Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The scope of the puzzle revealed

As some of you readers have likely already guessed, I am a bit of an amateur equine nutritionist.

On my own, I have attempted to unravel what had previously been a mystery from beginning to end-the intricate, delicate, equine digestive tract. I have always known I have a lot left to learn, and that I have only general principles to guide my feed choices and approach. I haven't been to college, but I read extensively on the net-results from studies, information from manufacturers, anectdotal stories from professionals in the field, extensive reading on research programs and their results ( is a fascinating website, btw-Katy Watts ROCKS!) I have also tried to learn the value of forage testing, how the elements in the horses' diet work together-or are inhibited from uptake, etc. I have developed general guidelines based on conclusions I have formed from this amateur study-and so far, they have served me pretty well. The evidence is plain from the looks of the horses in my care.

However, I don't have the science background to get into real detail on balancing a dietery regimen. In other words, I am working with a knowledge base that approximates a 48 piece jigsaw puzzle-when what is really happening is the equivalent of a 1000 piece super challenger. This was brought home the other day when I began reading up on IR/deworming/lysine/vitamins. Oh my word.

What I don't know is astounding. How it is that copper, zinc, iron, manganese (and etc), amino acids, vitamins all work together-or not, as the case may be. I feel certain that I am missing some key elements in the horses' diets-but I am not positive just what that may I providing too much of one thing, which is preventing other things from being bio-avilable to the horse? How can I tell whether a horse is able to utilize what I am feeding in the proper amounts? Without a lot of testing, I can't as it stands now.

But what I can do, is get more education in the subject. To that end, I plan on enrolling in an online course. Yeah yeah, I can see you rolling your eyeballs, lol! This particular course (and others offered) originate from a research veterinarian, who has accredidation with a number of insitutions. Since I cannot take any such courses locally, I am left with what I can manage long distance. First up, ten weeks of Cushings/IR study. Since we have a tremendous amount of this here, the more I can learn about these conditions....the better!

I hope this will prompt at least one person here to increase their knowledge base, for the future of horses in their care. If I can do it working full time, so can YOU.


Lori said...

That's cool, can't wait to hear about what you have learned.

Some sources Ive gleaned from are the Yahoo Cushings site, they have worked out some successful diets for Cushings/IR horses.
Another source is The Horse Journal (used to be called Micheal Plumbs Horse Journal). They do a lot of testing and trials on products, alternative treatments and vitamin/mineral supplementation, etc.

Keep up the good work.

Gisela said...

Tj, I think this is absolutely wonderful that you are going to this class. Many horses here in Alaska have been diagnosed with IR/Cushings. This will surely help the horse community.

I have been on Dr.Kellons Cushings list now for over 5 years and it has some awesome information.

I am a firm believer that IR is stress related be it weather or hooves. I don't wish anyone to ever to have to go through either IR or Cushings.