The Amazing Equine Machine
The horse is an amazing biological system of metabolic processes that creates almost everything it needs to live, grow, heal and repair itself throughout its lifetime. A horse is a factory that is efficient at making everything it needs: tissues like bone, muscle, hair, skin, and hoof; substances like proteins and vitamins; even chemicals like insulin, adrenaline, dopamine and glucosamine. The list of the substances that are actually created within the horse’s body goes on and on. In fact, many of the most popular equine supplements on the market today are made up almost entirely of substances that the healthy horse produces all on its own. For the most part, a horse produces what it needs, when it needs it, for optimum health, but only when it has a consistent supply of the right raw materials.
Raw Materials are Critical
Just like a factory that makes hundreds of different products, the horse must have an ample supply of all the raw materials needed to make these products at all times. These raw materials include vitamins, minerals, amino acids, fats, protein, carbohydrates, fiber, water and other substances. If raw materials required for a certain process are not available when needed, then the horse will go without, and this is when a horse’s health suffers.
Sources of Raw Materials
A horse gets the raw materials it needs to sustain life and promote health through three main activities: breathing, drinking and eating. As horse owners, it is our job to make sure our horses get the nutrition they need. It’s why we feed them clean water and quality hay. The problem is that even the best hay rations are generally deficient in certain critical nutritional components that are required for a healthy horse. A complete supplement like Dr. Thornley’s™ Hay Balancer™ accounts for these deficiencies and should be fed to your horse at all times.
Too Much. Too Little. Just Right.
For fats, carbohydrates and proteins, we know when our horse is getting too much or too little feed by its general body condition. The rule of thumb is that a horse will consume about 65% of its body weight in feed every month, with some adjustments for the type of horse, time of year, quality of feed, etc. But what about vitamins, minerals, amino acids and prebiotics? Just because a horse is getting enough feed does not mean it is getting proper nutrition. And in the case of vitamins, minerals and amino acids, finding the “just right” amount is practically impossible. But that’s okay, and here is why . . .
Enough is Not Too Much
In addition to being an amazing machine that can use raw materials to produce what it needs, the horse’s body is an amazing filter that can eliminate nutrients that are not needed. These substances are eliminated through exhaled CO2, urine and feces. In only a very few cases are there substances that can become toxic to a horse if too much is consumed, and these are not substances that are included in supplements at any significant level. So we should make sure that our horse always has enough of the critical vitamins, minerals and amino acids that are the basis of optimal health. A horse will then take what it needs and eliminate or store the rest.
Horse supplements don't need to be complicated. Balance your horse's nutritional needs simply and effectively with Dr. Thornley's Hay Balancer™. Available online at haybalancer.com, valleyvet.com and bigdweb.com. Or have your local feed store call 801-506-6755 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to become a Hay Balancer™ dealer today!
In 1855, Robert Thornley immigrated to the United States and became one of the first veterinarians in what was the Utah Territory. Back then, vets got most of their training and experience on the farm. Doc Thornley was no different. He gained his animal husbandry skills as a young man in England, first as a farm hand and eventually as the "head cowman" for an entire herd of cows owned by one of the rich farmers near his home town. He brought this experience with him to his new home in the great American west and quickly became the town vet, where he was known for his common sense approach to animal care.
Today, Doc Thornley represents the common sense information and advice that we all need as horse owners. Not only is his legacy carried on by several of his descendants who are practicing equine vets today, but by many equine professionals around the world, including veterinarians, nutritionists, trainers, farriers, clinicians and others.
For this new column, we will provide advice, tips, solutions, best practices and answers to common questions for horses and their owners, focusing on common sense and simplicity. So watch each month for "Ask Doc Thornley". We hope he will inspire you to learn and grow in all aspects of responsible and enjoyable horse ownership.