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Discussion Starter · #2,661 ·
Hadn't ridden in a while, for a variety of reasons. Took Bandit out today. First half of the ride he was on pins and needles. Just acting very nervous. When we entered the wash, he balked. Did NOT want to move forward. We did some figure 8s. Nothing. Then as I stared where he was worried, I saw movement. A very large snake under some dead branches at the side of the wash, about 100 feet away. My guess was a Common Kingsnake:
Possibly a rattler, but I think it was genuinely very dark and not just that way from shade. Still, I'm in favor of a horse saying, "Large snake ahead! That is soooo not me!" So I turned him and insisted we WALK back, out of the wash. We detoured around and he was still nervous when I wanted to descend back into the wash. It was a steep spot with lots of rocks, so I dismounted and led him. First time I've done that in ages. Once we were in the wash, I turned him to see the spot where the snake had been, now "behind us". Then got back on and kept him at a walk. We got to where he'd need to cross a newly resurfaced road. He had no issues, so I turned him home. We normally run that section of trail, but I kept patting his neck and telling him to keep it easy and we walked the entire way back.

Good news? By the last 25% of our ride, he was mellow. We rode home on pavement. Unlike going out, on the return he strolled, acting like he didn't have a care in the world. End of ride, he was sweaty. Even his chest was wet with sweat and we had done almost no speed work and it was in the low 80s, sunny but with a pleasant breeze. Think the sweat was nerves.

But we lived, he was relaxed by the end, and I think tomorrow will go better. A ride doesn't need to go smooth and easy for it to be a good ride, overall.
 

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I know I’ve told this story before, but when I was young I decided to prove I could catch a rattlesnake. I eventually got it caught, and I tried to step onto my mare when that snake rattled. She was all, “oh heck no,” and I don’t know how I managed to stay on my feet as she tore my foot out of the stirrup and took a jump to the side. Dancing and prancing, I didn’t lose her, but I lost my grip on the snake. He reached around to bite me and I threw him.

Well, I threw him directly at the girl who was with me, who also was like, “oh heck no!,”and managed to get out of the way. So, I killed the snake and took him home to prove it (although I don’t know how a dead snake proved I’d caught him alive, but you can already see my reasoning wasn’t wonderful.).

I was in a lot of trouble. I wasn’t supposed to play with snakes anymore. I never held it against the mare; telling me no was the obvious smart decision. I think sometimes she rightfully wondered at my intelligence.
 

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Discussion Starter · #2,663 ·
Rode today with winds at 20G30. I generally avoid windy days but we have a LOT of them. Often worse than today. And I would ride a lot more if Bandit would learn it was no big deal. Tried it yesterday afternoon in my leather saddle and with Bandit wearing boots, but decided I wasn't as secure in that saddle and Bandit not as steady in boots so gave it up. Today, it was in the Abetta (with sheepskin) and Bandit was barefoot.

Bandit was...elevated. He kept moving but he wasn't a happy horse. At the halfway mark, we came upon a woman jogging down a street with a baby stroller. The trail forms a T intersection with the road and I had planned to turn back at the pavement. So we almost got there. We were in the desert 50 feet to one side of her. Bandit didn't lose his mind but he couldn't handle standing still. So we did figure 8s, back and forth, parallel to the woman, who stopped to adjust the stroller. And no, the woman had no idea we were there. 50 feet away, a horse dancing in figure 8s, me on top, nothing between us...and she had no idea. I tried shouting hello thinking her reply would let Bandit know she was human, but I guess the wind prevented her from hearing. How can you miss a horse and rider doing figure 8s parallel to you just 50 feet away?

She moved on and I turned him home. He decided to canter, which wasn't cool IMHO. He then did fifty yards of crow-hopping canter before I got him to slow. Yeah, I had one hand on the horn because I'm not a great rider and it is easier to stay on a crow-hopping canter that way. Got him slowed but not calm. Moved him off trail and trying to avoid cactus got his brain focused. On the whole, he seemed better on the second half.

Near the end, I dismounted to walk him thru the neighborhood since spooks on paved road are not my thing. He acted pretty calm, but then...a minute from the house, he leaped sideways with his eyes bulging out. And there was...nothing. Not that I could see. The wind was too strong to hear much. I called him stupid and his look suggested he thought of a sentence that had a word with M & F in it. A minute from home.

My rancher friend says a horse isn't truly broke until he's been ridden to exhaustion a few days in a row. Maybe 7-10 days in a row, enough to cause weight loss. 10-12 hours a day of hard work, grinding him down. And then, he says, a horse stops worrying and becomes truly broke. That will certainly never happen with me and Bandit, but I'd admit we could get past the wind thing really quick if riding him for 10 hours in it could happen. But it won't. Too much boredom for me and no water for him.
 

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Sounds like some wild times!

I would not be surprised if I was killed by a horse accident involving a baby stroller, LOL.
The problem is that so many horses think there is a devil baby inside.

Horses are so interesting. They'll be in their field with the winds blasting around them, and be fine. But take them two feet outside the fence, and suddenly those winds are portents of disaster. I think I understand logically...the wind impairs their senses of scent and sound, which means they know things could sneak up on them. It's still hard to be patient when they're spooking and hopping around. Mine have improved with lots of experience, because if you didn't take horses out in the wind around here you'd miss out on a lot of rides. But it's still more dangerous to ride on a windy day, regardless.

I think what your rancher friend says is true for horses of a certain persuasion. It helps horses to understand when you take them out they may be working very hard and need to conserve their energy. But it doesn't guarantee a horse will be broke forever. Meaning, I've ridden horses hard for several days in a row, and they end up thinking they need to focus hard on the work. Yes, Halla and Nala galloping in a strong wind off and on for several hours would be two focused and unlikely to spook mares. Take them out three days in a row and work them hard, and on day four they would be perfect angels. We used to find it remarkable.

But now give them two weeks off and ride them out in a strong wind again, and they'll be likely to be hot and spooky again. So I guess I've made horses broke/broke by riding them for several months straight, and then they've become "unbroke" again. Some horses learn lessons "for good," and some horses learn lessons temporarily I guess. IMHO.
 

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Discussion Starter · #2,666 ·
Intermittent fasting for horses?

Over my years of playing with my diet, I've become more of an "intermittent fasting" person than a keto person. I use keto-ish foods because it makes it easier for me to go 18-20 hours without eating and keeping my intake within a 6 hour window. Sometimes OMAD - One Meal A Day. There is good evidence it can reverse insulin resistance and in my own life...my weight has stalled around 155 but my belly fat is VERY gradually continuing to decline. Least now that I can ever remember although there is still ample there!

Lots of horse issues also involve insulin resistance. And while I was never pre-diabetic, intermittent fasting seems to cause slow but important changes in my body. So...what about horses?

"The capacity of the stomach of the horse is only about 8-15 litres (eight quarts or two gallons), which makes it difficult to understand how a horse can consume large amounts of food or water. The emptying time of the stomach after filling can be about 12 minutes, and the rate of passage down the small intestine is about 1 ft/min. The net result is that food can go from the mouth to the cecum in about 1½ hours. The small volume of the stomach and rapid passage of food from the stomach is the reason horses eat almost continuously, thus the name "hay burners." The rate of passage of pelleted or wafered hay is faster than for loose hay."


I've always read horses need to eat 20 hours a day because otherwise the acid in their stomach will cause ulcers. But I've also noticed my horses are doing fine even though they go 12-13 hours between evening and morning meals, and two of their three meals each day are now soaked pellets - which they eat in 30 minutes and which probably leave their stomach within an hour tops. I've also noticed sports horses seem to have more ulcers than trail horses (in the studies I've seen) and my suspicion is that horses find competition stressful. Also that sports horses kept in stalls and fed grain...well...how can that be right? So if one studies ulcers in race horses and high level dressage horses...is that applicable to my three laid-back geldings?

One analogy I like with humans is that, like most animals, we were designed (or evolved) to gain weight in summer and lose it in winter, but that now Americans live in a dietary perpetual summer. Which is true of our horses as well. Looking around the net, I found this speculation:

"In the annual life cycle, most animals take a break from eating sugar during winter. This allows for the cell to destroy all the parts within the cell that are no longer functioning as well as the debris of energy production (free radicals). This is called autophagy and apoptosis and is equivalent to spring cleaning of a house. Following this is the creation of fresh parts including new mitochondria for more efficient energy production in a pollution free environment. Additionally, the stress of not having an abundant source of food causes a stress on the cells called hormesis where the weak cells die and the stronger cells thrive. In the deep, dark recesses of the lining of the gut live an abundant supply of stem cells and special bacteria that during this fast supply a fresh supply of gut cells and copious amounts of protective mucous that lines the entire bowel. In humans it has been shown that 16 to 18 hours of not eating in a 24 hour period mimics this seasonal fasting and has abundant benefits. In horses we have always believed that food should be available 24/7. They have no gall bladder for storing bile and their stomach acid is said to be secreted constantly. We all seem to live in fear of gastric ulcers caused by acid overfilling the stomach. Yet in the wild horses don’t have access to last year’s summer grass (hay) throughout the winter. It is my belief that carbohydrate dependency is at the root of many problems in our horses. Working horses for years went without food for 8 or more hours as they carried people across the country or plowed the field. When they did eat the sugars went to restoring the glycogen used in carrying their loads across the land. I believe that intermittent fasting should be researched and implemented in horses with equine metabolic syndrome and insulin resistance rather than starving or muzzling the horse which raises cortisol."


It arguably is not natural for horses to eat continuously 12 months of a year. Winter, drought, etc means horses WOULD literally starve sometimes - for days or even for weeks. Same as humans. Unlike the quote above, I don't think it involves carbohydrate dependency. Certainly not in grass hay type horses! But does the "horses need to graze 24/7" approach set up some horses (just like SOME humans) for insulin resistance? And is it TRUE that horses suffer from having their stomachs empty for a few hours (or much more) a day? I read online that it is horrible to leave a horse without food for even 4 hours...but that seems unsupportable given how wild horses need to live during winter or drought.

I'm not changing what I'm doing (for me AND my horses) because it is working. If 12-13 hours without food in their bellies hurts them, they are hiding it well. But has anyone even considered horses and periodic fasting - either for hours or, as some advocate with humans, for a day a week? Has anyone seen any studies or had horses who went for a time effectively fasting?

BTW - most of Trooper's colic issues seem to be rooted in 1) dry pellets irritating his throat and 2) a biotin hoof supplement I bought in an attempt to help the perpetual crack in his front left hoof. The supplement doesn't bother Bandit or Cowboy but Trooper cannot tolerate it. Even 1/4 oz means he'll colic in 12 hours.
 

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That is all very interesting. Something that comes to mind with the biotin is that it's a B vitamin, and those are produced by gut bacteria. B vitamins are known to have a side effect of stomach upset in some humans. A healthy gut is supposed to be able to produce enough B vitamins on its own. I've always guessed that horses that have their hooves improved by biotin have an issue with their intestinal health. For example, Hero's hooves improved with biotin when I first got him, and he also bit at his girth so I suspected he had ulcers and treated him. Quite possibly Trooper already makes enough biotin, and with a supplement he's getting more than he can tolerate?

I would think this subject could make an interesting thread, if you were inclined to repost it.

What I've found is that when the only barn situations I could find involved my horses being in at night for 12 hours and going without food for a few hours, I did not have issues with colic and did not suspect the horses had ulcers. I've come to believe in recent years that a big reason sports horses have ulcers is because they do something horses never do in nature, which is sustained exercise on an empty stomach. I wonder how that lines up with horses that worked all day in the past. Did they stop to give feeding breaks when horses were working?

But most horses that I've known with ulcers were being fed grain and/or had recently had a major diet change or been through a stressful situation.

Over the years, I've been in a few barns that fed horses only twice a day, even if the horses were kept in stalls for a few days at a time. I can count the cases of colic I heard of in those situations on one hand. Of those cases, I know at least two were torsion colics where the horse rolled in turnout and the intestines got twisted. After I moved to barns where horses were turned out and had grazing 24/7, horses seemed to have colic as frequently.

Something I've also wondered is why people prioritize the risk of ulcers as a higher concern over the risk of laminitis. I've known many horses with ulcers and it was not a life threatening or long term health threatening problem. Most horses I've known that had laminitis at least had their hoof health compromised for many months, even with full recovery after. That was best case scenario. Worst case means permanent crippling or death. Yet I feel like it is preached to never let a horse go without food to the point where people have these obese horses and they're afraid to take away any food.

I know several horses that hobble around and I'm sure their gut health is fantastic because their owners believe feeding "low quality" hay along with pasture is important. Are you surprised that both of these horses have had issues with chronic laminitis?


 

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We feed once a day, usually at night, depending on our work schedule, because during summer when they are not working early we move to morning feedings because of the wind. The hay seems to last for about 12-14 hours, and they do not eat in between. The horses are healthy, not too fat, and almost no issues of colic.

I do believe Lucy has been trying to sluff her colt, and not colicking. Without working I think she will be fine. I had one horse colick, the General, at one point, and Charlie colicked once and Beamer once. This is very few episodes of colic in the amount of time we have owned horses.

Dad had one who would colic often after work, and trot himself around until he felt better.
 

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Discussion Starter · #2,669 ·
"Gastric, or stomach, ulcers are sores that form on the stomach lining. They are common in horses, with the prevalence estimated between 50 and 90%. They can affect any horse at any age but occur most frequently in horses that perform athletic activities such as racing, endurance, and showing. Researchers have found that exercise increases gastric acid production and decreases blood flow to the GI tract....

In a natural, high-roughage diet, the acid is buffered by both feed and saliva. When horses are fed two times per day, which is common in many boarding situations, the stomach is subjected to a prolonged period without feed to neutralize the acid. In addition, high-grain diets produce volatile fatty acids that can also contribute to the development of ulcers. Physical and environmental stressors such as transport stress and stall confinement are additional risk factors...

The majority of horses with gastric ulcers do not show outward clinical signs and can appear completely healthy.
"


"In another study, horses fed alfalfa hay had significantly less acidity and lower gastric ulcer scores, than horses fed bromegrass hay. High protein (21 percent) and calcium concentration in alfalfa hay provides buffering of stomach acid up to five hours after feeding....In adult horses, the prevalence of gastric ulcers is high in the performance horse and may be due to prolonged exposure of acid to the squamous mucosa. The mechanical aspects of exercise and the abdominal pressure may be sufficient to provide prolonged exposure of the non-glandular mucosa to aggressive factors. Furthermore, especially in racehorses that perform at near maximal levels, exercise may have an inhibitory effect on gastric emptying...Since performance horses are fed diets that are high in fermentable carbohydrates, VFAs, generated by resident bacteria, may cause acid injury and ulceration in the squamous mucosa."


"The overall prevalence of EGUS in the wild equids was found to be 64%, with Grant’s zebras and Hartmann’s mountain zebra having the highest incidence at 83% and 100% respectively. The Hartmann’s zebras were stalled every evening out of social herd contact, which is a departure from the typical living arrangement of wild equids (i.e., outside full-time and within a herd).

The highest incidence of EGUS was observed in equids living in the smaller containment enclosures, especially those less than 75 square meters. There was no association between digestive tract disease and EGUS.
"


I recently came across the statistic that 98% of Americans were deficient in potassium, although usually without symptoms. Hmmmm...if 98% of a population isn't eating enough of X, and they have no symptoms, why would someone believe that X amount of something is needed?

Could it be that horses simply accept getting low grade ulcers as simpler than having a mechanism for turning acid production of and on? It obviously isn't something they choose, but could selection (or God) have picked horses who can't turn off acid production because the consequences ("The majority of horses...do not show outward clinical signs") are insignificant?

I've long since concluded a lot of riding theory is based on artificial human myths because when I try them with my own horses (and own body), they don't work. My delving into Keto & Intermittent Fasting has convinced me government guidelines approved by "experts" are largely responsible for my DECADES of yo-yo and ineffective diets, and that the epidemic of obesity - killing people every day - is rooted in widely accepted and government endorsed - but completely faulty - dieting advice.

This is from an article on Total Cholesterol and mortality (Total cholesterol and all-cause mortality by sex and age: a prospective cohort study among 12.8 million adults - Scientific Reports). Notice where the sweet spot is - from roughly 200-250. Yet my wife and I have both had doctors tell us to consider statins because our total cholesterol was over 190! Yes, reducing total cholesterol below 200 is ASSOCIATED with fewer strokes, but also with higher rates of cancer. So just why would I consider taking a medicine with a lot of bad side effects to get my TC even lower than 195? Are deaths from cancer preferable to deaths from heart attacks or stroke? BTW, my wife took the statins for a month. Then she quit due to pain in her shoulder that took a year to go away. A doctor would have to tie her down to get her to take a statin again!

This article indicates insulin resistance in horses functions much like it does in humans. Insulin tends to STORE fat. And then you want to eat more because the insulin-stored fat is very hard to access. You can't get to it merely because you need some. It takes more drastic measures to first restore sensitivity to insulin.


This is a video on humans and I think it describes what I've experienced during the last 3+ years very well:


A lot of folks are concluding Type 2 diabetes and insulin resistance in humans is a curable disease. I eat far less now than I did 5 years ago because A) I know a hunger pang is trivial, and B) I don't feel hunger pangs like I used to. What I'm doing now isn't so much a "diet" as it is eating less because I don't want to eat more!

Could IR resistance in horses be handled by some form of intermittent fasting? Probably not "fasting" so much as periods of time with very reduced low sugar feed - such as horses pawing for dried grass below the snow would get. Humans seem to get much of the benefit from going just 16+ hours without food - imagine that, not eating for an entire 16+ hours?! How many humans in the 1800s were always able to eat 3+ meals a day?

I don't know about how it would affect horses, but it seems like a fertile area for research! And yeah, I no longer feel guilty about my horses going 12-13 hours a day without food in their tummies. They're showing no signs of trouble and the three of them have a low stress life.
 

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Discussion Starter · #2,670 ·
Couple of old photos. Downloaded them from this news article:
Cropped them so my photo program could adjust the color and bring out more detail. From sometime in the 1870s in Texas:
That was the standard posed riding position. Not sure if it was also used in riding all the time or not.
Liked the kids, particularly the one sitting backwards!
 

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@bsms you should join the EICR forum for horses with PPID and IR. Although intermittent fasting is not recommeded for horses (this is not how their GI tract works) they absolutely advocate for very small low sugar meals throughout the day or a very slow feeder so the horse does have to paw and work for what they eat. Horses are meant to be grazers and many people associate this with large mouthfuls of lush grass when in reality it is small nibbles of coarse forage a few steps and more nibbles. I have an IR horse and she is monitored closely. She gets no grains at all and is eating out a very small holed slow feeder. She can nibble to her hearts content. She has lost weight, gained energy seems very content and is not grabby when her nets are refilled. Humans have programmed horses to eat large meals and leave them sit for hours and its not natural or healthy
 

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Discussion Starter · #2,672 ·
Intermittent fasting can take two forms. One is what some now prefer to call "time restricted eating", referring to eating your meals inside a short window. That is what I do, trying to do my eating between noon and 6 pm. The other way is to skip eating for a day, maybe once or twice a week. I don't do that myself. But with a horse....I assume they are like deer. In the summer, deer eat a lot and gain weight. In the winter, there isn't enough food so they lose weight. I know in Utah, a deer in the spring is often bony from the weight loss. Or die from starvation during the winter!

If horses evolved like deer, then maybe they sometimes need a "winter" of not enough food causing genuine weight loss. Or, like deer, maybe they need days where there isn't much of anything to eat. Maybe that would reset their insulin.

And just like some people never develop insulin resistance, some horses (my horses or my sister!) do not. Those horses/people would not benefit from any kind of fasting.

Gary Taubes argues that with humans, insulin and a few other hormones drives our eating. We aren't fat because we eat too much, but we eat too much because our hormones drive us to. Low carb and fasting are a way of resetting our insulin production (over time, maybe over several years) so that we won't WANT to eat as much. In a sense, he argues we aren't fat because we eat too much, but eat too much because we are fat!

That meshes with my experience. I probably now eat half the calories I was eating 3-4 years ago - and that is fine! I don't want to eat much more. Well, maybe a little...and that will be something for me to deal with the rest of my life. But mostly I'm happy eating far less.

I don't see how that is different with horses. The big problem with the modern American diet is that it is always summer, never winter. And we can do that with our horses as well, and many horses can handle it. But maybe some horses are like me and cannot, and then their hormones drive them to overeat.

they absolutely advocate for very small low sugar meals throughout the day
That is what the American Diabetes Association recommends. I saw this video recently and it is part of what got me thinking about recommendations for horses too:
 

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Discussion Starter · #2,673 ·
BTW, I am NOT trying to tell anyone who has an IR horse how to manage their horse! I don't have the issue (with horses) and I have a dry lot corral and no pasture. So a very different situation for me. But I think vets are a bit like doctors and fail to appreciate just how much eating habits can affect things we assume are unrelated.

Doctors seem to think about drugs and surgery first and assume dieting won't work anyways. And dieting DIDN'T work for me when I dieted following US government advice. And advice from places like the Mayo Clinic or other "reputable" dieticians. My son is overweight and IR and following the diet advice he gets from the VA - which is the same sort of advice that failed me for decades. It is failing him now but he trusts them because "they are doctors" - and I'm only a guy who, after 50+ years of struggling with weight, finally found something that worked!
 

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Discussion Starter · #2,674 · (Edited)
A little off topic, but here is another bit of eating advice that has worked well for me the last couple of months. Obviously NOT applicable to horses! But it is hard to go low carb AND keep up a "good" fiber intake so I used supplements. Looking into it, though, the evidence seemed....questionable...so I tried going with my almost no fiber keto diet and...it works. Better than it "worked" for me before. After all, as one person put it, if insoluble fiber is essential, WHY DOES OUR BODY FLUSH IT ALL OUT? Again, calling into question normally accepted truths:
 

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Discussion Starter · #2,676 ·
My wife's variation on Keto is that she'll eat her fruit and veggies in one meal a day. Her second meal is usually no-carb and small. That should be enough, I think, to improve the body's insulin sensitivity. In any case, she's losing about 3 lbs a month and is happy to live that way.
 

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I do think that even though horses' digestive systems are made for trickle feeding, they also tolerate and perhaps even benefit from periods of plenty and scarcity.

Obviously when there is drought or heavy snow or stormy weather, horses go without food or hunker down for many hours. In a fertile summer they also happen upon lush meadows and gorge for a while.
 
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