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 (www.safergrass.org 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 be....am 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.