Belief System - After talking with veterinarians as well as owning and breeding horses for over 30 years as well as working alongside an Equine Iridologist who after looking at numerous horses eyes to see what might be going on - there are certainly things that come up with certainty like Leaky Gut Syndrome for one:
I believe that all grains are harmful to our horses especially the byproducts that are offered in them from the agriculture industry. Wheat middlings and sugar beet pulp have plant proteins called lectins in them. These plant proteins are causing inflammation of the gut wall leading to gut wall leaking these foreign proteins into the body. They do cause chronic protein loss (poor top line), obesity, or being underweight, lameness, joint pain, laminitis, skin disease, colic, an inability to sweat when hot and an assortment of other illnesses including insulin resistance and pituitary dysfunction (Cushing’s disease). Other issues may be seen such as the squirts with each defecation, unthriftiness and poor behavior including unwilling to be girthed, or to be brushed, or load on a trailer, general malaise, and bucking when asked to move faster than a walk.
The dilemma is in educating the general horse owner but we have been told that these general feeds are what we need to feed our horses and it's also convenient. Sounds like great marketing to me - if you go back to when cowboys feed their horses, did they carry big bags of feed around with huge unpronounceable words on the back with marketing slogans appealing to the hearts of the owners trying to do the best for their horses. Yet on each grain bag is a tag required by law sewn into the seam and the number one ingredient is most often wheat middlings, the byproduct of the wheat industry, and full of WGA which mimics insulin.
Have we ever questioned the preservatives added to the feed? They all need to have preservatives to prevent the food from becoming rancid. How about the bags lining - what chemicals are applied so that the oils from the grain mix doesn’t penetrate through the bag. All of these are going into our horses and are disrupting the delicate balance of the horse’s gut microbes which are altering their normal process of protecting the horse from illness causing lectins, as one veterinarian put it.
So asking the question: to feed commercial grain or not. There is proof about the specific damage caused by feeding grain to horses. I can tell you I have switched to a non-gmo feed such as CoolStance which is coconut meat which has been dried by the sun a few years back. But, just feeding forage with a good mineral like Equi-Pride nor another that you may like is really all they need. You will see the difference in their topline as well as hoofs, less issues as mentioned earlier in this article (no more leaky gut) and if you have a hot horse - they will be more relaxed. Less stressed - more pasture time is key if you are able vs. the stall. Stalled and competition horses have more issues. Overall - Healthier Horse!
You may want to start thinking about your own belief systems involved in the care of your horse. If what you're doing is working then there's no need to change. But if they are not working then why not give forage or a non-gmo feed a chance. Don't keep repeating the same process expecting a different result? If you want to change, then simply stop feeding all grain for a period of time and record all your observations and then evaluate them. Then when you are ready, add in a protein source that will replace the chronic protein deficiency your horse has been going through. In 6 to 12 months you will have a happier horse that will be healthier. Be accurate about your observations and honest when you see a more favorable outcome - Your horses will love you for it! Go back to basics - naturally.