Gut & Immune HealthThe horse's gut is where the immune system starts, and a range of animal illnesses have been connected to this part of the body. Horses with gastrointestinal problems can exhibit poor appetite, poor body and hair coat condition, recurrent low-grade colic, stomach lesions, and a change in attitude and performance. A weak immune system in horses can lead to hyperpermeability of the gastrointestinal system which can cause inflammation in the gut, allowing for the onset of diseases. Recognizing these symptoms in your horse is one thing, but understanding why these symptoms occur is another.
The fermentation vat is housed in the hindgut (large intestine) and is the section of the digestive tract which houses trillions of microorganisms that act on ingested plant fibres and release nutrients into the bloodstream. Some species of these microorganisms are referred to as "good bacteria" and “bad bacteria”; however, there is nothing inherently good or bad about bacteria.
Good bacteria crowd out bad bacteria in order to limit their numbers in the GI tract, as bad bacteria waste products can produce disease and discomfort in the body. When the number of bad bacteria increases, the quantity of waste overwhelms the body’s ability to process it and thus causes illness or disease in the animal. This happens when broad spectrum antibiotics are prescribed but the drugs may contribute to a worst case scenario: not only do antibiotics destroy or inhibit the disease causing organisms; they also destroy the good bacteria as well.
In order to replenish this imbalance, it is necessary to increase the number of good bacteria in the digestive tract by supplementing with probiotics. It is optimally beneficial for the horse to consume a variety of living good bacteria species, also referred to as probiotics, to discourage having a monoculture of any bacteria species and thereby maintain a stable and healthy balance.
The use of probiotics, prebiotics and digestive enzymes are beneficial to the horse’s digestive tract health and overall wellbeing by decreasing toxin load to the body, reducing stress levels, preventing illnesses and re-establishing the beneficial flora population in the gut after antibiotics to ensure a happy and healthy horse.
Biotic 8™ Plus is used to change the bacterial flora in the large intestine, and to also promote good digestion and intestinal health. With nine different types of good bacteria, Biotic 8™ Plus ensures a balanced approach to changing the bacterial flora. Each of these bacteria has been shown to help prevent the growth of bad bacteria whose waste may cause chronic health problems.
Optimal digestion is important to ensure the breakdown and utilization of nutrients properly, therefore the digestive tract plays a crucial role in immunity. While a horse's lifestyle factors are important, the health of their immune system could also be based on the health of the gut. When choosing supplements for a horse with gastrointestinal issues or immune deficiencies, be sure to choose products that have been proven safe and efficacious for horses to prevent unwanted side effects.
Biotic 8™ Plus aids the gastrointestinal system, specifically the stomach and hindgut by soothing the gut and by providing natural anti-inflammatory relief (bioflavonoids are used for their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits). Biotic 8™ Plus helps to promote a healthy digestive tract and maintain a healthier gut flora as it contains 16.5 billion CFUs* per one scoop. This formula is a source of 9 different types of probiotics (8 species of bacteria and Saccharomyces Boulardii). Biotic 8™ Plus is unique in its delivery mechanism as it ensures survivability of bacteria from stomach acid. It uses GI botanicals (marshmallow root and slippery elm) that soothes and supports the gut, as well as prebiotics that support the helpful bacteria. This formulation also contains enzymes to increase absorption from food nutrients.
THE IMMUNE SYSTEM
The immune system -- the body's defense against disease--is one of the most complex systems in the horse, consisting of an elaborate set of cells and cell mediators that respond to external factors such as stress, exercise, stage of life, and challenges from pathogens. A healthy functioning immune system is important for a horse's overall general health and their demeanor, skin and coat, digestion, etc. can all benefit from maintaining immunity to disease and illness.
Healthy Horse™ is a 4-in-1 product combination of Hemex™, Immune Plus™, Lung Flush® and Liver Flush® in one convenient formula that may increase energy levels of the horse through aiding the natural detoxification processes, stimulating immune functions and supporting healthy red blood cell (RBC) levels. It also supports normal liver and lung functions. Healthy Horse™ is a unique synergistic formula which contains 26 botanicals that have phytonutrients and trace minerals in order to support the overall health of a horse.
Immune Plus™ is another immune supporting formulation that is an herbal concentrate of: Astragalus, Echinacea, Ashwagandha, Ginseng, and Reishi Mushroom. These herbs are known to support and help increase the number of leukocytes and splenocytes, as well as the activity of granulocytes, T-lymphocyte and phagocytes. The botanicals are used to stimulate the natural killer T cell and interleukin systems, thus increasing the body’s ability to resist and endure environmental stress.
Immunity is best supported as a preventive program dependent on the environment, activity, age and herd immunity status. Whether it is one or a combination of these Omega Alpha® products, they can be used proactively in aiding a horse's digestive pathways and enhancing their natural immune system with the synergistic effects of the botanicals, antioxidants, phytonutrients, vitamins and minerals.
If you’re ready to take the leap into owning your very own horse, there are many considerations involved, and lots of preparation to do. But we can help! Here’s our starter guide to owning your first horse.
Choosing a Breed
This should be the first thing you think about. Just like dogs, horse breeds have different dispositions, personalities, and abilities. One breed that is suitable for new horse owners is the American Quarter Horse. As one of the most ubiquitous breeds in North America, the American Quarter Horse is known for its docile nature. This breed’s versatility makes it popular at rodeos, shows, and working on ranches. They exist in nearly all colours, have well-muscled bodies, rounded hindquarters, and broad chests. American Quarter Horses have a reputation as loving and mild-tempered. Another breed a new owner should look into is the Tennessee Walking Horse – also known to be gentle, a good trait for beginners.
Grooming and Healthcare
Keeping your horse happy and healthy will be your number one concern as an owner. There are more health and wellness considerations than the average small family pet, but the rewards are well worth the energy you’ll invest in your horse’s life.
Regular bathing and grooming removes sweat and loose hair and keeps the skin and coat shiny and healthy. You’ll need to consider bathing and grooming supplies – Curry Combs, grooming gloves, and brushes made specifically for a horses coat. Use a hoof pick in your grooming and maintenance routines to make sure they’re free of debris and free from infection so your horse can move with ease and comfort.
Aside from the human apparel you’ll need to have riding adventures with your horse, you’ll also have to think about equipment needed for the horse’s daily life. A good quality saddle that is right for both your needs and the horse’s is essential. They come in many varieties depending on what kind of activity you plan on engaging in together. Bridles and reins will be your communication connection to your horse, allowing you to direct their movement while riding. Halters and leads will help you control movement both on and off your horse.
Another consideration as you prepare to enter the exciting world of horse ownership includes, of course, learning to ride and how to handle and interact with the animal properly. Proper training also includes the issue of rider health and safety, so that both you and your horse are enjoying your time together with minimal risk.And last but certainly not least, is the place your horse will call home. Be sure to thoroughly research your housing options and look for things like safe terrain free from hazards, quality shelters from heat and cold weather, access to salt, etc., and ascertain that your new friend will have proper food and water and regular supervision.
Our horses are like family members and its our responsibility to take care of their health and well-being, whether that’s through proper exercise, nutrition, or grooming. There are many products that help us take great care of them, one of which is the horse blanket.
A blanket can serve several purposes throughout a horse’s life. In colder weather, a blanket designed for warmth is necessary for a horse that spends time outdoors. Winter blankets, or turnouts, are insulated to trap warmth around the horse’s torso, with some including a “hood” extending up the neck as well for further coverage. Winter blankets and coverings are made with a tough waterproof polyester outer layer and filled with warming fibres to retain heat.
Lighter blankets are also available and fill other needs for your horse. Cooling blankets, more commonly referred to as coolers, can be used in summer, and are made of lighter fabrics. Fly sheets help protect the horse from pestering insects, and rain sheets repel water to keep the horse dry and comfortable. The breathable fabric allows air to flow and moisture to escape. Special turnouts also exist to serve as protection during travel or to preserve grooming for show horses.
Some coverings are multi-purpose. A layered turnout can adapt to quickly changing weather – easily swap out a fleece layer for a rainproof layer, or keep your horse comfortable during transportation.Whatever your climate, whatever your needs, Picovs has you covered when it comes to the right blanket or turnout for your horse.
Riding a horse is a totally individualistic experience, with all of us having our own quirks, preferences, relationship with the animal, and overall personal style. Although we all bring our own flair to our riding, most of us in North America tend to fall into one of the two most popular styles – Western and English.
The Western style of riding is heavily influenced by the Spanish Conquistadors who brought it to the Americas. The style was adapted by cowboys to suit the day to day needs on the ranch like herding cattle on horseback. The saddle used by cowboys tended to be more comfortable, designed for long periods of riding over rough terrain, and distributes weight evenly across the horse’s back for the animal’s comfort.
A rider’s attire is reflective of their preferred style of riding as well. Those who have adopted Western style often wear a wide brimmed hat, another element influenced by the hot sun of the cattle ranch, usually made of leather or felt. This style of riding often necessitates a more casual and practical dress code – denim was a favourite of cowboys and other manual laborers for its durability and affordability. The always-recognizable cowboy boot was designed for long periods of riding without slipping, and without laces to avoid any tangles while on the trail.
English riding has European and military origins. Saddle design focuses on allowing the horse freedom of movement to engage in activities like classical dressage and racing. English saddles are often used for everyday pleasure riding, and are used for Equestrian sports in the Olympic games.
Although particulars differ in each style - be it Western or English - the love of the horse and riding are universal traits shared across the entire sport.