How to Care for a Rescue Horse: Australian Version

How to Care for a Rescue Horse: Australian Version
Dr. A. Nyland
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How to Care for a Rescue Horse: Australian Version
Copyright 2013 by Dr. A. Nyland
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Cover. Arabian mare Seven Seas La Serenissima ("Sera"). Not the usual rescue case.
Had been lying down for 3 weeks and was covered in deep ulcerated bedsores. "Before"
photo is at perpetrator's place, August 31, 2011, when Sera was rescued, after intensive
veterinary treatment enabling Sera to stand for travel.
"After" photo taken December 31, 2011.
Chapter 1. Introduction
Chapter 2. Worming
Chapter 3. Feeding
Chapter 4. Conditions
Chapter 5. Other Considerations
Chapter 6. Case Histories
Chapter 7. In Summary
Chapter 1. Introduction.
Rescue horses have different needs. Some may be injured, or have wounds, while
others may "only" be skinny. Whatever their circumstances, rescue horses need worming
and feed, and these two very things, if not carried out correctly, may harm or even kill the
horse. This book also takes the reader through several case histories.
Chapter 2. Worming.
I do address this at great length in my book What to Worm Your Horse With, Made
Easy, and give detailed academic references there. I do not include references in this How
To book. I will however speak very briefly about the dangers of worming incorrectly and
tell you what to do.
The first thing to do is not to listen to Uncle Johnny or your cousin's third wife's best
friend who is a Horse Expert, and also, do not consult the net. Many websites come
across as authoritative, but they are misinformed. Also, many ads for dewormers make
claims that are false or misleading.
The use of the wrong type of a wormer in a horse which is badly infested with
certain type of worm leads to a usually fatal condition known as Larval Cyathostomosis.
Now please bear with me while I give you the background on this condition, as it is
very important in the case of a rescue horse.
The net in general, "horse experts" and even some veterinary surgeons recommend
deworming based on 1960s and 1970s conditions. In those days, the dangerous horse
worm was the large strongyle (Strongylus vulgaris) and so worming treatment targeted
this worm. Now that we have ivermectin this worm is no longer a problem, as ivermectin
kills both immature and adult stages of this worm. The large strongyle has a long PrePatent Period of at least 6 months. A Pre-Patent Period means the time between infection
and the first appearance of eggs. This means that once an effective wormer is given on
one occasion, a whole Pre-Patent Period needs to run its course before eggs can infect the
The killer worm these days is the small strongyle (cyathostome). This worm requires
an entirely different type of treatment than the large strongyle.
Why are they so nasty?
First, let us consider what they do. As little as 6 hours after the horse eats them, they
encyst in the intestinal walls. They can stay encysted anything from a few months to a
few years. No deworming product except moxidectin (Equest Plus Tape) or fenbendazole
(such as Panacur 100 or WSD Fenbendazole) can touch these encysted worms at all ivermectin cannot do anything to them at all; it is 100% ineffective.
Deworming with a product which is not moxidectin or fenbendazole kills the non
encysted small strongyles and they pass out of the horse.
You may think this is good, but in fact it is dangerous if a horse has a large
burden of encysted small strongyles.
The reason is that the dewormer kills the non encysted worms, so the horse’s body
gives the encysted ones the signal to emerge in large numbers to replace them. As they
burst through the lining of the intestine, they bring with them their highly toxic
accumulated waste products. The condition this causes is known as Larval
Cyathostomosis and in the acute cases is usually fatal. The onset can be rapid.
In milder cases, the horse will show colic, loss of appetite, and diarrhea.
Larval Cyathostomosis is often misdiagnosed as gastric ulcers or as eosinophilic
enteritis, or even just as “colic.” Unless vets are up with reading the latest academic
veterinary articles or attending the latest veterinary conferences, they may be completely
unaware of this.
The bottom line is that when a horse who has a lot of encysted cyathostomes is
wormed with a standard wormer (that is, a non-moxidectin or non-fenbendazole wormer),
the standard wormer kills the small strongyles living in the lumen. (By the way,
ivermectin is a standard wormer.) It kills the ones of course that are not encysted as it has
zero power to affect the ones that are encysted. The non-encysted worms die and are
passed out of the horse.
If there were a lot of small strongyles in the lumen of the horse, and because they
have been killed in one go, the encysted small strongyles who have been sitting inside the
horse untouched by this standard wormer are given the signal to emerge en masse
(bringing with them toxins) to replace the ones that the standard wormer killed.
In mild cases, this will cause mild colic and /or scouring and /or weight loss, but
in horses which have a high burden it will cause serious colic and/or death.
When they emerge they release toxins from accumulated larval waste products, and
this is the problem with these worms. Horses can die when a large number burst through
the colon wall and they become sick when a small number burst through. This is known
as "Larval Cyathostomosis."
Again, horses recently dewormed by a wormer such as ivermectin or pyrantel which
cannot harm or touch the encysted stages but which does kill the lumen-dwelling larvae
and adults, are at risk of Larval Cyathostomosis.
Other contributing factors include seasonal conditions (autumn and winter), young
horses (often 6 years of age or younger, although older horses have died from Larval
How to prevent this with your rescue horse? Worm with moxidectin (for example
Equest Plus Tape) or a 5-consecutive-day dose of fenbendazole (for example Panacur
100) at the dose rate of 10 mg/kg per day (each day over a 5 day course).
If you do this, not only do you kill a large burden of non-encysted adult small
strongyles killed, but you also kill a large burden of the encysted ones who were waiting
to replace them. Thus your horse will not get Larval Cyathostomosis.
With rescue horses, I always worm at once, then 2 weeks later worm again, then 2
weeks later, worm again. I use moxidectin or fenbendazole in each case.
I do NOT wait until the horse has gained weight to worm them.
Caution! Horses 15 months or younger.
If a young horse who has a huge burden of ascarids (roundworms) is wormed, the
ascarids may cause a blockage in the gut and suffer impacted colic. This is why many
veterinarians suggest to give a half dose of dewormer initially. However, this is a Catch
22, because a half dose of wormer is likely to cause encysted cyathostomes to migrate,
possibly causing Larval Cyathostomosis.
Impacted colic and Larval Cyathostomosis can both be fatal. If you have a young
horse and have reason to suspect a heavy burden of ascarids, most parasitologists
recommend to give a single dose of fenbendazole (e.g. Panacur 100) at 5 mg/kg. This is,
for example, the normal label dose rate in USA but is half the label dose rate in Australia.
A week later, give the 5 day course of Panacur 100 at 10 mg/kg (this is the normal
Australian label dose) - do this for 5 consecutive days. If however, you get a huge amount
of ascarids in the droppings, it would be sensible to give another single dose a week later
of fenbendazole (Panacur 100 or WSD Fenbendazole) at 5 mg/kg and then wait a week
for the 5 day dose at 10 mg/kg, and this is the dose that will deal with the encysted
Bear in mind you will still need to give ivermectin fairly soon to kill the migrating
stages of ascarids, or moxidectin (Equest Plus Tape) if the horse is over 6 months of age.
It is important to note that the reason that some veterinarians advise to give a half (or
smaller) dose of wormer to an emaciated horse is FOR YOUNG HORSES ONLY, due to
the danger of ascarids being impacted in the gut. Unfortunately, some recommend that a
half dose be given to older horses, which not only is pointless, as older horses do develop
immunity to ascarids, but is also inviting Larval Cyathostomosis.
In a nutshell:
1) Fecal egg counts CANNOT tell you ANYHING about encysted cyathostomes
because encysted cyathostomes DO NOT LAY EGGS. A horse can have a massive
burden of these worms and return a zero fecal egg count.
2) The killer worm today is the small strongyle. Huge numbers of vets, websites, and
horse owners are blissfully unaware of this scientific fact, and still worm for the regimes
aimed at problem worm decades ago.
3) Encysted small strongyles cannot be affected in any way by any dewormer other
than moxidectin (Equest Plus Tape) or fenbendazole (five consecutive day dose of
Panacur 100 or WSD Fenbendazole). You could worm until you were blue in the face
with abamectin, ivermectin, pyrantel and so on, and the encysted small strongyles would
not even notice.
4) If you worm with abamectin, ivermectin, pyrantel and so on and your horse has a
heavy burden of encysted small strongyles, you are risking Larval Cyathostomosis as it is
a non-contentious, scientific fact that worming with one of these dewormers is the main
cause of Larval Cyathostomosis.
5) The ONLY worming products that can kill stages of encysted small strongyles are
moxidectin (Equest Plus Tape) or a 5 day consecutive dose of fenbendazole (Panacur 100
or WSD Fenbendazole).
6) Do NOT underdose.
If your rescue horse is very debilitated, you may feel more comfortable giving
Panacur 100 (or WSD Fenbendazole). I myself have always given Equest Plus Tape with
no problems.
Be careful in foals however. Different countries have different recommendations for
the age a foal can be given moxidectin. Use Panacur 100 (or WSD Fenbendazole) in the
case of younger foals.
Also be careful with miniature horses. You need to get the dosage right. If you
google, you will find good horse weight calculators. Here is a link to one:
Bear in mind this was an overview, and for full information, please read my book
What to Worm Your Horse With, Made Easy.
Chapter 3. Feeding.
It is very important to introduce large amounts of feed slowly, and to feed smaller
feeds often.
A horse should not go without food for more than six hours, given the way their
digestive systems are designed. This is particularly important in the case of a rescue
Be very careful with changes in feed.
Increase feed slowly.
Make changes to feed slowly.
This is important with all horses, but particularly the case in rescue horses. It is even
more important in the case of a heavily pregnant mare, as they are quite prone to colic.
This applies to hay and grass too. Do not let a rescue horse onto a lush green
paddock. Introduce such a feeding scenario slowly.
The microbes in the horse's gut are adapted to the horse's usual diet. If suddenly the
horse eats something vastly different, different types of microbes rapidly appear and the
old ones die. This can lead to diarrhea and to colic.
Common sense.
A rescue horse may not be eating their feed. If this is the case, SYRINGE all
supplements down the horse's neck. Do NOT put the supplements in the feed if the horse
is not cleaning up their feed.
Do not use the type of syringe used for injecting. Instead, get one of those paste
tubes of electrolytes or Vitamin B. Give it to the horse, then clean out the tube. These
tubes of paste are ideal for syringing stuff over the horse's tongue and can be used over
and over again.
Yes, your horse may not generally like having stuff syringed over the tongue, but
these things taste yummy and nothing like wormers, so they will soon be keen and even
open their mouth at the sight of a syringe.
Feed leftovers.
If the horse has leftovers in the feed bin by the next meal, THROW THEM OUT!!
Yes I know feed is expensive but so is a vet bill from eating old rotting feed full of
bacteria. The horse will not eat horrible stale feed anyway, so throw it out!
Sports drinks - Gatorade, PowerAde, and so on - are very important in the case of a
rescue horse. Why not powder? Because giving electrolytes in water is far more effective
for hydration, and sports drinks often have added extra goodies. Some horses prefer one
flavor over the other. My rescued mare Sera (see later in the book) loved Blackcurrant
PowerAde and it took her a few months to like the blue one. (Why did I buy the blue one
when she didn't like it? It was cheaper to buy in a multi-colored six pack!)
Again, if the horse is not cleaning up the feed, syringe half a bottle at a time over the
horse's tongue. It will take you a while, but it's worth it.
Horses love sports drinks. Even if a horse does not initially like the look of a paste
tube, the horse will soon be chasing you for the paste tube when he or she is used to the
taste that comes in it.
If you have an Insulin Resistant (IR/EMS) horse, do not give sports drinks because
you want to avoid the sugar in this case. Give simple electrolyte powder mixed with
I also recommend vitamin and electrolyte pastes which are freely available from a
variety of manufacturers.
If the horse is off their feed, keep giving vitamin and electrolyte pastes.
Of course, as I produce Seras Fix supplements, I recommend those! They are to
found here: I believe every horse needs Essentials, and I
have developed an Essentials called Rescue Horse Essentials especially for Rescue
Horses, as the name suggests.
I also recommend Digest Elite, one of the ingredients of which is Yea-Sacc. Again,
syringe over the tongue if the horse is not cleaning up the feed. Yea-Sacc is highly
beneficial. In case you want to know, Yea-Sacc is a live yeast culture based on
Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Yea-Sacc improves the digestion of fiber and ensures healthy
fermentation of feed. It goes a long way to helping the horse avoid digestive upset.
Vitamin B.
I am heavy handed with giving Vitamin B Complex to rescue horses, and I am
convinced it is partly responsible for the wonderful results I have had with rescue horses
for many years. Buy it in a tube (there are many B Complex pastes for horses on the
market) and syringe it over the horse's tongue - weekly, or twice a week to start with in
bad cases. It also stimulates the appetite. When the horse starts eating well, you can leave
off the pastes and start the horse on daily brewer's yeast or even buy Vitamin B complex
tablets for humans and drop them in their feed. Many horses love the taste of these and
will take them from your hand.
I am huge fan of giving Vitamin B.
Vitamin E.
This is often cheaper (and it is far better!) to buy in the form of gel capsules for
humans. Always buy the Natural form and give 2,000 iu per day for the first few weeks,
then drop to 1,000 iu for maintenance. (If you can only get the Artificial type, double the
dose.) If the horse is not yet cleaning up the feed, cut the capsule in half and squeeze the
oil in with the sports drink then syringe over the tongue. Once the horse is cleaning up the
feed, just throw in the capsules and stir, and the horse will readily eat them.
Vitamin A.
Very important for the rescue horse, and easily provided by feeding a few carrots a
day. Make sure you slice them lengthwise so that the horse will not choke. Do NOT give
carrots to horses who are DSLD/EPSA, IR/EMS, or overweight.
By the way, carrots are sure not a natural wormer nor do they have any effect
whatsoever on arthritis.
What to feed?
I have found that rescue horses do exceptionally well on pellets - pelletized feed,
and/or extruded feed. I strongly prefer not to give the muesli type feeds until the horse is
back to normal weight.
However, my favorite feed for rescue horses is beet. I run the horse rescue charity
Morrigan Horse Rescue and Rehab Inc., and every single horse here is on beet.
Feeding Fat.
There is huge controversy about feeding fat to horses. I myself have found the feed
product Equi-Jewel good in the rescue horse. Some recommend Rice Bran Oil, at around
110 - 120 grams a day, or even a bit more, a day but see my caution following.
It is important to remember that horses were not made to eat a lot of fat. If you are
feeding large amounts of fat, you need to increase the protein, and make sure that the
horse is eating plenty of hay/and or grass. You do not want the horse eating fat at the
expense of hay or grass.
There are many popular forms of fat pushed by clever and aggressive marketing to
the horse owning public. Some of these include fish oils. To that I say, horses are not
carnivores. I myself do not feed fish oil to horses. I get the Omegas 3s and 6s in the
correct ratio into horses by feeding flax seed (linseed).
Some fish oils on the market are far too high in Omega 6s.
Ground linseed.
(Linseed, flax, and flaxseed -same thing, different names.)
Linseed has many benefits, not least being that it is a rich source of Omega 3s, and
has Omega 3 and Omega 6 in the correct ratio for horses. Omega 3 and Omega-6 cannot
be manufactured by the horse. Horses who are not on grass do need linseed in their diet.
Linseed is of considerable help in respiratory disease, skin conditions, and arthritis.
Basically, the three types of EFAs (essential fatty acids) of Omega 3 are ALA, EPA,
and DHA. Grass (plants in general) are high in ALA but do not have EPA or DHA. On
the other hand, fish oils are high in EPA and DHA (as the fish eat plants and then convert
the ALA to EPA and DHA). If you read what companies which sell fish oil for horses
say, they will sound convincing but do not mention that the fish oils have had to be
heavily processed before they can be fed to horses. Why bother when linseed has around
the same profile of omega 3s and 6s and is plant and not animal matter? It's not a good
idea to be putting the wrong levels of omega 6s into your horse.
But how do we feed linseed?
Okay, back to the nonsense found on the net. There is scaremongering on the net that
there is cyanide in linseed seed. Yes there is a tiny amount, and there also is in cashews
and almonds. The FDA stated that there was no concern that there would be “any more
exposure to hydrogen cyanide than from other foods such as lima beans, fava beans,
chickpeas, cassava, yams, cashews or almonds.”
There has been no reported case of a horse suffering linseed toxicity.
The Omega 3s in linseed oil are highly unstable so your best bet is to grind the
linseed. If you use a home coffee grinder you will be there all day, so use a blender with
stainless steel blades. This will do the job quickly.
For horses with skin problems, arthritis, or Itch, give 1 g/kg per day. This works out
to 450 grams in a 450 kg horse. Otherwise, you can feed a far smaller amount with good
Grass provides lots of Omega 3s but hay does not. I give ground linseed to any horse
who is not eating grass.
Linseed and chia have a very similar profile, but chia does not need to be ground.
However, it is more expensive, and does not have quite as much Omega 3 as flax.
Generally, the Omega 3s in linseed are 4 times more than Omega 6s. (Chia has just
over 3 times.) This is ideal for horses.
On the other hand, sunflower seeds are way too high in Omega 6. They have well
over 300 more times Omega 6s than Omega 3s (and this is very bad for horses).
Let us look at some oils. Olive oil has around 13 times more Omega 6s than 3s (bad)
and Safflower oil doesn't even have any Omega 3s (bad).
Think of this way: Omega 3s are anti inflammatory, and Omega 6 are pro
inflammatory. Most horse feeds today are very high in omega 6s, so it's no wonder that
recent years have seen an increase of all sorts of horse health problems.
Again, linseed is optimally balanced for Omega 3 and Omega 6 for the horse. If you
are feeding rice bran or sunflower seeds, or a pre-mix feed which contains these, it is
even more important to feed linseed, as sunflower seeds and rice bran have very little if
any Omega 3 and are very high only in Omega 6. Omega 6 is pro-inflammatory, so you
need to get the good Omega 3 which is in linseed into the horse if you are feeding these
feeds. Other feeds which have very little if any Omega 3 (remember, you need Omega 3)
are cottonseed meal, peanut meal, and safflower meal.
Rice bran oil is very low in Omega 3s. Again be cautious of oils - horses have not
evolved to eat fat or oils, and their Omega 3 requirements are met by grass or ground
linseed. Oils are usually highly processed with the use of chemicals.
Rescue horses often have a suppressed appetite, but will find a warm bran mash very
appetising. Put Prydes steam-extruded full fat soybean meal (Prydes Protein Pak) and
ground flax/linseed in the mash. Stir, and make sure the mash is wet. Wet mashes soon
expand, so let it stand for three minutes then add more water if necessary. It should be a
wet slop.
I recommend Prydes full fat soybean meal as it is steam extracted. On the other hand,
chemically extracted full fat soybean meal uses the chemical hexane, which was featured
in the based-on-true-life film Erin Brokovitch. Steam extraction does not do this. Also,
steam destroys trypsin inhibitors in soy and this is a good thing.
There is a bizarre, and need I say, unfounded, myth that pollard lays deposits of fat
around the heart or the other organs. Nonsense! Some of the people who claim this
actually feed their horses genuinely high fat feeds at any rate. It makes no sense. Rice
bran has a far higher fat content than wheat pollard.
Like bran, pollard is a by product of milling the grain. Bran is the coat of the seed,
and pollard is the bit between the bran (outer coat) and the seed itself.
Wheat pollard generally has an average of 7% crude fiber and 15% protein. Bran
generally has an average of 9% crude fiber and 17% protein. Pollard has an average of
around 5.7% fat while bran has an average of 4.5% fat. Rice bran sits around 15% to 20%
Like wheat bran, pollard is much higher in phosphorus than calcium.
Rice bran.
Rice bran, being so high in fat, is low GI and so can be fed in small amounts to
rescue horses who are laminitic, DSLD/EPSA, or IR/EMS.
Soy Hulls.
I prefer beet to soy hulls for rescue horses, unless they are IR/EMS horses who are
overweight and / or laminitic, and then these are ideal.
Beet pulp.
Excellent stuff. Make sure you read the soaking directions and follow them carefully.
Rescue horses will often refuse this at first, so I do not feed it at the normally
recommended rates for the first few weeks.
It also works as a prebiotic, so it is a good idea to get some into the horse. When the
horse is happily eating bran mash, start sneaking in some beet pulp.
One thing to watch with beet pulp - if it is a variety which has added molasses, rinse
it thoroughly before soaking. Rinse until it runs clear.
Thin horses are colder than well cared for horses, so in cold weather make sure your
rescue horse is appropriately rugged. Obviously, do not leave a rug on too long without
checking, as rescue horses will rub very easily.
Horses with wounds need more protein than other horses.
Even if your rescue horse is not wounded, your horse will still need protein. Do not
believe anyone who tells you that grass is always high in lysine. Ask them to show you a
specific scientific study. People say that horses evolved on grass, but they did not evolve
on tropical grasses or the grasses that have been developed for dairy cattle. Studies in fact
show that tropical grasses, for example, are low in lysine. This is the essential amino acid
needed for growth.
Full fat soybean meal has all the essential amino acids. It is high in lysine.
The essential amino acid tyrosine (also in full fat soybean meal) is needed for good
black coat color in the horse. If your black horse is washed out, so-called "sunbleached,"
or brown - and this would be the vase with a rescue horse - give full fat soybean meal and
make sure your supplement is correctly balanced for copper and zinc in the diet.
I always supplement my horses from birth with full feed soybean meal to ensure they
receive their essential amino acids.
Again, make sure the full fat soybean meal is steam extracted - NOT chemically
Amount of hard feed (that is, non-grass, non-hay) to feed.
Many people get a rescue horse, and then feed the horse a large bucketful of hard
feed each feed in an attempt to get weight on the horse quickly.
This does not work. It has never taken me more than ten days, yes, that's ten days, to
get a considerable amount of weight on an emaciated horse, providing of course the horse
was not injured or had other health issues. I have had, without exception, ribs covered in
ten days, even in the case of horses who have been underfed and neglected for years.
The main thing is to feed a LOT of good quality hay and/or grass, and keep your
hard feeds small. I myself do not add chaff to the feed mix. I keep my hard feeds to a
maximum of 1.5 kg per feed, and feed as much hay and grass as the horse can eat. If
feeding solely a pelleted horse feed, to give you a rough idea, I would feed no more than
just over half a 12 litre bucket per feed. This keeps the fiber fermentation going along
nicely. Build up to this amount slowly.
Again, build up the hay and the grass; the horse needs to be started on it slowly with
gradually increasingly amounts.
If you are feeding a lot of lucerne hay or other calcium grasses, your bran mash as a
source of phosphorus then becomes more important.
If the horse is grazing on kikuyu grass or other high oxalate grasses, then it is very
important to feed this rescue horse free choice lucerne hay and also add calcium to the
Once the horse has put on weight and is looking respectable, you can move to a
mixture of beet pulp and oats or just add oats to the diet.
Oats are a good feed, despite what some feed companies may try to tell you. Just be
careful not to feed too much, as too much grain will have an adverse effect on hind gut
fermentation. Feed them whole.
If you do not take my advice which is to feed beet, then I recommend giving a little
bran mash first before the feed, and adding the goodies to it. (Remember, if the horse will
not eat every last bit of the bran mash, syringe the supplements over the horse's tongue.)
As I said before, make this a very wet sloppy feed. It should be very sloppy and not hold
its shape. After the horse has finished the bran mash, then give the hard feed. Do NOT
mix the bran mash with feed. Only give one or two small bran mashes per day.
Rinse out all buckets and feed containers after each feed. At the very least, a fussy
eater will be put off by the smell of stale feed. Stale feed is a source of bacteria, so make
sure the buckets are very clean - a wash of diluted white vinegar is ideal.
Make sure the rescue horse can gain free access to salt. It is safe to provide free
access to salt for your horse as it is the one mineral that horses will actively seek out.
Extra sodium is easily excreted in the urine so it is quite safe to leave out amounts of salt
free choice.
In hot weather, it is safer to add a tablespoon of salt a day to the horse's feed.
Do not put out mineral bricks or the pink (Himalayan) salt licks as these are typically
high in iron (bad).
Aged horses.
There are many good premixed feeds out there specifically for the aged horse. They
are also easier to chew.
However, I have several horses over the age of 22 y.o here at Morrigan Horse
Rescue and Rehab and they are all mud fat on beet and oats (plus bran, Prydes steamextracted full fat soybean meal, ground flax, and ad. lib. lucerne hay, plus their Seras Fix
Probiotics are particularly important for the aged horse so here they get Digest Elite
as well.
Obviously, dental care is very important as well.
Do you know the one statement that makes me hopping mad? When someone
speaking of their ribby broodmare says, "She's putting everything into the foal."
The reason a broodmare is ribby is that she is NOT GETTING ENOUGH TO EAT!
If she is putting everything into the foal, then feed her more (or better)! It's not rocket
There is NO excuse for ribs on a broodmare.
Now, if you have rescued a mare with a foal at foot, you are starting behind, as
lactation is largely dependent on the last three months of pregnancy.
What can you do? Feed, feed, feed. Unless you have abundant, excellent and non
oxalate (oxalates being tropical grasses such as kikuyu) grass, then oats are fantastic in
this situation. I myself suggest feeding beet with oats, but there are many specialist
broodmare premix feeds on the market. Feeding free choice lucerne hay is excellent and
will help keep up the calcium requirements. If feeding large amounts of lucerne, feed
bran as well for phosphorus. Do everything else I say in this book.
Make sure you feed steam extracted full fat soybean meal as the lysine is necessary
for growth. Feed 450 grams of Prydes (or a genuinely steam extracted product) full fat
soybean meal a day to a broodmare.
Feed a pregnant mare in the last 3 months heavily as well.
There is no excuse for ribs on a broodmare, even a Thoroughbred broodmare.
The following photos of two of my mares show the ideal condition for a foaling
mare. The below is Quarab mare Aloha Arctic Gold with her 20 minute old foal Hyksos
Good As Gold.
The below is 23 y.o. Arabian mare Wincar Nartal with her foal Hyksos Leto.
Do NOT feed garlic, as it causes Heinz Body Anaemia in horses. One study found
that garlic was toxic to horses in an amount as small as 100 grams (3 ½ ounces), but the
study also showed that garlic may have been toxic in much smaller amounts if fed daily.
Fact: Garlic causes Heinz Body Anemia in horses. There is great deal of incorrect
information on the net about feeding garlic to horses plus wildly incorrect reporting on
studies which have been done.
I give detailed references to the studies on this, and also correct the misinformation,
in my book Natural Horse Care the Right Way.
Sulfur deficiency has never been found in horses. High levels of (yellow) sulfur
depress copper absorption. Sulfur also interferes with the assimilation of selenium.
Apple Cider Vinegar
Is Apple Cider Vinegar of any value?
If you believe it has value, then by all means, feed it! However, please do not feed it
just because you think it is high in potassium (it is not) or cures arthritis (NO evidence this is myth!) or has other qualities which it does not have. I am not saying not to feed it;
I am saying be aware what it does not have (or do) in case you are feeding it for the
wrong reasons.
Clearly the ACV with the "mother" in it is by far the best.
Many thousands of web pages glowingly testify to the alleged curative powers of
Apple Cider Vinegar. Here are some the facts as set out in my book Natural Horse Care
The Right Way.
Myth. Hippocrates used apple cider vinegar.
Facts. I can safely say this is not the case. Hippocrates did use vinegar a lot, and wine –
he also advocated drilling holes in someone’s head if they fell off a horse – but he never
once mentions Apple Cider Vinegar. In fact, he often says the vinegar must be white
Hippocrates also suggested treating new wounds by washing them with wine, then
applying vinegar, then dusting on fine lead powder ground up with copper oxide. Yikes!
Another method of his was to boil bits of nettle tree in white vinegar, adding olive paste
and the watery bits of unboiled wood tar, then putting it on the wound with a bandage
over the top.
Myth. Hippocrates first used it in 4,000 BC and it was the first man made medicine.
(These bizarre claims about Apple Cider Vinegar appear in a published book.)
Facts. Hippocrates was born around 460 BC, forget the extra “0” in the book which has
him some 3,500 years earlier. No one, of course, knows what the first human-made
medicine was, but Hippocrates certainly wasn’t associated with it, as whole civilizations
which had doctors lived for centuries before him.
Myth. The Babylonians used Apple Cider Vinegar.
Facts. No evidence. They used vinegar. It is simply a by-product of making wine. One
popular website on Apple Cider Vinegar even confuses Babylonians with Sumerians.
Lucky they are not around these days to be offended!
Myth. Apple Cider Vinegar contains pectin.
Facts. No, sorry, it doesn’t contain any measurable amount.
Myth. Apple Cider Vinegar is good source of potassium.
Facts. No it is not. At any rate a horse needs only 23 grams of potassium per day,
(National Research Council Nutrient Requirements of Horses, 6th. Ed., 2007) and this is
not much at all; this amount is found in 1/6 of a baked potato. To put this in terms of the
general kitchen, there is far more potassium in a baked potato than in a cup of apple cider
Remember, a horse requires 23 grams of potassium a day. Here are some common horse
feedstuffs and the amounts you need to feed your horses to provide them with the daily
requirement of potassium.
Grass Hay (1.894 percent = 18.94 g/kg) Approx. 1.2 kg (2.6 lbs) grass hay gives 23
grams potassium.
Pasture (1.991 percent = 19.91 g/kg) Approx. 1.2 kg (2.6 lbs) pasture gives 23 grams
Legume Hay (2.405 percent = 24.05 g/kg) Approx. 0.9 kg (1.9 lbs) legume hay gives 23
grams potassium.
Peavine Hay (1.898 percent = 18.98 g/kg) Approx. 1.2 kg (2.6 lbs) peavine hay gives 23
grams potassium.
Lucerne cubes (2.298 percent = 22.98 g/kg) Approx. 1.0 kg (2.2 lbs) lucerne cubes gives
23 grams potassium.
Oats (0.556 percent = 5.56 g/kg) Approx. 4.1 kg (9.0 lbs) oats gives 23 grams potassium.
Wheat Bran (1.219 percent = 12.19 g/kg) Approx. 1.8 kg (3.9 lbs) wheat bran gives 23
grams potassium.
Rice Bran (1.462 percent = 14.62 g/kg) Approx. 1.5 kg (3.3 lbs) rice bran gives 23 grams
You can see that a horse barely has to eat any grass or hay at all to fulfil their potassium
requirements. And remember, more is not better.
Look at the following analysis taken from the USDA results for Nutrients in Apple Cider
Vinegar. (USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 21, 2008.)
Note in particular all the zeros! Apple Cider Vinegar has zero Vitamin C, thiamine,
vitamin B6, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, folate, Vitamin B12, Vitamin A, Vitamin
E, Vitamin K, lycopene, theobromine, beta-carotene, alpha-carotene, beta-cryptoxanthin,
lutein or zeaxanthin, Tryptophan, Threonine, Isoleucine, Leucine, Lysine or Methionine.
Iron - VERY bad for horses.
Yes, people do need iron. Horses do not need iron. Bear in mind that chocolate is not
toxic to humans but is toxic to dogs. What works for one species doesn't always work for
another. Horses cannot easily get rid of iron from their systems. (That's why bleeding
works for racehorse trainers - they are getting the iron out.)
Be aware that there is NO, not one, ever, report of diet-related iron deficiency in the
adult horse. Unfortunately, many veterinary surgeons who are unaware of more recent
research will be unaware of this. Vets and scientists even used to think that horse's livers
were meant to be black, before it was discovered that black livers were caused by iron
NEVER feed an iron supplement to your horse.
Horses cannot easily secrete iron. Excess iron interferes with the absorption of zinc,
predisposes the horse to infection, predisposes the horse to arthritis and Itch, even DSLD/
ESPA, increases the risk of tendon and ligament problems, increases the risk of liver
disease, and alters the metabolism of glucose. If iron is too high in the diet, then copper
and zinc will be low. The iron:copper:zinc ratio has to be within a certain range, and iron
commonly far unbalances the copper and zinc ratios.
If a horse has iron overload, the coat will be faded, and/or reddish in the case of a
dark horse. The mane may look sunburned, faded and have a bleached look and
sometimes frizzy (and bleached looking) ends. What we know as "sunbleaching" is
actually caused by a lack of copper and / or zinc.
With bays, a lighter reddish or faded bay is likely to have iron overload – a darker
coat color is good, a faded color is not. It is harder to tell with chestnuts and grays, but
again, the coat has a faded, washed out or just-clipped look. When the horse is not ironoverloaded, the color is bright, even in grays, and the black parts of the coat will be
pronounced. Some red bay or brown horses are actually black (or dark black/brown) but
have iron overload. There can be a most dramatic color change when copper and zinc are
correctly balanced in the diet to the iron. The Seras Fix mineral supplement Essentials
will address this problem.
The photo following, left side, is the rescue horse "Grace" the day she arrived at
Morrigan Horse Rescue and Rehab. She had been rescued by others and she had already
put on considerable weight by the time she arrived here. Look at the difference in her in
short time after being put on Essentials.
Yearling Thoroughbred filly, well cared for, rugged, and in good condition.
Before starting on correct supplement. I hope you can see the difference despite the
photos not being in colour.
Only 3 weeks later.
If someone tells you a horse's blood results indicate iron deficiency, look at the
MCHC (mean cell hemoglobin concentration). Is this within the normal range at all? If
so, the horse is not iron deficient. As I said, there has never been a case of diet related
iron deficiency in an adult horse. What causes anemia in the horse? Inadequate zinc and /
or copper. This is very commonly misdiagnosed as an iron deficiency. A lack of zinc
and / or copper then causes less haemoglobin in the blood.
Horse owners often treat hay as just filler, roughage, but it is far more than that, and
is essential to the digestive tract health of the horse. Hay has a relaxing effect on the
stomach. This is the reason many horses will refuse grain and instead eat hay after a hard
The Bottom Line on Feeding.
Do NOT feed garlic.
Do NOT feed iron.
Do NOT feed yellow sulfur.
Do NOT believe the advertising on all horse feeds or oils.
Do NOT feed a large amount of concentrates or premixed feed in the one feed. This
DO increase feed amounts slowly. Start feeding small amounts of feed several times
a day but DO build up to free choice grass or free choice hay or a combination of free
choice grass and hay.
Do feed salt.
Do WET all feed. Dampen a little in the case of pellets (but don't dissolve them into
mush!), and feed bran mash as a very wet slop.
Do feed steam extracted full fat soybean meal for the essential amino acids and
Do feed linseed. You will need to grind it in a blender (far more efficient and time
saving than a coffee grinder). Do NOT boil it as this kills the Omega 3s.
How do I get my horse to eat?
Rescue horses usually have depressed appetite, and the same goes for sick horses.
Do not give up after a few days! I have lost count of the horses who have arrived
here refusing to eat anything but hay or refusing to eat wet feed. Now they all eat a
speedibeet slop.
Here are some tips:
1) If the horse will not eat hard feed, offer a small amount once a day. If the horse is
eating hay, pull some hay apart and mix a SMALL amount of hard feed through the hay.
Keep doing this until the horse will eat it all, then increase this to twice a day, still
keeping the amounts small.
2) When the horse will eat that, offer the feed (still a small amount) without the hay.
If the horse does not clean this up, skip the hard feed for one feed (i.e. only give it once a
3) When the horse is eating hard feed twice a day, mix up a little beet - a tiny amount
- and soak it by itself. When it is soaked (you do not want it too wet), mix this TINY
amount of beet through the feed.
4) Make increases slowly, and always remove ALL feed from the previous meal. Do
NOT be tempted to leave it.
4) Putting the rescue horse in with another horse is a good way to make the rescue
horse clean up the feed, but wait until the horse is eating dry hard feed twice a day.
5) Read the rest of this book for other tips.
My own experience.
People often ask me what I feed the rescue horses. I feed ad.lib. lucerne /grass mix
hay or just straight lucerne, Speedibeet, wheat bran, Prydes steam extracted full fat
soybean meal, salt, Digest Elite, and various Seras Fix supplements.
Chapter 4. Conditions.
Call a good rehabilitation trimmer without delay.
Here is an excellent site where there is a drop-down box for you to select your
country and state, then it brings up a list of hoof care providers.
I also highly recommend the Chinese herb Jiaogulan. Trials have been done on this
herb's efficacy in laminitic horses. Here is an excellent site detailing the trials that Dr.
Kellon, a leading equine nutritionist, did on Jiaogulan with laminitic horses. Although the
trails were conducted in 2006, the information on this page is most useful and valid:
I myself used Jiaogulan with great success in my rescue horse Sera. She had a badly
rotated coffin bone / pedal bone (same thing - called different names in different
countries) penetrating the sole, but had remarkably rapid hoof growth on Jiaogulan. Since
then, I have rehabbed many a laminitic rescue horse with correct trim, jioagulan, and
correct diet.
If your horse has dietary related laminitis, make sure you also have your horse on the
correct feed. Beet (UNmolassed!) and soy hulls are good, and so is Prydes Easi Sport.
Keep the horse well away from grass. Be careful as some feeds are marketed for laminitic
horses but are not in fact suitable. Avoid white (wheaten or oaten) chaff as it is high in
sugars. Lucerne and lucerne/grass are ideal hays.
By the way, copra is low GI but is very poor quality protein.
It is highly important not to starve a horse with laminitis. Do not restrict their feed,
just give the correct type of feed. Obviously, you need to remove or restrict grass, but the
horse must be eating.
People often give bute, but you need to get the laminitis under control with correct
trim, correct feed, and jioagulan. Besides, some studies have shown that bute makes
laminitis worse, and you cannot give bute when giving jioagulan. Jioagulan will bring out
any brewing abscesses, so the horse may seem worse for the first week or so.
Below is a 15 y.o. horse I rescued. This horse had Cushing's. Not all Cushing's
horses have symptoms as obvious as this.
If you rescue a horse with Cushing's, the very best thing to do is to go to this website
and join the Equine Cushing’s and Insulin Resistance Group:
You will find the Emergency Diet in the File Section. You need to start the horse on
this immediately. The same goes for Insulin Resistant horses. There is a wealth of
information on this site and it is run by Dr. Eleanor Kellon.
When you join, select the "Read on Internet" option and do not select individual
messages or the Daily Digest, as there are over 10,000 members and you will be
inundated with emails. You will find the File Section invaluable.
Here is the website matching the just-mentioned group:
The following is the horse 10 weeks later.
I have all the information you need on Itch here at http://www.the
Chapter 5. Other Considerations.
Make sure you quarantine any new horse for three weeks after arrival. This means
keeping your horse well away from other horses. Obviously, the rescue horse and any
other horses should not be able to reach each other over the fence. There needs to be a
corridor between the new horse and other horses. The incubation period of strangles for
example is one to three weeks.
Make sure you do not use the same feed bins, and do not go from the quarantined
horse to another horse. Attend to the quarantined horse last, and make sure you wash
your hands. Disinfect your boots. It pays to be careful!
You will need to tell visitors they are not allowed to go near the rescue horse or walk
through their paddock or yard. I have found that many even experienced horse people
will disregard this, so again, it pays to be super careful.
Yes, you will need to get a horse dentist to attend to the horse at some point. Ask
around for someone who is kind to the horse and comes well recommended.
It is often the case that a rescue horse will seem to go through a personality change
about six weeks after rescue. Be prepared for the horse to feel well and perhaps get up to
all kinds of tricks.
The most mild mannered rescue horse could become a nightmare down the track
with other horses at feed time and may turn into a kicking monster. Just be prepared.
It's a good idea to inform the local animal welfare body that you have just rescued a
horse. Inform neighbors as well.
If you do not intend to get a veterinary surgeon to check the horse, it's a good idea at
the very least to inform her or him that you have the horse.
The Unhandled Horse.
Some rescue horses are completely unhandled, and have suffered very serious stress
from being chased through sale yards and possibly beaten as well.
How would you feel if another species captured you and terrified you, and perhaps
chased you and beat you? Horses are not mind readers so do not know that you intend
them no harm. You need to develop a relationship with the rescue horse and this could
take time. Do not rush anything. Often standing still, offering hay handful by handful, is
the best way to make friends.
Make very sure you avoid doing anything to scare the horse further. Is the halter half
off? Let it stay that way for now! Is the mane horribly tangled? Leave it alone! Your
priority at this stage is NOT to frighten the horse. Mental welfare before cosmetic
appearance! Mental welfare before what your friends think!
Chapter 6. Case Histories.
Case 1. 20 y.o. Pure Arabian mare in foal.
Notice "Big Head" from lack of calcium.
3 months later.
Case 2. Pure Arabian filly 22 months old.
Exactly 10 days later.
3 months later
Case 3. Pure Arabian mare.
This 4 y.o. mare was so weak that she lay down most of the day. She had never received
good nutrition. Although hard to see in photos, her coat was very sparse and all her hair
stood up on end. She had many patches of missing hair.
6 weeks later.
Case 4. Yearling cremello filly.
8 weeks later.
Case 5. 22 y.o. Mare.
Look closely at the hip bones on this horse.
The below is ten days later.
Case 6. Stallion.
This is an Arabian stallion, and you can see the effects of Big Head if you look closely at
his head.
Case 7. The following is the worst rescue case I have ever had. These images are
distressing, but bear in mind that this horse is now fat and well. I will be publishing this
horse's story. Watch for it! "Sera," a pure Arabian mare, was left to die after a fence
injury to the back leg. As the leg was not treated properly, she developed a massive
infection leading to supporting leg laminitis in the other hind leg. The coffin bone / pedal
bone rotated and protruded through the sole. She thus had a gaping hole in her foot. She
was also covered in enormous ulcerated bedsores as she had been lying down for three
weeks in the perpetrator's back yard.
However, she is now well and fat. This just shows that a horse can be brought back from
the brink of death.
Below. Day of rescue. August 31, 2011.
Below. Note that the offside hoof is perpendicular to the ground. The other foot was
badly laminitic - supporting leg lameness from the massive infection caused by the injury
to the offside foot which was not properly cared for. After rescue, this mare was treated
very frequently by rehabilitation trimmer Rob Howden of Balanced Equine Hoofcare. I
also had her on Jiaogulan. Her feet are now normal and she is happily galloping around
her paddock with her friends.
Following: 6 weeks after rescue - after 6 weeks of intensive nursing. This horse had been
at death's door and covered in enormous ulcerated bedsores with her actual hipbones
protruding through the open wounds. The nearside exposed hipbone had a necrotic edge
and veterinary surgeons feared that she would develop osteomyelitis and that bone
scraping surgeries would be unsuccessful. Thankfully, she did not need surgeries.
Below. January 17, 2012. The offside hip bedsore has healed and new hair is growing
through the now-healed black skin which is visible. (Arabians have black skin.)
Chapter 7. In Summary.
Worm with Equest Plus Tape or Panacur 100 (or WSD Fenbendazole) at the correct
dosage rate mentioned in this book.
Repeat 2 weeks later.
Then repeat 2 weeks later.
***CAUTION - go back and read notes if horse is under 15 months of age.
Then go onto the normal worming program as set out in my book What to Worm
Your Horse With, Made Easy.
Do NOT increase the feed quickly.
Do NOT change the feed suddenly.
Build up to free choice grass and/or free choice hay.
If the horse is not cleaning up the feed, syringe supplements over the tongue.
DO clean out feed bins after every meal to get rid of bacteria.
Get a good hoof care practitioner to attend to the feet.
Notify the local Animal Welfare body that you have rescued the horse.
Contact your veterinarian.
Ignore the local "Horse Expert" and most of the stuff on the net.
Review request.
If you found this book useful, I'd be very grateful if you would leave a positive
review at your place of purchase. Your support really does make a difference.
Be notified of up coming releases.
Join my rescue charity Facebook group to enter competitions and win books, and be
notified of upcoming releases.
See also:
You may like other books by Dr. A. Nyland!
Dr. Nyland is also the author of:
What to Worm Your Horse With, Made Easy.
What others are saying about What to Worm Your Horse With, Made Easy.
This one will save your horse's life.
Of all the equine related books available on every possible subject, as far as I am
concerned, none are more important than one that will save your horse's life. All
supported by scientific research and end notes. So many equine books are nothing but
someone's opinion, not supported by research or facts. This one is! Worms kill horses and
the traditional means of deworming is not working. She talks about all the myths with
deworming.... using quest with foals and horses, when to deworm depending on your
climate and location, the myth about fecal counts being a good way to know whether
horses have worms (wrong!), the myth about copper and many of the natural/herbal
dewormers that not only don't work but some are toxic, rotation makes worms immune to
the dewormers. Horses still die and they have been on regular schedules of dewormer....
you know the vet always asks, 'has this horse been wormed recently?' The answer is
always yes by good horse owners and they had zero worm count in fecals, the horse dies
and the autopsy's shows the horse is full of worms.
If you have a horse, if you are thinking of getting a horse, then you need to read this
book and get smart on this killer. Horses are dying right now as we speak because of
ignorance and because horse owners are listening to ill advised people on how to deworm
their horse. The horses suffer because of our ignorance. Pick up this book and read it for
your horse, you'll be amazed what you will learn. I'll be changing the way I deworm as of
right now.
(Celeita Kramer Owner, Crossed Sabers Stable
President/Executive Director, The Mountain State Horse School and Second Wind
Adoption Program, Inc.)
"Most Important Horse book ever
If there is only ever one horse related book you ever buy or read, make sure it is
What to Worm Your Horse With, Made Easy by Dr. Ann Nyland.
I cannot believe my ignorance of the RIGHT way to approach worming horses. Ann
lays it out simply and easily.
Forget what you ever thought you knew about rotational worming and read this
I was seriously shocked by how wrong I had it all and I consider myself reasonably
well educated and informed on horse health issues.
Learning about the terrible dangers of encysted small strongyles in otherwise healthy
looking horses was quite frightening.
(Jen Green - Flying Circus Endurance Stables - Australia)
Today, the problem worm is the small strongyle yet the vast majority of advice given
today for worming horses is still aimed at the old regimens suited for eradicating the
large strongyle. Rotation is no longer advocated by equine parasitologists. The book cuts
through the claims about worming products, both chemical and natural / herbal, and
presents the scientific evidence. When to worm, resistance, rotational wormings,
harrowing, are all covered in this book. A clear easy-to-understand guide to horse and
donkey worms and wormers. Although written in easy language for the layperson, the
book is heavily referenced to scientific academic journals.
Natural Horse Care The Right Way
If you own a horse, this book is a must for you! Natural Horse Care The Right Way
exposes the myths and the incorrect information out there about certain herbs, minerals
and natural practices, that can be, and have proven to be, unhealthy and even dangerous
for horses. Natural Horse Care The Right Way also supplies evidence for the usefulness
of some natural minerals and herbs, and discusses the benefits of having our horses
barefoot, bitless and treeless. While herself an advocate for natural, Dr. Nyland believes
we need to be informed about certain products and methods so we can make informed
decisions about the care of our horses.
Xenophon: Art of Horsemanship: Xenophon and Other Classical Writers
This is a new (2010) easy-to-read translation by ancient Greek language scholar and
horsewoman Dr. A. Nyland and is NOT one of the many century-old public domain
translations NOR is it a reworded public domain version. Great advances which have
been made in ancient Greek word meaning in the last twenty years were unknown to the
translators of the public domain versions of the late nineteenth and early twentieth
centuries. Despite the current trend for non-translators to reproduce public domain
versions as a commercial venture, be aware that such public domain versions do not take
advantage of recent scholarship in word meaning.
Xenophon was an ancient Greek soldier who lived from around 430-354 BC. His
"Art of Horsemanship" is his work on selecting and educating horses. It was not the first
work of its kind, an earlier being that by Simon of Athens. This book also includes
excerpts by other ancient writers on horses and two of Xenophon's other works
mentioning horsemanship..
The Kikkuli Method of Horse Training
A 3000 year old fitness program for horses offers modern trainers the opportunity to
improve horses' fitness while keeping them sound and happy. The program was named
after its creator, the Mitannian Master Horse Trainer Kikkuli, whose horse conditioning
techniques helped establish a military empire in around 1345 BC. By following the
instructions laid down in the Kikkuli Text, you will be able to produce a superb equine
athlete without the use of drugs or expensive feed additives. Dr. A. Nyland translated the
ancient Kikkuli Text, which was written on 4 clay tablets in Hittite cuneiform, into
English. In 1991, Dr. Nyland, then an academic of the University of New England in
Australia, as well as Arabian horse breeder and long time endurance competitor, put
Arabian horses through the entire program for the first time in 33 centuries. Her findings
have significant implications for racehorse, trotter, endurance, and eventer owners and
trainers. The results suggested that Kikkuli's methods achieve a standard of fitness in
mind and body in horses unmatched by modern techniques.