Equine Chronicle > Withholding Forage Before Exercise: Dr. Getty Debunks a Harmful Myth


August 29, 2011 Press Release

The horse’s stomach should be empty while exercising to avoid digestive upset. Truth or myth?

Myth. Mostly.

Stevens and Hume 1995


We don’t feel comfortable exercising after a large meal and we therefore assume that our horses don’t either. But define a “meal.” We generally think of a meal as feeding a commercially fortified feed—something that comes out of a bag. Or we may feed a meal of oats along with supplements. And in this instance, the myth is actually truth. This type of meal—low in fiber and high in feedstuffs that provide starch, protein, and fat—should not be fed immediately before exercising your horse. But forage should! It’s just the opposite: Restrict forage before exercise and you’ll produce, rather than avoid, digestive upset. Here’s why…

The horse’s stomach, unlike our own, secretes acid all the time. That’s right—it never stops. Chewing produces saliva, a natural antacid. But left without anything to chew, the acid will accumulate in the stomach and settle along the bottom (as water would in an empty jar). The lower portion of the stomach (the glandular region) has a protective mucus layer, but the upper squamous region has no such lining. Ask your horse to move, and the acid sloshes around, reaching the unprotected area, leading to an ulcer. And, as the acid flows through the small intestine, cecum, and large colon, it can cause further damage along its wake, potentially leading to colic and ulcerative colitis.

Allow your horse to graze on hay or pasture before asking him to move; 15 minutes ought to do the trick. You’ll keep him healthy and save him from physical and mental discomfort, which will all add up to his being more relaxed and receptive.

Dr. Juliet Getty has taught and consulted on equine nutrition for more than 20 years. At http://www.gettyequinenutrition.com horse owners and managers will find a library of helpful articles, a forum on nutrition, and a calendar of appearances, teleconferences and interviews; she is also available for individual consultations. In her next teleseminar (September 15, 8 pm Eastern), Dr. Getty will sort out the facts about joint supplements—register at www.gettyequinenutrition.com .

Dr. Getty’s comprehensive reference book, Feed Your Horse Like A Horse: Optimizing your horse’s nutrition for a lifetime of vibrant health, is available in hardcover and CD-ROM (pdf file) through her website or at Amazon.com. Dr. Getty also offers a free (and popular) monthly e-newsletter, “Forage for Thought”; sign up through the website. Dr. Getty serves as a distinguished advisor to the Equine Sciences Academy, which produces the Whole Horse Symposium. Contact Dr. Getty directly at gettyequinenutrition @ gmail.com or in Colorado at (970) 884-7187

via equinechronicle.com


The effects of different saddle pads on forces and pressure distribution beneath a fitting saddle – KOTSCHWAR – 2010 – Equine Veterinary Journal – Wiley Online Library

Reason for performing study: Saddle pads are widely used in riding sports but their influence on saddle pressures is poorly understood.

Objective: To evaluate the forces acting on the horse’s back, and the eventual pressure distribution by using different saddle pads underneath a fitting saddle.

Methods: Sixteen sound horses of different breeds and ages were ridden on a treadmill at walk and sitting trot. The horses were wearing a dressage saddle with a fitting saddle tree and 4 different saddle pads (gel, leather, foam and reindeer fur) successively. For comparison, measurements were made without any saddle pad. Right forelimb motion was used to synchronise the pressure data with the stride cycles. A pressure mat was used under the saddle pad to collect the kinetic data. Maximum overall force (MOF) and the pressure distribution in longitudinal and transversal direction were calculated to identify differences between the measurements with and without saddle pads.

Results: A significant decrease in MOF was interpreted as improved saddle fit, and a significant increase as worsened saddle fit. Only the reindeer fur pad significantly decreased the MOF from 1005 N to 796 N at walk and from 1650 N to 1437 N at trot compared to without pad measurements. None of the saddle pads increased the MOF significantly when compared to the data without saddle pad. The pressure distribution in longitudinal and transversal direction was also improved significantly only by the reindeer fur pad at trot compared to no pad.

Conclusion: This study demonstrated that a well chosen saddle pad can reduce the load on the horse’s back and therefore improve the suitability of a fitting saddle.

A new helmet

Been riding in the same helmet for years, maybe 4 or was that 6. Anyway the foam padding in it has started to disintegrate from all the sweat I suppose. Plus it has been kept in the car. Actually have couple, with one in the tack room. So even if they had no falls in them that caused head to ground contact, they probably are due for replacement. But to actually get one that fits comfortably was just about impossible. Even though they still supposedly make the model that I wear, it has been changed and has less padding than the old version. But after trying 10 or so different models it was still the best of a bad lot. As it’s not as instantly comfortable as the old model I will put off buying another one and will try more in different stores.