You asked, we answered! In this episode of our monthly series, Ask the Vet, Dr. Lydia Gray and SmartPaker Dan answer viewer questions about club foot in …

DAN: Hi, SmartPak fans.
I'm SmartPaker Dan.
She's Dr. Lydia Gray,
SmartPak Staff Veterinarian
and Medical Director.
And we are here to answer your
horse health questions asked
and voted on by you.
Now we've got a ton of great
questions for this month.
DR LYDIA GRAY: We did, yeah.
DAN: I know there's a couple
that we were rooting for.
DR LYDIA GRAY: Yeah.
Some made it and some didn't.
DAN: I know.
But unfortunately, we
can only answer five.
But just because it
wasn't asked this month
doesn't mean you can't
ask it again next month.
DR LYDIA GRAY: Right.
DAN: I would recommend, though,
asking your barn mates, family,
friends, the person who serves
you coffee in the morning
to vote for your video.
Exactly.
To vote for your question
when the poll gets asked.
But speaking of
great questions, do
you remember Jessica
from last month, who
asked a question about the
white spots on her sorrel horse?
DR LYDIA GRAY: Yes,
the Birdcatcher spots.
DAN: Yes, exactly.
So she actually sent us
a photo of her horse–
DR LYDIA GRAY: That's so sweet.
DAN: –I know, after she
submitted the question.
So just to let all of you
know that if you actually
have a photo of the
question you want to ask,
we would love to see it.
DR LYDIA GRAY: That
would be awesome, yeah.
DAN: And we can't
make promises, but we
might be able to include your
horse's photo in the video.
DR LYDIA GRAY: What?
DAN: [LAUGHS] They can be
just as famous as Newman.
DR LYDIA GRAY: Oh, my goodness.
[LAUGHTER]
DAN: So make sure
you get on those
and ask your questions
right away for us.
DR LYDIA GRAY: Cool.
DAN: On to our questions
for this month.
DR LYDIA GRAY: You got it.
DAN: So question number 1
was asked by sophiagianforti
on Instagram.
And Sophia wants
to know, "How can I
tell if my girth or saddle
is causing discomfort
to my horse?"
DR LYDIA GRAY: Well, you are
fortunate because I recently
attended the 2018 NEAEP,
which stands for Northeast
Association of
Equine Practitioners,
and Dr. Sue Dyson,
who's from the UK,
she's a world-renowned
sports medicine veterinarian
and saddle fitting
expert gave not only
a lecture but a wet lab, so
a hands-on demonstration.
And we got to participate
and feel things.
She had us run through
looking at a saddle
and checking the symmetry
of the panels underneath.
We checked the
points of the tree.
We put the saddle
on and then felt
underneath the
panel, all the way
from the withers to the back
to make sure there was even
pressure, no bridging.
We measured the length
of the saddle with T18,
or the last rib.
Yeah, precise, yeah–
DAN: Yeah, you guys really–
DR LYDIA GRAY: We looked
how the billets hang,
they should hang vertical
and not with a forward lean
or a backward lean.
And then the gullet,
which is the open space
on the top of the saddle,
where the saddle fits
on the horse's back, that should
be about four fingers wide.
And they were four
man fingers wide.
DAN: [LAUGHS]
DR LYDIA GRAY: Yeah.
DAN: So you would
slide your fingers
four fingers underneath.
DR LYDIA GRAY:
Well, you can just
look at the saddle,
put it on your legs.
And then if you can put four
fingers between the two panels
in the gullet, then it's wide.
But some of them
are very narrow,
and those lay on the
spine of the horse.
And so those would
not be appropriate.
Those would cause
problems right away.
But she had a great quote.
She said, "It's
not rocket science.
If your fingers get
jammed, it's too tight."
And we're like, Oh, great.
So some red flags for
pressure points in the saddle,
or signs of an ill-fitting
saddle, which is what she asked
is abnormal hair wear,
areas where the hair
coat becomes wavy or ruffled.
Like after you ride,
you take it off,
and the hair has been
rubbed sort of sideways
or forward, that means
the saddle is moving.
So that's a sign.
Dry spots within
the sweaty spot.
So if you look where
the sweat pattern is
on the horse, and
then all of a sudden,
there's a little
area of dry, that
indicates that there's localized
pressure that's heavy enough
to press hard enough to keep
the follicles from sweating.
So that's a focal point.
There can even be focal
swellings under the saddle.
So when you take the
saddle off, there
could be an area that's
raised and elevated
and edematous because the
saddle didn't fit right.
DAN: Are there certain areas
you should be looking more
concerned about to see them?
DR LYDIA GRAY: Not really.
I mean, anywhere the saddle
contacts the horse's back,
you should be observing
for these things.
Now there's also signs,
like behavioral signs
and performance signs.
She's doing some– there's a
paper out about every year.
And I've got some titles of
some that are really good,
and we'll show those at the end.
But she's created what's
called an ethogram.
An ethogram is a list or a
table of behaviors or activities
that horses or animals,
in this cases, horses,
do to demonstrate, in
this case, lameness.
But some of them, she is
beginning to tie specifically
to saddle fit.
Now I'm just going
to read them all.
And again, right now, it's
not saddle fit, specifically.
But it's musculoskeletal
lameness.
But it's ears back for more
than five seconds, mouth opening
for more than 10
seconds, tongue out,
change in eye posture
and expression.
She calls it an
intense stare, just
looking at one thing and not–
DAN: Just blankly.
DR LYDIA GRAY:
–like a soft eye.
You know when you're like–
people have done that.
OK.
Going above the bit, head
tossing, head tilting,
unwillingness just to
go forward, crookedness,
hurrying, changing or
breaking gaits spontaneously,
poor quality canter.
So this could be crooked,
changing– like swapping leads,
breaking, also resisting and
stumbling, and toe dragging.
DAN: OK, so these
aren't all just related
to saddle fit, but–
DR LYDIA GRAY: They're lameness.
They're signs of pain.
Some of them, she's
beginning to say,
when I take away the pain–
like they block a horse during
a lameness exam–
and some of these go
away and some remain.
The ones that remain tend to
be associated with saddle fit.
DAN: Interesting,
because I noticed
as you were reading
some of those,
I was like– there's
a couple of horses
who just popped into my brain.
I'm sure for most
of you at home too.
DR LYDIA GRAY: Yeah.
So in our wet lab, we got
to put a saddle on a horse,
assess the fit with the
points I told you earlier.
And then we watched
the horse go.
And we would look at the length
of stride and how comfortable
the horse was and how
much he gooses back,
and if he rounded
and went on the bit.
And then we would
change the saddle
and see how differently
the horse moved.
And so just in the difference
of a saddle– same rider,
same bit, same footing–
the horse went
markedly different
just because of the saddle
fit, because it gave them
more freedom of shoulder
movement, let's say.
DAN: Yeah, so if the
saddle is like staying
too tight on the withers or
compressing the shoulder too
much, it's going to
impact how much they can–
DR LYDIA GRAY: Or
it's rocking or it's
slipping from side to side.
Or you can look at
where the rider sits.
And the saddle can be leaned
back or leaned forward.
It should be level.
So all those kinds
of things affect.
She also made a
point of saying–
and that's why we have these–
that the girth is very important
too, as is the saddle pad.
So her warning
about the saddle pad
is make sure that
when you saddle up,
pull that pad up in the
gullet of the pommel.
DAN: So it's not pressing down.
DR LYDIA GRAY:
Exactly, because she
said the pad itself,
just material, can
cause enough pressure on the
withers to make the horse sore.
DAN: Just that thin little pad?
DR LYDIA GRAY: Yep, yep.
And then as far as
girths, so this one
is the Prestige Anatomic.
Like if the horse was towards
you, and the back end was here,
this is the front.
And it provides a little
shoulder and elbow relief.
And those are the two–
those are the areas that
horses need some relief in.
So this is a popular girth.
And then she also made
a point of saying,
if you get a girth
with elastic, make
sure it has elastic on
both ends like this one,
because if you have a girth
with elastic just on one end,
you can imagine that
it pulls differently.
DAN: It's going
to have more pull
on one side versus another.
DR LYDIA GRAY: Yeah.
So if you're going
to have elastic,
it's got to be equal to
equilibrate those forces.
So it was a very
interesting wet lab.
DAN: And we're seeing a lot
more of these ergonomic designs
in a lot of tack now.
There's the one with
girths, and of course, also
now the bridles and
things like that,
to provide more comfort
and movement for horses.
DR LYDIA GRAY: And
the thing with them
is, just because it's
labeled ergonomic
or it says it's designed
to do something,
it may not do that
in your horse.
So you have to read
your horse's ethogram.
DAN: [LAUGHS]
DR LYDIA GRAY: And if
you put a girth on,
and you have ears back, and
he won't go, and he's crooked,
and he's hurrying, he's
rushing, maybe that's
not the girth for your horse.
Try a different girth.
And then your horse
will tell you,
ah, I like that girth better.
And it might not be
an anatomic girth.
It might be a
regular just girth,
but he likes that better.
So then you just got
to do what he likes.
DAN: It's been my experience
that the more expensive it is,
the more my horse likes it.
[LAUGHTER]
DR LYDIA GRAY: That's true.
DAN: But I will say,
saddle fitting obviously
can be super challenging to
try and find the right fit.
We do have our Test Ride
program here at SmartPak.
So you can always have a
saddle, have it sent out.
You can ride it like you
would your normal saddle,
have your vet, farrier,
trainer look at it
to make sure it's a good fit.
And then if it works
or it doesn't work,
you can send it
right back to us.
DR LYDIA GRAY: The other
thing she pointed out
was, if you have a saddle
that can be flocked, then–
I assumed– I had a saddle from
Custom Saddlery the Wolfgang
Solo that we sell.
OK and it was fitted to Newman.
I'm like, great, it's all done.
And she said, no, no, horse's
backs change in a ride–
DAN: [LAUGHS]
DR LYDIA GRAY: –but
certainly seasonally.
So coming out of winner, they
might have lost some topline,
and they have a shape.
And so you need to get it
restuffed then or looked
at– at least looked at by
a competent saddle fitter.
And then after the
show season and you
have clinics and lessons,
you're going into winter
when their topline is probably
the biggest it's going
to be, it needs to be refitted.
And so she's like, have it
done at least twice a year,
if not four times.
And I went, oops, my
bad, because I didn't.
DAN: But that's a great point.
I didn't think about
that, how much in shape
they are during seasons.
That's a great point.
Well, hopefully, that was
helpful for you, Sophia.
So question number 2 was
submitted by Meaghan via
our form at
SmartPak.com/AsktheVetQuestions.
And Meaghan wants to know,
"What type of fencing
is best for 24/7 turnout,
i.e, electric tape, rope,
barbed wire, no climb,
wooden, et cetera?
Thank you!
I absolutely love your videos
and look forward to them
each month."
And she even put little
heart emojis for you.
[LAUGHTER]
DR LYDIA GRAY: Nice.
Or for you.
So you can probably
pick out of her list
which one it is that I'm
not going to approve.
It begins with a B.
DAN: I was going to say,
I'm assuming the barbed wire
was probably not–
DR LYDIA GRAY: Let's just
knock out the barbed wire.
The other ones that we're
told to avoid for horses
are the high-tensile steel wire,
because it's not very visible.
And it can act like a knife
if they run into it at speed.
I mean, it just cuts
through flesh and bone.
It's really awful, if you've
ever seen one of those.
And then the other one
is called page mesh wire.
It's the wire that is about
three to four inches square.
And it's just the right
size for a hoof and leg
to go through but
not come back out.
So you want to avoid
any kind of fence
that can trap a hoof or a head.
Some fences, they
require a crosspiece,
and that's an area where a
horse can stick a head in.
Horses, I mean, that's
what they do, right?
DAN: They are very creative.
DR LYDIA GRAY: They
challenge everything.
And so those are the
three that I would avoid.
So that leaves us with
a lot of other ones.
And I found this quote,
"There is no best fence."
There's things we look for.
And she specifically
said, "24/7 turnout."
so she wants a pasture
fence at night and day.
So it has to be highly visible.
It has to be strong.
We use the word "secure,"
and we mean secure enough
to hold the horse
in if they hit it.
And they could hit
it just because they
didn't see that it was there.
They could hit it because they
were bouncing around, playing
and romping.
They could hit it because
they spooked and ran.
So–
DAN: We've all seen that.
[LAUGHS]
DR LYDIA GRAY:
We've all seen that.
So it has to be
durable and strong
but also forgiving
and have some give–
no hazardousness to it, like
we talked about the trapping,
but no sharp edges or points.
DAN: Because I
guess at some point,
if the horse does
happen to get stuck,
you want it to be able to
come undone, in a sense,
or at least be able
to get them out of it.
DR LYDIA GRAY: Or they
could bounce off it.
So there's wood rail.
There's vinyl rail with the
high-tensile steel in it,
which is a very popular form
of fence, because it's visible.
It's strong.
And it has some give.
You can, a little
bit, bounce off it.
DAN: [LAUGHS] Poor Newman's
just out there bouncing off his.
DR LYDIA GRAY: Oh, no,
he doesn't touch fences.
There's a vinyl rail, which I
don't consider a horse fence,
only because it's the PVC
material, but it's hollow.
Do you know what
I'm talking about?
DAN: Yes.
DR LYDIA GRAY: It's
more decorative.
It's what they use around
dressage rings and stuff.
And in the cold, it can
shatter and make sharp edges.
And if a horse hits it,
it's going to break.
DAN: So more for maybe riding
rings, not so much for turnout.
DR LYDIA GRAY: Yeah,
I mean, there's
all sorts of reasons for
fences on a horse property.
There's the perimeter of
the outside fence, which
is used to, if you get a loose
horse from the regular fence,
keep them in.
But it also keeps out
unwanted visitors–
dogs, wildlife, people–
DAN: People who are
driving by and see a barn,
and they want to stop in.
DR LYDIA GRAY: Yeah, whatever.
So what other ones?
Electric.
So electric is not usually a
fence that you use by itself.
But you use it in
combination with something.
Like you might put it as
the top strand on a fence,
because one of the
things you have
to consider in fencing is that
it's not just about the horse,
keeping him in an area, keeping
him away from other horses.
It's protecting the fence
from the horse at times,
because they chew on them.
They paw on them.
They scratch on them.
DAN: [LAUGHS]
DR LYDIA GRAY: I
mean, the fences are–
DAN: Multi-purpose little toy.
DR LYDIA GRAY:
[CHUCKLES] That's right.
That's right.
And then I think she mentioned
there is wire mesh that
is horse appropriate.
And one brand is the no climb.
And then there's the V-mesh.
So those are very, very small.
They're very sturdy.
They do have some give.
A lot of times, people will put
a top wood rail on top of them,
because they're
not super visible.
But it you put a board on it,
then they're easier to see.
DAN: That's a good point,
because I was going to say,
I have seen a couple of them,
and it is a little bit hard.
DR LYDIA GRAY: Very hard
to see, but you can enhance
the visibility pretty easily.
But other things that you
have to take into account
are the initial purchase price.
And then, how easy
are these to maintain?
The wood fencing, the three-
or four-board post and rail–
very pretty, it's very
traditional in some places.
But it takes a lot
to maintain it.
DAN: Horses chew on them.
DR LYDIA GRAY: You're
all in when that–
yeah, they love the wood
and the painting and that.
So there's a lot of
things to consider.
I recommend going to farms,
seeing what they have,
talking to the
people, and saying,
"If you had to do this all over
again, how would you do it?"
And you might get some
really helpful answers.
DAN: Yeah, use the
resources you have
available in your community.
DR LYDIA GRAY: Before you start
putting money into it, yeah.
DAN: I always think it's
so funny with fencing
in horses and turnout.
No matter how big
of a turnout it is,
they will roll as close
to that fence as possible
and give me a heart
attack every single time.
[LAUGHS] But those are some
great tips for Meaghan, sure.
So question number
three was actually
asked by Meaghan again.
This time, she asked on YouTube.
So she's taking advantage
of all our platforms here.
So this time, Meaghan wants
to know, "Which do you
prefer for an adult horse
who lives outside 24/7
with unlimited access to good
quality hay and no grain–
a multi-vitamin or a
multi-purpose supplement?
What exactly is the difference?
If a horse is on
a multi-vitamin,
will it even need a
multi-purpose supplement?
This horse is mostly used
for lessons/pleasure riding."
And she also said
again, "Thank you!
By the way, I love the videos."
DR LYDIA GRAY: [LAUGHS] Did they
get a heart emoji this time?
DAN: No heart emoji this time.
There is a little smiley
face this time, though.
DR LYDIA GRAY: All right.
DAN: [LAUGHS]
DR LYDIA GRAY: Those are
some great questions.
And I want to jump
right to the what
is the difference
between a multi-vitamin
and a multi-purpose.
If you could grab that one–
careful, it's really heavy.
So this is an example of
a multi-vitamin mineral
supplement.
And it is designed to
bridge the gap between what
the NRC, Nutrient
Requirements of Horses,
says your horse needs
on a daily basis
and what is being supplied in
the high-quality pasture or hay
that your horse is getting.
If your horse is in light work
and a trail-ridden, pleasure–
DAN: Just doing some lessons
and doing pleasure riding.
DR LYDIA GRAY: And your forage
has a good enough protein,
amino acids in it, this might
be all your horse needs.
It's got vitamins A,
D, E, K and B vitamins,
and minerals like
the macrominerals.
You have the calcium, the
phosphorus, the magnesium,
but also the microminerals like
copper, zinc, and manganese
and those.
And so it just makes sure that
the hay and the pasture, which
might be deficient in
minerals and vitamins,
you're bringing your
horse's nutrition plane
up to that level
that the NRC sets.
A multi-purpose, on the other
hand, is completely different.
We call these combination
supplements, combos,
sometimes all-in-one.
And it's really more of a
rider convenience factor,
because we find that people
feed joint, hoof, skin
and coat, digestion, probably
the most popular categories.
And rather than having four
different supplements, which
can take up quite a few
wells in a SmartPak,
if you take the
active ingredients
from those categories
and put them in one base
that you can make a pellet with,
then the volume is smaller,
and the price is lower.
DAN: Which we love.
DR LYDIA GRAY: Yeah, and
it's just more convenient.
So a multi-purpose isn't
to bridge nutritional gaps.
It's to provide support to
your horse in some key areas,
like that we talked about– the
joint and the hoof and the skin
and coat.
And so those are just
the four that most people
like to provide together.
Now if your horse is in light
work and not doing a lot,
you might be able to get by
with the base combo supplement.
But if your horse is
in heavier work or–
DAN: Competing.
DR LYDIA GRAY: –competing
or has some special needs,
like maybe his feet
aren't that great,
then a higher level
of a combo would
have higher levels
of the actives,
as well as a higher range.
Like some of the combos
have not just joint
but joint and soft
tissue support.
DAN: Yes, which is very
important, especially
if you're going to do
something like jumping.
DR LYDIA GRAY: Yeah, yeah.
So a multi-vitamin, you do this
to round out their nutrition.
And then the multi-purpose,
you say, what
needs does my horse– what do
I want to target, what system?
DAN: So a multi-vitamin is what
the horse needs for life, just
general nutrients that
they would need for life.
DR LYDIA GRAY: Blinking and
breathing and all that, yeah.
DAN: And then
multipurpose, we're
going to focus in more targeted
support for your horse,
whether it be joint,
gastric, digestive, all
combined together in one.
DR LYDIA GRAY: Yeah.
So people do feed
these together.
Like you wouldn't feed two
multi-vitamin minerals.
But you might feed a
multi-vitamin mineral
supplement and a multi-purpose.
That's totally fine.
That's not oversupplementing,
because it's supporting two
completely different areas.
DAN: So that's good,
because she did mention–
she said, if a horse
is on a multi-vitamin,
would it even need
a multi-purpose?
So yes.
DR LYDIA GRAY: So yes.
Look at me answer questions
that I didn't know about.
DAN: [LAUGHS]
DR LYDIA GRAY: Yeah,
so different categories
completely.
DAN: OK, perfect.
All right, so on to
question number 4.
This one was submitted by
Ashlee on the Ask the Vet form.
And Ashlee said, "I have a
two-year-old Quarter Horse
mare that has a club foot.
What is a club foot?
How do horses
develop a club foot?
What will this look like
for the mare's future.
I am working with
my vet and farrier,
but what else can I do
to properly manage this?"
We actually did have a couple of
comments on our community board
on YouTube.
So Kayla wants to know–
or said, "I have a mare
with two club feet.
It's really very manageable
with the right care.
But I feel as though
many people are still
very confused by the idea."
DR LYDIA GRAY: Mm,
that's helpful.
DAN: And then Donna
said, "I sincerely
want to know the
answer–" apparently,
Donna is experiencing this–
"I have seen a lot of
videos on hoof care
and how the farrier trims
and cares for a horse.
But I've never heard of
a club foot in horses."
DR LYDIA GRAY: Oh.
All right, well, you
came to the right place.
So I want to make
sure I got this right.
And I asked Danvers Child,
our Hoof Health Consultant–
DAN: Our go-to.
DR LYDIA GRAY: –yeah,
to help me on this.
So this is what he
wrote, "There are
numerous definitions
of club foot, which may
be why there's some confusion.
But the simple fact is that a
club foot is overly upright."
Or steep, is one
way of saying it.
"Whether the condition is
genetic or acquired,"–
so present at birth or
develops later in life–
"it places excess stress on
the bony column of the limb
and creates alignment issues.
While the condition
often doesn't
cause immediate lameness
or acute lameness,
it does affect
gait and movement.
And it generally tends to
shorten a horse's useful career
and comfort."
DAN: Hmm.
DR LYDIA GRAY: So he says,
for this person, specifically,
"You're on the right track
by having a vet/farrier
team working on this, because
it does require a team.
Club feet are graded from
a mild, that's a grade
1, to a severe, grade 4.
So the first step
for your team is
to determine what grade or
severity they're working with."
DAN: OK.
And that's what your
vet would decide?
DR LYDIA GRAY: With the farrier.
DAN: With the farrier.
DR LYDIA GRAY: They
use the same scale
so that they can talk
apples to apples.
Yeah.
And they can consult with other
people and show radiographs.
"If it's a 1 or 2,"– so
that's on the mild side–
"they'll likely
opt for management.
And that's the farrier
keeping a tighter schedule
than usual"– like we say,
five to six weeks, maybe.
So it might be three to four
weeks or even two weeks–
"working to ensure that ratios
and angles are maintained
and avoiding stress to
the joints and bones.
If it turns out to be a more
severe grade, like a 3 or 4,
they might opt for surgical
intervention, which
would involve cutting
the inferior check
ligament"– in addition to the
management of the increased
schedule, the tighter
schedule, and then the ratios
and angles and then all that.
DAN: So with a club
foot, basically, normally
with a horse's hoof,
we see a lower heel.
But with a club foot,
it's going to be–
DR LYDIA GRAY: The
heel is taller.
So in a horse's
hoof, you want the–
DAN: That was my
hoof, by the way.
[LAUGHS]
DR LYDIA GRAY: Oh, OK.
You want the pastern hoof
angle to be the same, parallel.
And in a club foot, the hoof is
steeper than the pastern angle.
We call this a
broken forward angle.
This is the
uprightness, steepness.
"boxiness" is a term, "boxy,"
"boxy foot," I've heard.
Interesting that the lady who
asked, the horse has one foot.
And then the community
commenter has two feet.
DAN: That's what I
was going to ask.
Is it common to be in two feet?
DR LYDIA GRAY: It can be.
What I just learned
at a symposium
I went to recently at the
Northeast Association of Equine
Practitioners is the
person who spoke said,
"Don't get so focused
on the club foot itself.
But when a horse has a
club foot, or in this case,
two club feet, the other
feet will be affected too."
Instead of having
an angle this way,
they might be broken
back to compensate.
There's some compensation in
the body going on for the one
or two feet that are clubby.
DAN: Got it, so–
DR LYDIA GRAY: So you've got to
pay attention to all four feet.
DAN: Because it's not
just the look of the hoof
but the structures inside
the hoof are being affected.
DR LYDIA GRAY: Exactly.
And we used to think about this
as being contracted tendons.
So it's the deep
digital flexor tendon
that is pulling
on the coffin bone
and changing that coffin joint.
But now we know that
there's more structures
than just the tendon affected.
They call it the
musculotendinous unit.
So the whole back of
the leg is affected
in pulling that shortened–
DAN: Which is then going
to affect the movement
of the entire limb.
DR LYDIA GRAY:
Yeah, and what can
lead to the discomfort
and the performance
challenges and the–
not life expectancy, but career
expectancy, career span, yeah.
DAN: OK, so continue to work
with your vet, your farrier,
get on the same page, get
radiographs, and figure out
what your time frame for
your horse's trimming cycle
is going to be.
And manage their comfort
and gauge it from there?
DR LYDIA GRAY: Yep.
DAN: All right.
So on to question number five.
This was submitted by
Deanna on Facebook.
And Deanna wants
to know, "Can you
explain the difference between
a complete feed and a ration
balancer, and if one is
recommended over the other
for horses starting training?"
DR LYDIA GRAY: Boy, can I.
DAN: [LAUGHS] One of
your favorite topics.
DR LYDIA GRAY: Oh,
man, it's amazing.
OK, so we finished one about
the multi-vitamin mineral
supplement.
And I would call this the bottom
rung of my equine food pyramid,
because if you have a really
high-quality pasture or hay,
then maybe all you need are some
vitamins and minerals to bridge
the gap between what
the horse requires based
on the NRC, Nutrient
Requirements of Horses
and what they're getting.
OK, done.
Then the next one is
what she asked about,
the ration balancer.
That's this one, if
you'll hold that.
This is the Buckeye
brand Gro 'N Win.
And this is one pound, and it's
a really good-smelling pellet.
DAN: It does smell pretty good.
DR LYDIA GRAY: Yeah, and
it makes a satisfying sound
if you drop it with your scoop
from high onto the horse's feed
tub.
So they feel like they're
getting something,
and they're not missing out
when everybody else in the barn
is getting something.
We traditionally
feed this– well,
it has vitamins, minerals,
and protein, so the next step
up from this.
DAN: Yep, just
vitamin and minerals,
and now we add in
protein for this one.
DR LYDIA GRAY: But
not so much calories,
because it's for the horse
that doesn't need calories, so
the easy keeper or the one
that's not doing much work.
Now she said she's starting
a horse in training.
DAN: Yes, so–
DR LYDIA GRAY: This might
not be the perfect feed.
The next step then is a
fortified grain, also called
a concentrate.
This is a sweet feed.
So it probably feels
a little sticky.
DAN: A little bit, a little bit.
[LAUGHS]
DR LYDIA GRAY: So it's got–
the nutrients are vitamins,
minerals, protein,
calories generally in the
form of simple carbohydrates
or sugars and starches.
And for some horses,
that's not appropriate.
Although others need those
calories, because they're
starting in training.
They're doing work.
DAN: So if you have a horse
who maybe is a little bit
on the easier keeper side–
DR LYDIA GRAY:
Doesn't need calories,
doesn't need this,
stick with this.
DAN: Got it.
DR LYDIA GRAY: Or
a horse that just
doesn't do well with sugars,
so a horse with PSSM,
Polysaccharide Storage
Myopathy, or a horse
that just gets silly with sugar.
And like this is Pixy
Stix for horses, right?
DAN: Yeah.
DR LYDIA GRAY: So it just
doesn't do well for everyone.
The next feed I think
she asked about was–
DAN: The complete feed.
DR LYDIA GRAY:
–the complete feed.
And I don't think we're
going to sit this one up,
but we'll just maybe–
DAN: I'll try.
DR LYDIA GRAY: –OK.
This is 16 pounds.
DAN: Oh, jeez.
DR LYDIA GRAY: We have
the complete feed.
And it's this color because
it's beet pulp-based.
And it's like hay
and grain in a bag.
So for the older horses,
horses with bad teeth,
horses that can't have
hay because of, say,
a respiratory allergy,
this provides their forage
and their nutrition.
So it's got the vitamins
and minerals, the protein,
the calories, and the forage.
This is everything.
DAN: Got it.
So this is like maybe
the senior horse
who can't eat as much
as hay due to the teeth.
DR LYDIA GRAY: Or can't
eat the long-stem forage.
They don't have the
teeth for it anymore.
And they ball it
up in their mouth
and spit it out, the quidding.
So this is everything they need.
16 pounds is all they
would get in a day.
So a 50-pound bag is going
to last you three days.
But you can't feed
this much at once.
You would feed it in,
say, three, four feedings.
And you might even soak it to
make it even easier to eat, so
like a gruel.
DAN: I was going
to say, 16 pounds,
you have to split it into–
DR LYDIA GRAY: Well,
it's not a grain.
It's hay and grain.
But it is bulkier
than the forage
that you take in and chew.
When it's forage, the
long-stem forages,
they have a lot of chew time.
And so it goes to the digestive
system at a slower rate.
This is going to go down
much faster, because they
can chew and swallow it next.
So yeah.
But if you divide
this up into, say,
three feedings of five
pounds each, that's perfect.
So for her, she could start
with the ration balancer.
And then if the horse is not
maintaining weight or energy
for performance, then move
up to the fortified grain,
wherever that went.
DAN: [LAUGHS] Sorry.
DR LYDIA GRAY: And
then you read the bag
and you give what it says.
But then you can
adjust up and down.
You don't have to stick
with just the bag.
That's your guidelines
of where to start
based on what the
horse is telling you,
which means you have to
body condition score.
That's a different video.
DAN: Another favorite
one of your topics.
DR LYDIA GRAY: And
use the weight tape,
and look at your horse's
attitude and performance.
DAN: I'm going to
put this one down.
DR LYDIA GRAY: Yes,
that looks very heavy.
Good job.
DAN: Ugh, thanks.
[CHUCKLES]
DR LYDIA GRAY: Yeah, but that's
the multi-vitamin, the ration
balancer, the fortified
grain, and the complete feed
in order of the nutrients they
have and what they're used for.
DAN: So since her horse
might be an easy keeper,
it's just starting out,
you'd want to start–
DR LYDIA GRAY: I would start
with the ration balancer.
And if the horse shows you
that he needs more calories,
then I would go to
the fortified grain.
DAN: And add in the
fortified grain, and–
DR LYDIA GRAY: I would switch
to the fortified grain.
I tend not to combine products,
because manufacturers make them
for specific purposes.
And when you combine
products, if I'm
feeding a little bit of this
and a little bit of that
and a little bit
of this, you don't
know what they're getting
as far as the vitamins
and minerals and proteins.
So just feed one product.
And when you do switch,
switch gradually,
over 7 to 10 days or 2 weeks.
There's no hurry.
DAN: And how much of
the fortified grain
do you feed typically per day?
DR LYDIA GRAY: This is
probably two or three pounds.
Sometimes it can be as much
as five or six or more pounds.
There's different grades,
I guess of fortified grain.
Some of them are very
concentrated in their energy.
They're very energy-dense.
And so you might only
need to feed a few pounds.
But if you have a horse in
really heavy work, a racehorse,
it might need six, seven,
eight pounds of it.
And the rule of thumb is no
more than a half a percent
of body weight.
I know, math.
So, as an example,
1,000 pound horse
should really get no more
than five pounds at a meal.
So if your bag says– and what
you're doing, your horse says,
I need more than five
pounds of grain a day,
you have to divide it
up, so like three pounds
in the morning and
three pounds at night.
DAN: A little breakfast,
lunch, dinner situation.
DR LYDIA GRAY:
Perfect, yep, yep.
DAN: Perfect.
Well, I think that's–
DR LYDIA GRAY: I
think we did it.
DAN: We have a lot
of blogs, though,
on our website in
referring to grains,
because it can be kind
of an overwhelming topic.
And you definitely did a
lot for us over the years
breaking it down and
explaining it and how it goes.
Well, perfect.
That's it for our
questions for this episode.
But we will need your questions
for the December episode, which
is coming up–
DR LYDIA GRAY: The
Christmas episode.
DAN: I know.
[CHUCKLES] And you can submit
those questions on YouTube,
Facebook, Instagram,
our blog, Twitter,
or our form at
SmartPak.com/AsktheVetQuestions.
But you can always ask
your questions any time
using #AsktheVetVideo.
DR LYDIA GRAY: What if
you think of something,
it pops into your head?
You ask it.
DAN: Middle of the night,
pops in the head, go for it.
[LAUGHS] Any questions
received before Friday,
October 26th will be eligible
for our next episode.
DR LYDIA GRAY: Cool.
DAN: And if your question was
answered in this video or one
of the previous ones, make sure
to reach out to our Customer
Care team at
[email protected]
so you can redeem
your gift card.
DR LYDIA GRAY: That's right.
DAN: So until next
time, subscribe
and have a great ride.

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