The Equine Practice Inc

Cheese Doodles, Chocolate Bars and Candy Won’t Hurt You

Did Doc T just say OK to eating Cheese Doodles, chocolate bars and more tasty things?  Yup! But only with a condition.

What sparked this idea was a story I heard about a Norwegian explorer who walked to the South Pole and back by himself.  Along the way he would bury small stashes – or caches – of food and supplies to help him on his way back. Just think about that.  When you or your horse works “hard,” is it equivalent to walking 10 hours a day in an unforgiving environment carrying everything you possess?

On day 86 of his journey he has lost about 55 pounds.  He comes across the last cache he buried months earlier.  He videos himself and the jubilation he has when he finds both Cheese Doodles, a milk chocolate bar and Mentos candy.  You MUST see this video (turn on the subtitles to translate from Norwegian).

My guess is that he doesn’t get to eat Cheese Doodles, chocolate and candy every day and after nearly starving, these foods won’t hurt him.  Nor will some occasional grain or a carrot hurt your horse given every 3 months when working for a living.  Same with birthday cake once a year.

Carbohydrate dependency is defined as eating Cheese Doodles every day or feeding your horse grain and carrots every day.  Our mitochondria, cells and organs were never meant to be bathed in these foods daily.  In the 1950’s and 1960’s the roads in the US had service stations that sold gas and oil, serviced and repaired cars and dispensed gum balls, peanuts and cashews for a penny and a twist of a handle.  There were no shelves of fried chips, baked goods or sugar laden candy, soda and beer.

There were very few feed stores and what they sold were only whole grains. Now feed stores carrying a wide variety of horse feed based on their life purpose in colorful bags with catchy names and pretty girls on the front and unpronounceable words on the back. They are equivalent to the convenience store filled with sugar waiting to make ill all who eat it.  

Just take a walk in any woods on any day.  Please report back to me any sightings of squirrels eating specialized senior feeds.  For that matter, look for squirrels on canes or walkers, squirrel nursing homes or squirrel retirement homes.  The abundance and the availability of food for us and our horses astounds me.  Convenient stores and fast food chains make the possibility of starving impossible.  Same with the abundance of grains and supplements for our horses.  It is NOT how we evolved to eat.  There must be some relief from all of this and it is called winter.  This is when there are few carbohydrates available and in turn it is when the mitochondria and cells regain their strength.  I have written about this in other blogs.  But simply put, stop feeding grain, hay extenders, balancers and supplements to horses.  Allow them to use the hind gut to ferment cellulose into fat to fuel their body.  This is how horses thrive.  It is a unique digestive system only seen in horses, asses, mules, zebras, tapirs and rhinoceroses. No other animal has it including cattle.

I just met a 20 year old care taker of some horses who never heard of not feeding grain because it is all he, and every one else under 40 years of age, has ever been told.  But then he thought about it for a minute and he recalled an old horseman back in his Mexican town who had also said to never feed grain to horses.  He was the most respected horse trainer there, but because of marketing, the young man had forgotten this old man’s wisdom.

If you want to feed grain and carrots to your horses it’s OK.  Just be sure they have plowed a field or run you to town and back first and only feed them these once every 3 months.  As I have always said, McDonald’s doesn’t make you fat but it’s driving to and from McDonald’s that does.

Comments 12

  1. What you said about McDonald’s hit home. My Dad always said they call it fast food because it makes you die fast – he will turn 100 this month!!

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  2. I agree, but if the hay quality is poor in nutrition and you have a metabolic/IR horse what is the solution? What happends when the horse comes out in grass during the summer,? Will the digestive system survive and not run into trouble?

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      What constitutes “poor” hay quality? For me it is mold. But if you are referring to a low starch content and high cellulose content then this will lead to more short chain fatty acid production by the gut bacteria. These fats are a better fuel source and actually help the cells and their mitochondria regenerate.

      Summer grass has a higher starch (sugar) content which will make them fat for winter. This is the natural ebb and flow of life. My point of this blog is that the continuous feeding of sugar throughout the year is the root cause of gut inflammation, insulin resistance, laminitis and more.

      Horses that are naturally introduced to spring and then summer grass should do fine if they are coming out of a low sugar period of winter. However caution should be used if the horse has been fed a continuous carbohydrate (sugar) load throughout the winter. These horses may be more susceptible to gut inflammation and the associated colic, insulin spike and laminitis.

      For more information be sure to read all the blogs here at TheEquinePractice.com/feed or enroll in the nutrition course. Understanding how the daily feeding of sugar is harming our horses is essential to improving their health.

  3. Your blogs are great. They really are. And I agree with you. But here’s the rub as I see it–some of us board and in a boarding situation we’re at the mercy of management efficiency policies and processes, not to mention cost (“okay, we can just add $200 to the monthly board for special handling of your one horse out of the other 15.” Yeah, that’s not happening.) And, not to mention trying to find a barn that has the ideal arrangement. So what are we supposed to do? We can’t all run out and buy the perfect farm and set up the perfect feeding program. We can work with our barn owners but only to the point where it doesn’t put a burden on those who also care for a dozen or more horses. My horse colicked this week and is in recovery from surgery (right dorsal colon displacement). One of the first questions I asked the vet was “why/how” and about feeding and management. They couldn’t give me an answer. “Some horses just do this and we don’t always know why.” I never had illnesses or injuries when my horses were kept at home and lived and roamed, and ate like horses should. I don’t have that luxury now. So what are my options? I read a lot of “don’t do this” as if everyone walks out the back door to the barn. I have yet to read a post about how to wack our way through the barriers we encounter by having to board. Very frustrating.

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      I see this all the time and can fully understand your frustration. I have had several owners pull their horses out of facilities that are unwilling to change to barns more in alignment. This may not be possible for the majority of readers.

      But here is where I need to be a little tough. Being the horse’s advocate may not be easy or convenient. If your horse has had an illness such as colic then what you are doing is not working. The barn must either change their ways or allow for your wishes. The ideal thing would be to show the barn owner how not feeding grain will save them money (increase profits). Another would be to select 2 horses with known issues (fecal squirts, grooming difficulties, riding difficulties, bad behavior or poor work ethic) and try the 2 week no grain challenge with them. When they see the improvements then add soy bean meal for the poor hair coat, top line and hooves. Hang a diary outside the stall for all to read the weekly observations. Be sure to set expectations for 2 weeks / hair coat, 3 to 4 months hoof growth (don’t tell the farrier and let him / her notice on their own), and 4 to 6 months top line improvement. Seeing is believing. Improvement in the horse becomes obvious and the feeding costs are objectively seen on the invoices. Slowly the barn will change their minds as their own eyes become the speaker to their decision making brain.

      Start with 1 or 2 horses. Place signs on the stall saying “No grain. No treats” You bring the soybean meal daily for the next 60 days. Because if you don’t take a stand, your horses and the other horses will continue to have gut inflammation and health issues.

      I am doing what I can here and at every barn I go to. You need to do what you can. Share this and my other blogs. Bring them and leave them for all to read – especially the comments from others with their success stories. Join the Facebook private group called “The Horse’s Advocate” and ask others there for suggestions. Enroll in the nutrition course and really study it. It is not easy especially in a negative environment, but the reward of helping the horses is so addictive. And if you make no headway then find another barn even if it is not convenient for you. Your horse will appreciate your extra efforts.

      1. If there is no grass available and only hay, how does that influence the two week challenge? What about alfalfa pellets? Are those okay?

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          A horse that has no grass does not lead a natural life – but many horses and humans don’t. So we do the best we can with what we have and hay is the next best thing as long as there is no mold in it (and there is always mold in it to some degree).

          Horses that have had their grain removed usually do not increase their hay consumption. In some places the hay consumption goes down once a protein source is added. This is usually 1 flake of alfalfa hay a day (or the equivalent in pellets – about 4 to 5 pounds) and soybean meal (1 pound a day assuming a 1000 to 1400 pound horse).

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Your thoughts are important for all to hear and may help others to learn from your experiences. Take the time to add to the discussion. However due to time limitations I will probably not answer direct questions to me. Thanks, Doc T

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