Winter is over and spring is under way, bringing with it warmer days and
the prospect of more turnout time. The winter to spring transition is an
exciting time and important when it comes to nutrition; it’s time to take
stock and review concentrate requirements, depending on exercise and
body condition ready for the season ahead.
Just like ourselves shedding the winter jumpers after months of ‘lockdown overeating’, every horse is going to be different when they step out from under their winter rugs. You may find that your horse has lost some condition from decreased nutrient availability or due to inactivity, while others may have put on weight. Whether the plan is hacking or competing, we all want to get our horses back in tip-top shape as soon as possible.
So, where do we start? Transitioning from a winter diet containing large amounts of hard feed and mainly conserved forages, to a varied mix of hard feed, forage and the new rich green grasses will need to be monitored. This is because such changes to the diet may affect the microbiome and create an imbalance of bacteria within the gut due to nutritional and energy adjustments.
If you are starting to work your horse more to help shed some pounds or because of competition training, some extra support in the form of energy and targeted nutrition may be needed. Making the most of your feed is essential to maintaining topline and condition, and this is where optimising gut health and nutrient absorption is vital.
Maintaining a strong gastric barrier and gut health throughout life is vital for overall health and wellbeing. The gut contains billions of microbes (bacteria, fungi and protozoa), which collectively create the microbiome and perform important tasks such as enabling nutrient utilisation and the breakdown of food.
A happy gut is all down to the optimal balance of good and bad bacteria (that is, eubiosis) — establishing the right balance supports efficient nutrient utilisation. Conversely, if the balance is off, this can lead to digestive issues including excessive gas production, poor nutrient utilisation and absorption, consequently leading to nutritional deficiencies.
Prolonged imbalance in the gut can seriously affect health if not managed. Carefully formulated diets and specialist supplements can help maintain intestinal eubiosis during seasonal nutrient changes, which is essential for long-term health and maintaining condition.
Phytogenic (plant-derived) supplements are proven to offer targeted additional support for specific issues and improve the bioavailability of other essential nutrients in the diet, such as vitamins and minerals, which are key to health and important for improving condition after winter. Phytogenics naturally contain numerous active compounds, supporting metabolic and physiological functions. Oregano essential oil (OEO) is a powerful phytogenic, supporting equine, livestock and human health.
Anpario’s Orego-Stim Equine 100% natural OEO supplement is specifically formulated to add directly to feed, helping to optimise gut health and in turn support overall health and wellbeing. Containing more than 100 active compounds to provide antimicrobial, antibacterial, antioxidant and antiinflammatory support, it is a great all-in-one supplement for your horse. Produced from our own unique strain of oregano plant, our OEO is extracted through steam distillation, which protects the active compounds and ensures the same high-quality product in every bottle.
Omega-3 supplementation is also important this time of year. With rugs coming off and the summer coat coming through, we can evaluate our horses’ skin and coat condition. Ensuring adequate levels of oil and Omega-3 in the diet is key to maintaining a healthy shine and coat condition, especially through the moulting process.
When choosing an Omega-3 supplement it is important to consider the source, as some require conversion before they can be used by horses. Omega-3 fatty acids can be found in flaxseed/linseed and other plant derived ingredients in the form of alpha-linolenic Acid (ALA). However, these require energy to be converted into the more readily available forms of Omega-3: eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) before it can be used by the horse.
Fish-oil Omega-3 supplements are naturally rich in EPA and DHA, ensuring rapid availability from the diet.
Anpario Direct’s Optomega Liquid SH provides a natural Omega-3 supplement made from 100% sustainable fish oil, providing the EPA and DHA levels needed to help balance most diets and provide rich Omega-3 support. It is available in 1L and 5L bottles