Horses. The herd meanders into view, slowly rising over the hill’s crest, grazing the stretches of tall grass as they move.
The image would be familiar 10,000 years ago… or last week. Horses have evolved to spend their days journeying from tuft to tuft, spending as much as 17 hours a day chewing grass, broadleaf greens, roots, seed heads, branches and wild flora.
And then…humans stick them in dirt paddocks and stalls. The modern training, housing and feeding of equines hardly answers to the horses’ biological needs. Even the nearly monoculture type forage that hay and most domestic pastures contain rarely allow horses to forage for the variety of plants they naturally would add to their diet.
When horses are not allowed to dine on free-choice grasses and hay while meandering in fields, their health is compromised. Veterinarians “confirm that stall-confined horses undergoing intermittent feed deprivation have a significant increase in number and severity of health risks” – particularly in the development of ulcers.
A study from New Zealand showed the significant benefits to horses being allowed to graze a varied pasture rather than being reduced to hay or grain as their only choice. The benefits to the pasture-raised horses’ growth and health were compared to those raised in confinement and offered grain. The 2014 field study showed that the “ability to grow horses at pasture year round provides a number of developmental advantages … and the opportunity to utilize pasture as the primary source of nutrition may reduce exposure to some risk factors associated with OCD in young stock.”
For many horse keepers, pastures are a luxury.
When we couple a horse’s inability to graze with heavy grain or concentrate feedings, excessive time in stalls, and stressful training and traveling schedules, the horse often experiences digestive upset.
Whether if you are dealing with ulcers, or other serious issues like recurring colics, revising your horse’s lifestyle and feeding is crucial. Adding SeaBuck 7 Equine to the animal’s diet can help offset the negative aspects of hard training and limited turn-out on pastures.
An ancient surprise
Classical writings tell a curious tale! The ancient Greeks regularly fed sea buckthorn (Hippophae rhamnoides) to their horses after witnessing the shrub’s effects on the horses’ coats.
The sea buckthorn is named after the coat enhancing properties, and it’s botanical name, hippophae rhamnoides, translates into “shiny horse”. While Pegasus may have gained the ability to soar, our horses benefit from the same earthly health perks as those steeds from antiquity.
The sea buckthorn plant and fruit contains a storehouse of antioxidants, unique oils and a laundry list of phytonutrients which are often missing or lost in the hay curing process.
Seabuck 7 Fact: Sea buckthorn has been shown to be beneficial in supporting normal healthy digestion. SeaBuck is a sea buckthorn based all natural equine product for all breeds and classes of horses that supports healthy digestive function.
The berry and its seeds contain:
- Stomach/Digestive tract healing Palmitoleic Acid (Omega 7)
- Free radical fighting linoleic acid (34%) balanced with alpha linoleic acids (32%)
- Trace minerals
- Vitamin E
- 41 carotenoids including carotene (which gives the fruit its bright orange hue)
Even healthy and diverse pasture grasses do not supply this rich source of nutrition! The orange fruit is also renowned for its range of fatty acids – Omega 3, 6 and the rare omega 7.
One 2012 study confirmed what the ancient Greeks observed. Sea buckthorn really does provide protective and physiological benefits to horses. Eight thoroughbred and TH/cross horses were used to test the efficacy of the berry and pulp supplement. Those horses fed the sea buckthorn experienced a significant decrease in ulcers. The control and test horses were exposed to typical feeding practices for stall bound animals – which generally involves the lack of free-choice hay with heavy grain feedings.
The study mimicked the conditions of stall-kept animals by avoiding ulcer “preventative measures,” since, “increased pasture turnout, ad libitum hay feeding, reduced training levels, and stress reduction coupled with treatment, are not always possible or effective.” These are the husbandry practices that initiate ulcer formation.
Because horses are designed to take in a near constant stream of forages (grasses), their stomachs consistently produce acid. When grazing hays or grass is not available, the stomach acid is still produced on an empty stomach. The effects of grains exacerbate the digestive distress.
Horses allowed a “hay diet spend more time chewing and thus produce saliva that is rich in bicarbonate…[which] buffers stomach contents and may reduce acid exposure.”
Veterinarians explain that this buffering is not experienced with grain as “horses typically eat pelleted diets faster and because of smaller particle size, gastric emptying is shortened, leaving longer periods when the stomach is empty and the mucosa is exposed to acids. Diets with reduced amounts of hay have been shown to produce gastric ulcers.”
Dosing ulcer prone horses with prescription formulations has a limited use. The treatments (which are also quite costly) last for a period, but once the medication is stopped, the ulcers return.
Turning to human medicine, which had shown promising results using the sea buckthorn fruit to treat human ulcers, the researchers at the University of Louisiana decided to test the power of the sea buckthorn on the horses. The study also hoped to locate a “natural” remedy that did not have side effects. Stakes were high. The sea buckthorn would have to “significantly decrease spontaneously occurring and intermittent feed-deprivation induced nonglandular and glandular gastric ulcers in horses without altering gastric juice pH.”
Sea buckthorn “berries and pulp are rich in lipophilic and hydrophilic bioactive compounds such as vitamins C and E, carotenoids, flavonoids, fatty acids, plant sterols, lignans, and minerals,” which exhibited “… antioxidant and immunomodulary properties, which are important in mucosal healing.”
The horses in the study enjoyed a break from their stomach woes after the sea buckthorn formulations were fed. The researchers stated that the anti-oxidants helped heal (glandular ulcers) and protected the horses from any recurring aggravation.
Your horse is asking to try Seabuck 7. They know you won’t say “neigh” at adding this to their feeding program!
As Don from Washington noticed …
“What a difference! I have a 5 yo quarter horse gelding. As a 4 yo he was losing weight, had a rough discolored coat and was a pacer. I finally took him to my vet who tubed and wormed him routinely. We placed him on some other products for 60 days. After 60 days, we put him on SeaBuck Complete and: What a difference! He gained weight and his coat is slick and shiny……. Thanks for the great product. I am using it on my other horses.”
Share your sea buckthorn adventures with us. Send on your comments and testimonials – we love to hear from you! Best wishes and shining steeds from your equine health partners at Seabuck 7.