by Juliet M. Getty, Ph.D.
Stress = Obesity
That’s right. Stress is keeping your horse fat. And the main source of stress for most horses? Restricting forage. The very thing most people do to try to help their horse lose weight actually causes the same stress reaction that brings about body fat retention, and all its attendant problems.
I cannot emphasize this enough. Here are the physiological facts—they are indisputable: The horse is a trickle feeder. He’s a grazing animal designed to chew all day long. His chewing produces saliva, which neutralizes the acid that’s continually flowing in his stomach. Your stomach produces acid only when you eat; your horse’s stomach produces acid constantly, even when the stomach is empty (you see where I am going with this—his stomach should never be empty!). He also needs forage flowing through his digestive tract to exercise those muscles; otherwise the muscles get flabby, which can bring on colic from a weak intestinal tract that torques and intussuscepts. Furthermore, the cecum (hindgut) contains the bacteria responsible for digesting fiber from forage. But its exit and entrance are both at the top! In order for digested material to be pushed to the top, the cecum must be full. Otherwise colic can result from material left at the bottom.
[click to continue…]