficult or changes significantly. For example, a horse may struggle to adjust to a particularly busy competition season or more intricate training routine. If a horse feels uncomfortable during exercise for any reason, such as ill-fitting equipment or a new rider, this can also result in elevated stress levels.

On the other hand, exercise has also been shown to reduce stress in horses, while extended rest periods may increase their stress. If your horse is experiencing stress from other factors, taking them out for a ride may actually help to lower their stress levels and help them relax.

2. Poor Diet or Changes in Diet

Horses need a well-balanced diet and regular feeding schedule to stay healthy and fit. A proper diet will include all of the basic nutrients a horse needs, including carbohydrates, fats, proteins, vitamins and minerals. Horses should also consume five to 15 gallons of water each day and eat one to two percent of their body weight in forage. In a healthy feeding schedule, horses are fed frequent small meals throughout the day.

Horses should consume 5-15 gallons of water each day and 1-2% of their body weight in forageIf a horse is fed only feed, does not receive enough forage or their diet is lacking in essential nutrients, this can cause chronic stress. Feeding a horse only twice daily rather than several times is another common cause of stress. When a horse is stalled during rest, they should still be fed regularly with both roughage and feed.

In addition to a poor diet, changes in a horse’s diet or feeding routine can also lead to long-term stress. While traveling, try to keep your horse’s feeding schedule as consistent as possible. Bring your own hay and feed from home so your horses can still enjoy their regular diet while on the road.

3. A Busy Transportation Schedule

Performance horses that travel frequently during show season are more likely to develop chronic stress. Even if a horse has been transported before, traveling can still be stressful as they are going to an unfamiliar location and are likely experiencing other changes in their routine. As much as possible, a horse’s feeding and exercise schedule should be kept regular while traveling. While on the road, keep your horses well-hydrated and provide ample access to hay to encourage proper gut functioning. If your horses are used to regular turnout, take them on frequent walks to keep them out of their stalls as much as possible.

4. Housing Conditions

The amount of time a horse spends in the field and their stall can impact their stress levels. Regular turnout is important for a horse’s health and can help reduce their stress, so horses should be kept in the pasture as much as possible. If a horse that is usually very active must go on stall rest for injury recovery, keep them entertained as much as possible to prevent stress from boredom and lack of activity.

Horses should be kept in the pasture as much as possible.A horse’s housing conditions can also cause stress when new horses are introduced or if a barn that is typically quiet becomes noisy and crowded. Because horses are social animals, a horse can even develop chronic stress based on which horses are housed next to them.

5. Pregnancy or Reproduction

Horses may experience natural stress during different stages of their reproductive cycle, but this can become chronic stress if not managed properly. When a mare is in estrus, a follicle will develop on one of her ovaries, and she may experience frequent urination. These physical changes can cause discomfort and can lead to chronic stress. Treatments are available that can help reduce the symptoms of estrus and ease a mare’s stress.

A pregnant mare may experience pain or discomfort while giving birth which may be expressed through pawing, pacing, sweating or biting at her stomach. This stress is often relieved after the mare gives birth, but if stress continues after foaling, pain relief medication may be necessary.

What Are the Effects of Stress in Horses?

If a horse develops chronic stress from any of these causes, it can have long-term effects on their health and behavior. Horses suffering from stress may be more likely to get sick or develop gastric ulcers which can lead to more stress. Here are some common signs that a horse is stressed:

1. Weight Loss

A horse that is stressed may experience a decrease in their appetite and will begin to lose weight. This is a common effect if a horse is not receiving a well-balanced diet with quality feed and forage. If a horse is already experiencing gastrointestinal discomfort from a poor diet, they may exhibit a reduced appetite and lack of interest in food. Even if a horse is fed a regular and healthy diet, they may show a decreased appetite due to other stresses. Heat stress or other health problems can also cause weight loss in a horse, so it is important to explore any possible cause.

2. Gastric Ulcers

Gastric ulcers are very common in stressed horses, with about 60 percent of show horses and 90 percent of racehorses suffering from equine ulcers. High-performance horses are not the only ones susceptible to ulcers, however, as horse ulcers can be caused by a poor diet, a busy travel season, stall confinement or any other stressful environment.

Gastric ulcers form when a horse’s stomach lining erodes due to extended exposure to stomach acid. In a healthy horse, regular intake of feed and forage will neutralize this acid to protect the stomach lining. When a horse does not feed regularly, they are at risk of developing gastric ulcers.

Elevated stress hormones can also cause ulcers in horses. When the stress hormone cortisol is released, it reduces the production of another stress hormone called prostaglandin. This lowers the pH levels in the horse’s stomach which weakens the protective lining and makes the horse more susceptible to developing ulcers.

Horse ulcers can be caused by a poor diet, a busy travel season, stall confinement or any other stressful environment.Because horses show very little outward signs when they are suffering from gastric ulcers, they can be difficult to diagnose. A horse with ulcers may show subtle signs such as a decreased appetite or a rough and dull coat. In more serious cases, horses with ulcers may grind their teeth or experience colic.

To test for gastric ulcers, a veterinarian will insert an endoscope into the horse’s stomach to look at the surface. Gastric ulcers are treated by removing stresses from the horse’s environment and ensuring they receive proper nutrition. Medications can also be used to increase pH levels in the horse’s stomach and stop the progression of ulcers.

3. Diarrhea and Frequent Urination

When a horse is stressed, they may produce more manure than usual in a short period of time and may also experience diarrhea. Horse diarrhea can also be caused by a poor diet, which is a common cause of stress in horses. A stressed horse may urinate frequently to relieve their stress and become more stressed if they are in a place where they cannot relieve themselves, such as a trailer.

4. Weakened Immune System

A chronically stressed horse will have high levels of cortisol which can disrupt its normal bodily functions. Too much cortisol can weaken a horse’s immune system, making a stressed horse more likely to catch an infectious disease or become seriously ill.

5. Stereotypic Behavior

If a horse is experiencing stresses, such as too much time in their stall or a poor feeding schedule, they may begin to exhibit stereotypies. Common stereotypes include cribbing, chewing, wall kicking, stall walking, weaving and fence walking. While this stereotypic behavior is not always tied to stress, it may be an indicator that a horse is not adjusting well to a change in their environment or routine.

6. Yawning

The reason horses yawn is not entirely clear, but yawning has been connected to stereotypic behaviors and may be a sign that a horse is stressed. Yawning could provide an endorphin release that helps horses cope with a stressful situation. If your horse yawns frequently, ask yourself if there may be a reason that your horse is stressed.

7. Behavioral Changes

When a horse is stressed, they may develop a poor attitude and become resistant to training or exercise. A horse that is usually enthusiastic about work may become unmotivated or appear depressed. Horses that are stressed may also act out by bucking, bolting, biting, rearing or pawing, even if they are generally even-tempered and well-behaved.

8. Tooth Grinding

As mentioned above, tooth grinding can be a sign that a horse has gastric ulcers. Horses may also grind their teeth if they are experiencing other physical pain or discomfort. Physiological stress can also cause horses to grind their teeth while they are in their stall or being ridden. If a horse does not have any dental issues, tooth grinding is likely a result of a stressful environment.

9. Trembling, Sweating and Elevated Pulse

During a stressful situation, a horse may exhibit many of the same physical signs that a person does when they are stressed. The horse’s heart rate and breathing increase and they may begin to sweat. Horses may also tremble when they are in a stressful environment such as during transportation or when visited by the veterinarian. These signs of stress will normally disappear whenever the stressful trigger disappears. However, if a horse shows these signs of stress in an ordinary situation, that may indicate chronic stress.

How to Make Your Horse’s Life Less Stressful

If your horse shows any of these signs of stress, there are several measures you can take to create a more comfortable and healthy environment. First, try to identify what may be causing your horse to feel stressed, and then consider ways you can adjust their lifestyle to relieve that stress. Here are a few options for how to reduce stress in horses:
How to Make Your Horse's Life Less Stressful

  • Maintain a consistent daily routine: Horses enjoy a regular schedule, so aim to keep their feeding and exercise schedule as consistent as possible, even while traveling.
  • Create a healthy diet and feeding schedule: Ensure your horses are receiving good nutrition with the proper balance of feed and forage. Horses should have access to plenty of clean water and be fed several times during the day.
  • Increase pasture time: If your horses spend a lot of time inside their stalls, try to increase their turnout as much as possible.
  • Adjust exercise schedules: Make sure your horses are receiving the right amount of exercise and appropriate level of training. Proper exercise routines help prevent injuries and can reduce stress in horses.
  • Monitor social interactions: If you believe your horse may be stressed due to social factors, watch how the horse interacts with other horses in the pasture and barn. If the horse seems uncomfortable while in the barn, consider moving it to another stall.
  • Take care when traveling: When transporting your horses, try to keep the trailer ride as smooth as possible. Provide ample hay and water to keep the horse’s stomach settled while traveling. Bring hay and feed from home so your horse’s diet stays consistent.
  • Perform preventative care: Keep your horses up-to-date on vaccines and take them for regular health exams. If your horse shows any signs of stress-induced health problems, talk to your veterinarian about possible treatments.

By recognizing the causes and effects of stress in horses, you can take steps to relieve their stress and create a happier environment. At Pro Earth Animal Health, we are dedicated to helping you keep your horses healthy and stress-free. We are proud to offer the all-natural equine supplement Zesterra, which is designed to reduce the effects of stress in horses and help prevent gastric ulcers. Contact Pro Earth Animal Health to learn more about Zesterra and how it can benefit your horses’ health.

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How to Choose the Right Horse for Your Riding Style

By Horses, Performance/Competition Horses No Comments

How to choose the right horse for your riding styleWhether you’ve been honing your skills in a particular riding style for years or you’ve recently taken up riding, it’s crucial to understand the best horse types for each riding discipline. A good match can transform your experience and advance you to new levels.

Not every horse performs the same. Some horses have exceptional longevity for endurance riding, while others can reach great heights for show jumping. The size, breeding, temperament and training can all contribute to how they function during the ins and outs of your preferred riding style.

If you are wondering, “What type of horse do I need?” the following guide will help you review the array of riding disciplines and inform you about the most fitting horses for common riding styles.

Table of Contents

The Primary Factors: English and Western Riding Styles

Popular riding styles like barrel racing or dressage fall under two main disciplines: Western and English. The general origins, saddle design, direction and positioning separate these forms, but they also split off into additional subsections.

The equipment and interaction between the rider and horse is a major distinction. In English style, riders use a slight, flat saddle that offers them tighter proximity to the horse. It also gives direct guidance from a mouth rein, so the horse responds to the redirection of its face. Western style, on the other hand, provides a substantial, deep surface that spreads over the horse, and a neck rein nudges the horse along the right route.

Both types of riding styles have rich histories that influenced these layouts. English riding started in Europe but wasn’t restricted to Britain, and it had ties to the military, creating the proper form we now know. Western riding and tack stemmed from cattle-related purposes in America, and the ranching background still shines through today.

However, English and Western riding subgroups branch out into a wide variety of applications that require unique horse breeds. For instance, intelligent breeds that rapidly pick up instruction are ideal for Western riding, which demands tremendous perception.

Let’s dive into these styles and the go-to horses for them.

Types of Western Riding Styles and Suitable Horse Breeds

While the Western-style did start out for day-to-day work on ranches, Western riding has evolved into a group of competitive exercises. They all show athleticism, diligence and a connection between horse and rider. Most of these eight riding types are easiest for cow-herding horses, and with the wider saddle and neck reins, they require bright and agile breeds.

1. Western Pleasure

This competition category displays horses that are agreeable to ride through measured movements. The rider executes a steady gait for the judges with a variety of precise beats and corresponding paces. The horse remains alert with an upright head, and its easygoing disposition accompanies a flowing and uninterrupted cadence.

A proper breed for Western pleasure is tall with a stable frame. With leaner shoulders and hips, it needs to hold steep angles to execute slow, deliberate motions. A level neck and an effortless stride create a successful Western pleasure horse.

Quarter Horses that are hand-picked for durable lower forelimbs are worthy Western pleasure candidates, especially if they’re trained from youth. Due to their smooth gait and calm demeanor, they’re frequently selected for Western pleasure.

Tennessee Walking Horses are also graceful participants and their comfortable gait fairs well in Western pleasure competitions.

For Western Pleasure riders, they execute a steady gait for the judges with a variety of precise beats and corresponding paces2. Reining

Comparable to English dressage, Western reining is a swift series of guided activities. The reining patterns range from circles, stops, spins, roll-backs and flying lead changes, and they demonstrate a horse’s refined agility.

The sharp transitions in reining take skillful maneuvering, so the horses have to be sensitive to cues at a moment’s notice. Horses that work with cattle typically have the dexterity to complete these exact tasks.

While reining is based primarily on athleticism rather than breed, two prominent reining horses are Paints and Appaloosas. Paints have broad chests and strong centers of gravity that keeps them firm through the shifting stages of reining. Similarly, Appaloosas are highly coordinated and powerful, which allows them to carry out precise exercises.

3. Cutting

Cutting is a herding activity where the horse and rider block off cows, abiding by certain techniques. During cutting, the handler and horse isolate a cow and continue to separate it from the herd despite its attempts to rejoin the group. The handler also has to let the horse lead the cutting for a period of time, practicing its own preventative instincts.

Steering a frightened cow is challenging, so the horse must have advanced intuition to face off with the cow. Anticipation and flexibility are two natural qualities your horse should have to effectively cut.

Working cow horses often include Morgan Horses and Quarter Horses. Morgan Horses are versatile, but their speed and compact body help them counter the motion of cows in cutting. The balance and attentiveness of Quarter Horses establish them as an assertive horse for this competition.

4. Trail Riding

With arranged trail barriers on a natural course, the handler and horse travel and strategically navigate. Trail riding can involve gates, changes in terrain and logs, and it isn’t timed like endurance racing. The way the riders complete the challenging obstacles is scored, along with the horse’s adaptability and poise.

Horses need stamina and athletic prowess to make it through the distance and stops. The best horses for trail riding can tolerate long stretches of riding and nimbly accomplish obstacles.

Arabians are proficient at traversing a course because of their muscular legs. Trail riding can wear on even the most resilient horses, so thorough hoof health is an important consideration. Fortunately, Arabians’ sure-footedness can conquer the hazards of trail riding. Their elegance is also beneficial in coming off as a capable trail contestant.

Missouri Fox Trotters also maintain their energy in trail riding. Their sloped shoulders and sturdy back help them carry the weight of a rider through the obstacles, too.

The best horses for trail riding can tolerate long stretches of riding and nimbly accomplish obstacles5. Team Penning

As a group competition, team penning requires three handlers to guide three cattle into a pen. The pen is usually on the other side of the competition area, and the riders have to coordinate with one another to draw the cows away from the herd. The three cows have to be labeled the announced number, which makes it complex.

Because this combines cutting, penning and teamwork, this style requires a resourceful horse, and the same breeds for cutting fulfill the needs for team penning, too. Quarter Horses have diverse abilities, and their stature helps them put up a barrier for the cows. Morgan Horses, once again, are smart and expressive, which develops a forceful influence over the cows.

6. Barrel Racing

To barrel race, a horse and handler swing around three barrels in a triangle layout. They loop each barrel in a cloverleaf design before exiting the arena. Scoring is dependent on the overall time, but the turns and control play substantial roles, too.

Horses have to have powerful haunches to build up speed, and their balance and footing around turns need a quick reaction. When a Quarter Horse has an even build, they can distribute their full power short-distance racing.

7. Endurance

Endurance horse riding competitions stretch more than 50 miles on average, and these long distances have vet checks at marked intervals to evaluate the shape of the horse.

Physically demanding performances over great distances can tire out horses. However, many horses are equipped to persevere through these intense races. If a horse is high-spirited, it has the vigor to overcome tough terrain and hours of riding.

The horse type with the longest-lasting vitality is the Arabian. Arabians are dominant in endurance racing because of their history of survival and fortified structure. Their pronounced hips, laidback shoulders and muscled haunches let them release spurts of energy along the route.

8. Gymkhana

This is a collection of speed games that normally apply to youth. Gymkhana is also referred to as mounted games, and riders participate in things like flag races, barrel racing, keg races, pole bending and keyhole races.

In fast-paced games on horseback, the type of horse you decide on needs to support you. They should also be able to climb to brisk speeds and be aware of the rider’s guidance.

To accommodate younger riders, you should choose a horse that’s experienced but good-natured. Ponies can serve as adequate mounts for children, but appaloosas are also an acceptable choice for Gymkhana. Their independence and trustworthiness set them up for the hubbub of the events.

Types of English Riding Styles and Suitable Horse Breeds

Unlike Western style, English riding styles are more structured and add further pomp to events. Jumping techniques and high stepping styles are two instrumental parts of English riding, but the numerous types switch up the arenas, obstacles and expectations. Here are seven types of English riding styles.

The types of English riding styles and suitable horse breeds1. Dressage

Dressage is a classical discipline where riders usher their horse through a rhythmic routine. The tests in the sequence can cover multiple gaits, piaffe, passage and pirouettes. Riders and horses are graded on their harmony, impulsion and composure.

As an almost choreographed dance, dressage cultivates restraint and willingness. Horses have to closely obey their rider and demonstrate finesse, and this artistic practice prioritizes visual excellence.

Hanoverians and Andalusians are beautiful breeds that conduct themselves well during dressage. Hanoverians are noble and trainable — plus, their gaits are light and far-reaching when necessary. Andalusians are also sophisticated animals that create a spectacle, and their cadence has the perfect amount of lift for dressage moves.

2. Show Jumping

For show jumping, the horse and rider must leap over a succession of fences in a ring formation. As a timed task, the jumps should be consecutive, and the recovery of horse and rider in between should be immediate.

Appaloosas achieve impressive jumps for show jumping. Their legs are narrow but mighty, which lets them push off for a leap. Those with long but considerable backs can create an appealing arch as they jump, too. Thoroughbreds are also magnificent jumpers, and their extensive leg length is one advantage that propels them over fences.

3. Eventing

As a three-tiered event, eventing hosts dressage, cross-country and show jumping segments. Cross country, the only part not yet addressed, involves a course of lower and higher fences, as well as obstacles.

Multi-talented horses are useful for eventing, and it’s even more profitable if they have high stamina. The jumping exercises take high degrees of strength combined with continual smoothness, and Hanoverians boast an assortment of skills that are optimal in eventing. They’re masters of dressage steps and hurdling fences.

4. Polo

This mounted team sport is played on horseback, and the teams hit a ball with a wooden mallet into goals while staying in the saddle. Horses in the game, or “polo ponies,” carry their riders close to the ball and finagle their way around other horses.

Polo ponies tend to be Thoroughbreds because they can learn competitiveness. They intrinsically have the ease and endurance to complete the games, too.

5. Saddle Seat

Saddle seat competitions highlight the high-stepping abilities of horses. It’s a dramatic exhibition aimed to catch the judges’ eyes, reflecting some shared principles with dressage.

Morgan Horses and American Saddlebreds are both viable options for saddle seat riding. Morgan Horses characteristically have a proud neck and distinguished gait, which gives them the flair they need in saddle seat.

Alternatively, American Saddlebreds offer a regal stature, as their back gently dips. Their steps are exaggerated, which clearly conveys their gait in saddle seat competitions.

6. English Pleasure

While Western pleasure has horses lope and jog, English pleasure requires more showmanship in the gait, which is why it consists of trotting and cantering. Judges look for more animated motions in English pleasure.

Arabian can bring style to English pleasure, and they are capable of a high-scoring strut. Their manners are amiable, so they can easily pick up a winning attitude.

7. Hunting

Hunting or hunt seating riding features a forward saddle and riding position, and there’s separate scoring for the horse and rider during flat and jumping tests. Also, the obstacles take on a neutral tone that simulates the outdoors.

Horses that notice the subtle fences and function smoothly in careful gait tests are preferable. Thoroughbreds are sharp, and they can produce high jumps and precise steps. Considerate preparation for natural events can lead a Thoroughbred to proficient hunting riding.

Support Your Horse’s Health With Zesterra® From Pro Earth Animal Health

After you choose a horse that matches your riding needs, it’s vital to keep them healthy and content. Between serious training and traveling to competitions, several stressors can plague your horse.

Zesterra® is an all-natural supplement that can improve your horse’s well being through highs and lows. It balances the pH of the stomach to get your horse back in top shape. From heavy exercise to changes in weather, every horse owner can find a use for Zesterra®.

At Pro Earth Animal Health, we are concerned about your animal’s health. That’s why we provide affordable, all-natural supplements and practical resources to keep them feeling their best. Shop our selection of Zesterra® online today or contact our team to learn more.

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Dillon Sackett: 2018 South Dakota State Champion Tie-down Roper

By Horses, Youth Profiles No Comments
Photo courtesy: John Sackett

Meet Dillon Sackett, the 2018 South Dakota State Champion Tie-down Roper! After looking for a solution to a hot and unfocused horse, Dillon’s found that Zesterra® makes the difference between a good roping and a great one.

PEAH: Hi Dillon! Thanks for taking the time to talk with us! First off, we’d like to know – what titles do you currently hold?

DS: Hello! Well, I was the 2017 20x Rodeo Showcase Champion Tie-Down Roper and this year I’m the 2018 South Dakota State Champion Tie-down Roper.

PEAH: Congratulations! That’s an impressive accomplishment! Obviously, you must belong to a few organizations. Which ones are you a part of?

DS: I belong to SDHSRA, SD-4H Rodeo, Little Britches Rodeo, SDRA, FFA, and the AQHA. I am also partnered with Hotheels Roping Dummy, and Ramona Horse Feed.

PEAH: It sounds like you’re really active and busy with all of these organizations. So tell us, how did you come to use Zesterra®?

DS: Zesterra® has majorly benefitted my horse throughout this high school rodeo season! My horse was hot in the box when we rope calves. Found out about Zesterra® and he stands like a rock in the box now! I have not heard a bad thing about Pro Earth Products.

PEAH: We’re so happy that it’s helping both you and your horse! Can you tell us what your goals for the next few months are?

DS: My goals for 2018 has been to be state champion tie-down roper and make nationals for the first time. There I hope to be 6th or better in the world at the end of nationals!

PEAH: We’re rooting for you! Tell us a little more about you… what would you like us to know?

DS: The horses I use are trained by my family and I. That’s what makes a win even better! Having Zesterra® for my horse throughout the 2018 year has made every bit of difference in winning a state championship in the tie-down!

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Meet Pro Earth Rep Heather Butler

By Horses, Rep Profiles No Comments
Photo courtesy: Heather Butler

Areas Served: Missouri & Arizona

One thing you can tell right off the bat when you talk to Heather Butler? She loves horses! Between training her own barrel horses and competing, she knows what it takes to keep them at their best.

Learn more about Heather! Read on…

PE: So, Heather, what made you want to get involved in working with Pro Earth?

HB: I have used Zesterra® on my own horses since I was introduced to it by a friend in Wyoming. My horses love the product and I have seen significant changes in their performance and behavior!

PE: What do you like most about our product(s)?

HB: Zesterra® is easy to administer and is available at a reasonable price. I also really like that the products are made with all-natural ingredients.

PE: What is one accomplishment you’re incredibly proud of?

HB: I trained two incredibly athletic 5-year-old mares to perform and compete with top competitors — all at just 5 years of age!

PE: So, what would you like us to know about you? Your family, hobbies… anything you would like us all to know.

HB: I really enjoy barrel racing, hunting, and fitness! I love the outdoors and spending time with family and friends. When I am not on horseback I can usually be found either at the gym or working on construction designs.

PE: Which Pro Earth Products do you offer to folks in your area?

HB: I currently offer Zesterra®.

PE: What is the easiest way for people to contact you? 

HB: It’s best to call or text me at: 435-531-3873.

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The Mare: Pregnancy Trimesters 1 – 3

By Brood Mares, Foals, Horses No Comments

First Trimester Care – A Confirmed Pregnancy

The first trimester of your mare’s pregnancy starts on the day of conception and ends at day 113.  During the first trimester, her nutritional requirements will be basically the same as they were before she became pregnant.

To ensure that your mare maintains a healthy weight, she can be maintained on high-quality forage, pasture or hay and unlimited access to a mineral salt block. If she’s a “hard-keeper”, supplementing with a concentrated feed and keeping her stomach pH balanced will help to maintain her body condition score and digestive integrity.

During this first trimester, best practices dictate that she not receive vaccinations in this period of time. It is, however, recommended that she be dewormed sometime between days 60-90.

While the dietary needs for your mare may not change much if, at all, special precautions should be taken to protect the newly-implanted pregnancy during the first 30 days.

These precautions include things such as reducing her workload and avoiding any high-intensity exercise. This is particularly important on those hot days.

Second Trimester Care – Maintaining Good Body Condition

The second trimester for your mare begins on day 114 and goes until day 225. This is sort of the “coasting” period. She can resume her regular workload (within reason) and shouldn’t have any energy deficits.

During the second trimester, your mare should receive a total of two EHV-1 vaccinations. One should be administered on day 150 of the pregnancy, along with a second deworming. The second EHV-1 should be administered on or around day 210.

Maintaining your mare during her second trimester includes providing a generous amount of high-quality hay and just enough grain or concentrated feed to keep her in moderate body condition. You may also need to add a vitamin and mineral supplement to ensure that all of her nutritional requirements are being met.

Third Trimester Care – The Home Stretch

The third, and final trimester for your mare runs from day 226 until around day 340 – the average foaling date.  This trimester is undisputedly the most important trimester in terms of fetal growth and development.

The first two trimesters of your mare’s pregnancy will be relatively easy with regards to care and support. Now that she is in the final stage, she is going to require more care and attention.

Due to the rapid growth of the fetus towards the latter part of the pregnancy, the nutritional needs of your mare will increase by about 30%.  It is imperative to concentrate on vital nutrients, vitamins, and mineral content of her feed – this is so much more important than just calories.

During this third and final stage of pregnancy, your mare will need to receive the most important set of vaccinations, known as “Pre-foaling” vaccinations.  These vaccinations are primarily for establishing a solid immune system in the foal, however, the mare certainly benefits from these vaccinations as well.

The administration of these vaccines during this time will help ensure that your mare produces high levels of antibodies that will provide the immunity-boosting building blocks of her colostrum.

Monitor your mare regularly when she’s close to term. By “regularly” that means “continually”, as in every hour.  It is particularly important to pay attention to anything that seems off.

The number one sign to look for is if your mare is lying down more than usual. Another thing to watch for is an abnormal vaginal discharge that may lead to infection and can be fatal to the foal.

The last part of the pregnancy can be an exciting, nerve-wracking time, to say the least.  Always go with your gut – if something seems alarming, contact your veterinarian right away. It is always better to be safe than sorry.

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Meet Pro Earth Rep Dave Jagow

By Cattle, Horses, Rep Profiles No Comments
Photos: Dave Jagow

Location: Hardwick, Minnesota

Talk to Dave Jagow for a few minutes and it’s apparent that if there’s one thing this man knows, it’s livestock. Located in the SW corner of Minnesota, Dave has grown a solid network of friends and fellow stockmen in the area.

Learn more about Dave! Read on…

PE: So, Dave, what made you want to get involved in working with Pro Earth?

DJ: I met Matt (Zancanella) a few years ago and became acquainted with him. I started using both the CattlActive® and Zesterra®. Last year I saw him at a stock show and he mentioned that he didn’t have anyone covering my area of Minnesota. I decided that because I believe in the products and what they can do, I wanted to share them with other livestock producers in my area.

PE: What do you like most about our product(s)?

DJ: I enjoy being able to show the results to people and letting them see for themselves what they can do. I also really love the ease of use.

PE: What is one accomplishment you’re incredibly proud of?

DJ: Introducing some of the smaller feedlots on CattlActive® and seeing it help their bottom line.

PE: So, what would you like us to know about you? Your family, hobbies… anything you would like us all to know.

DJ: Well, I’m married and have 4 kids. I’ve worked in agriculture my whole career — feedlots, cow/calf operations, and now I’m the transportation manager for New Horizon Farms. In my free time, I enjoy trail riding and ranch rodeos. I also collect and trade old bits and spurs and have recently become interested in old cast iron cookware.

PE: Which Pro Earth Products do you offer to folks in your area?

DJ: I offer CattlActive® and Zesterra®. I also carry the lick tubs for both products.

PE: What area(s) do you serve?

DJ: I am located in the SW corner of Minnesota and serve Worthington, Rock County, Pipestone County, Nobles County, and Murray County.

PE: What is the easiest way for people to contact you? 

DJ: I’m most easily reached by phone. My number is 507-290-2183

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Meet Pro Earth Rep Blake Sutton

By Cattle, Horses, Rep Profiles No Comments
Photos: Blake Sutton

Location: Milwaukee, WI

Health and fitness aren’t just trendy leanings for Pro Earth Rep Blake Sutton — they’re a way of life. His enthusiasm to share his knowledge and resources doesn’t just stop at people — he specializes in compounded pharmaceuticals for the veterinary industry.

Learn more about Blake! Read on…

PE: So, Blake, what made you want to get involved in working with Pro Earth?

BS: I’ve been in the Animal Health industry close to 10 years, selling compounded pharmaceuticals for small and large animal hospitals (equine hospitals), so I really wanted to offer my clients another healthy alternative to medications. It’s helped me diversify my business nicely. I have clients all over the country, so by offering PEAH products to them now, I thought it was a smart move for my business.

PE: What do you like most about our product(s)?

BS: The thing I absolutely love about the PEAH line of products is the all-natural option to offer your clients, help them, and inform them about preventative health. It’s fun tackling health issues before they even happen.

PE: What is one accomplishment you’re incredibly proud of?

BS: I’m proud of keeping my lifestyle healthy and fit. Being active is a big part of my life, so eating right and working out is something I’m consistent with and proud of because it’s not exactly easy to do as you get older.

PE: So, what would you like us to know about you? Your family, hobbies… anything you would like us all to know.

BS: I’m a Wisconsin guy at heart, born and raised in Beaver Dam, WI. After high school, I played golf at University of Wisconsin – Parkside (Kenosha, WI DII) and graduated with a BA of Science in Health and Fitness.

I enjoy fishing, golfing, playing tennis, going to the gym, wake surfing and enjoying the summer. When I’m not being active I enjoy relaxing, having a nice dinner with a Brandy Old-Fashioned Sweet.

PE: Which Pro Earth Products do you offer to folks in your area?

BS: I offer CattlActive® and Zesterra®. I also carry the lick tubs for both products, along with Cut-Away and Tummy Tamerz.

PE: What area(s) do you serve?

BS: I am based in Milwaukee, but cover Madison, Green Bay and Kalamazoo, Michigan, as well.

PE: What is the easiest way for people to contact you? 

BS: I’m available by phone at 920-319-0785 or via email at ccsmeds@gmail.com

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The Mare: Pre-Breeding Considerations

By Brood Mares, Foals, Horses No Comments

Whether you are a new to horse breeding or are an experienced breeder, it is crucial to understand the importance of properly caring for your pregnant mare to ensure for a safe and healthy birth for both mother and foal.

Let’s face it — while this is an exciting time, it can be very stressful. Even the most experienced breeders have questions that come up.

To successfully care for your pregnant mare while minimizing the stress it can have on you, it is helpful to have some guidelines to follow.

Pre-Breeding Considerations

Before you consider breeding your mare, there are things that should be taken into consideration.

Body Condition Scoring

A universal method to measure weight and fat distribution, called body condition scoring, has become one of the most effective tools used by breeders.

The vague terms “hard keeper” or “fatter than a county fair hog” are no longer relevant when considering a mare’s breeding readiness.

When you are considering breeding your mare, studies have shown that mares with a body condition score of 5, 6, or 7, have over a 90% higher chance of getting pregnant than those with lower or higher scores.

The Current Nutrition and Gut Health of the Mare

Mares are expected to carry a healthy foal for 11 months and produce enough milk for that foal for at least 6 months.  Therefore, it would seem logical how critical a role nutrition plays in breeding.

Nutritional management, in many ways, determines the success of breeding in the mare due to the influences it has on the various cycles of production.

Good nutrition doesn’t just involve feeding the right kinds of feed. It also is highly dependent on the mare’s ability to properly digest and absorb nutrients.

A low pH can result in a whole range of issues, including poor absorption and ulcers. When the pH is low, the gut flora can become unbalanced, with a die-off of beneficial microbes and an explosion of the pathogenic flora. When this happens, a horse’s ability to properly digest and utilize nutrients is compromised.

Then we come to ulcers. Gastric ulcers are more prevalent among broodmares than you might expect. According to one study, an alarming 70.9% of the mares included had gastric ulcers. The pain caused by these ulcers can lead to a decrease in feed consumption and stress, raising overall cortisol levels.

When Was the Last Foal Born?

Surprisingly, the reason to consider this is similar as to with humans. The mare’s gestation period lasts approximately 11 months, and then mare will nurse its foal for approximately 6 months.  The general rule for mares (and for humans for that matter) is to allow the mare to have the appropriate time for her cycle to normalize. This will optimize the mare’s chances of a successful breed-back and pregnancy.

Consider the Mare’s Age

The age at which a mare can breed and should be bred are two different things.  A healthy mare will start cycling, can be bred and even become pregnant in their yearling spring, often before their first full year of life.

Studies show that breeding fillies this early in life will frequently lead to a smaller foal and less milk production from the mare. It also may result in underdevelopment of the mare herself, as many of the resources she’d be using to grow are going to the development of the foal.

The general consensus within the horse/veterinary community has been to give fillies additional time to mature by allowing them to reach 3 years of age before breeding to successfully carry a pregnancy to term.

On the opposite spectrum, mares often will carry foals into their 20’s with no problem.  However, it is now well documented that the eggs of mares over 18 years old have a very high incidence of inherent defects that result in a high rate of early pregnancy loss (20-30% or higher).  Therefore, it is sometimes best to consider the health of the mare, rather than the age.

Conditioning for Breeding

Okay, so by now you have a general idea of what things to consider prior to breeding your mare.  Now let’s discuss the next step, conditioning your mare for breeding.

Because mares are not the most fertile animals (conception rate is approximately noted to be 60%), in order to avoid frustration and excessive expenses there are things you can do to maximize a successful breeding.

Optimal health in your mare is essential to achieve the greatest reproductive efficiency.  By being proactive you can take the necessary steps to attain this optimal health in your mare.

General health includes making sure your horse is in good physical condition.  Your mare’s diet should consist of high-quality feed to ensure proper weight which directly can influence regular cycling of the mare.  Equally as important is good dental health by having your mare’s teeth examined regularly.  It is also recommended having your mare dewormed every 6-8 weeks.

Required vaccinations should be met prior to breeding your mare.  It’s important to remember that vaccines are only as effective as the immune system is strong. If your mare has recently had an illness, injury or other stressors, you may want to wait to vaccinate until she has recovered.

There are different requirements depending on what region of the country your mare is living. Talk to your veterinarian about which vaccinations your mare will need to be covered in your particular area.

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