Monday, April 27, 2009

Happy 40th, Red Dugger!

"One of Debbie Benkert-Curtis' oldest and dearest friend turns 40 on May 16, and she's throwing him a party. It might sound strange that she's planning to hold the celebration in a stable, but it's actually a natural venue choice.

That's because her old buddy, Red Dugger, is a horse."

"Curtis said she's invited ""just about everybody'' to the celebration, which will take place at the Atlantic Avenue farm. There will be carrot cake, she said, and balloons. It will be a chance for others to join her in a tribute to the friend who has been, in Curtis' words, "the one thing in the majority of my life that's been constant.""

No need for editorial comments from us on this one!
Go to to read the whole story.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

“Buy” Local!

The local newspaper recently ran a short article concerning the economy’s affect on horse owners. Like everyone else, horse owners are losing jobs, losing homes and spending savings intended for retirement. As a result more and more horses in Virginia are in need of new homes.

At the same time, many people now shop online for horses, as they do most everything else. We can view nation-wide classifieds, “visit” adoption programs in other states, and take advantage of bulletin boards and discussion forums.

However……..there are many hundreds of horses right here in Virginia with no place to go. Sound, healthy, trained horses are offered for sale at a fraction of the prices they would have commanded two years ago. Many are offered for free by owners desperate to find new homes when they can no longer afford feed or veterinary care. Equine rescue facilities and sanctuaries are operating at maximum capacity.

And yet, people still buy or adopt horses from other parts of the country and transport them to VA, making fewer homes available to those horses already in trouble in our own back yards. Granted, if you are looking for a high-level competition horse, you may have to go farther to find your mount, but the average horse owner should be able to find a new equine family member among Virginia’s ample horse population.

Here are a few resources to check out if you are thinking about adding another horse to your family (or if you hadn’t thought about it until now, but can care for a horse whose options are limited.) -- A classified site focused on Virginia’s horse community

Chronicle of the Horse forum – visit the “Giveaway’s” folder. COTH is based in Virginia, and many local people frequent the forums.

Virginia Equine Rescue discussion group -- archives are public, but you'll need to join to post.

Visit a local horse welfare organization. Even if they don’t have the horse you are looking for, most network with other facilities or keep lists of horses that need new homes but are still with their owners. If you can’t adopt, contribute in any way you can, whether financially or by volunteering, to support farms who focus on local horses:
Equine Rescue League - Loudoun County
White Bird Appaloosa Horse Rescue - Burkeville
Gingersnap Girls Equine Education and Rescue Foundation - Hamilton
Rugby Creek Animal Rescue - Mouth of Wilson
Traveller's Rest Equine Elders Sanctuary! - Spotsylvania

Remember the Tourism Bureau's campaign of a few years ago? "Virginia Is For Horse Lovers." Its true. Virginia IS for Horse Lovers. Let's take care of Virginia's Horses.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Feeding Hay to Elders

Most equine senior feeds are described as "complete feeds." The term "complete feed" implies that a horse can maintain good health on that feed alone. While there are some Toothless Wonders that are physically unable to eat anything but a soaked complete feed, all horses require roughage to maintain optimal gut function and good health. Insufficient roughage is a common cause of soft droppings in elderly horses. Many dentally challenged horses live happily for years on a diet of only "complete feeds," but there is nothing like good ol' roughage to keep things moving along in a healthy manner.

The most common sources of roughage for horses are pasture and baled hay, although beet pulp, alfalfa or hay cubes, and bagged chopped forage are viable options in many circumstances.

For horses just beginning to experience dental problems, choice of hay and the manner in which it is presented can mean the difference between eating the hay or "quidding" (wadding the hay into balls, then spitting it out.) First cutting grass hays and alfalfa hays are usually quite coarse and stemmy. Second cutting grass hays are generally very leafy, with few stalks or seed heads, and easier to chew.

When serving hay to elders, it sometimes helps to "shake out" the flakes or books. A loose pile of individual strands allows a horse to pick up smaller mouthfuls than a compacted hay flake permits. (One disadvantage, however, to loose hay piles is their tendency to travel long distances on windy days. Choose a sheltered location when possible.)

Placement of hay can be very important when feeding several horses in one field. Large round bales are often not the best choice for elders, especially when feeding a large group of horses. A large number of horses forced to push toward a single food source is a very unnatural way for these animals to forage. Timid horses do especially poorly in this stress laden situation.
In both photos, above and below, "Lucy," an elderly mare, is the farthest horse on the left, unwilling to push her way toward the hay bale through a crowd of younger, more dominant horses.

A much better way to feed hay to elders (or any groups with submissive horses) is to divide the hay into more portions than there are horses, and place the portions several horse lengths apart. Appropriate spacing of enough hay piles ensures that timid or weak horses will have access to their share.

The horses shown grazing above have voluntarily chosen approximately three body lengths each as their comfort zones. Placing hay portions in a comparable pattern ensures all three can eat in comfort.

In the photo below, the two mares on the left are young, dominant animals who are very comfortable with each other. The mare on the right is a more timid elderly animal. She needs a greater space around her to eat in a relaxed manner. (Note the loosely piled hay as mentioned above.)

Spacing numerous hay piles some distance apart has a second benefit. It allows horses to mimic the meandering fashion in which they graze. Horses wander from one pile of hay to another just as they wander from one patch of grass to the next. It is unnatural for a horse to stand in one spot to eat for long periods of time. The horse's digestive system evolved to serve an animal "on the move," and functions best when he is allowed generous opportunity to perform that movement at will.

"Lucy," approximately 8 months after being moved to Traveller's Rest and a more appropriate feeding style.

Friday, April 24, 2009

FAQ's about Traveller's Rest

Why do you focus on old horses when there are so many "ridable" horses in need?
It is our belief that horses are no less deserving of lives free from hunger or pain merely because their physical abilities are not what they used to be. Some shelter facilities will not accept "special needs" elders because they cannot provide the specialized care required or because they do not have the ability to keep horses that may be permanent residents. Though TREES has limited space, we provide a safe haven for horses who have nowhere else to go.

Does the sanctuary's name have anything to do with General Lee's horse in the Civil War?
You bet! Traveller's Rest Equine Elders Sanctuary's current home is on Robert E Lee Drive. In fact, in 1864, the very fields in which our residents graze saw combat during the Battle of Spotsylvania Court House, as Federal troops tried to push across the Po River (our northern boundary) and on to Richmond. As far as we know, the General himself was not actually on our humble farm, having established his command post several miles to the west. Read more (Note: What was then called Shady Grove Church Road is now Robert E Lee Drive.)

How much does it cost to take care of a senior horse at TREES?
TREES spend an average of $1800 per horse per year. Some of the "easy keepers" cost a little less, some of those that require more senior feed or medications cost a little more.

Does the sanctuary receive government funding?
No. Traveller's Rest is in no way affiliated with any government agency. The sanctuary is a non-profit organization supported entirely by private donations and grants provided by other charitable organizations. How you can help

Can I volunteer if I haven't worked with horses in the past?
Absolutely! You are welcome to help the senior horses in whatever ways are comfortable for you. You can begin your volunteer efforts doing chores that do not deal directly with the horses, such as cleaning stalls or maintaining water tanks. If you like, you can then begin learning to work with the horses themselves, grooming, feeding, or helping during vet visits, for example. You can also help with jobs, like fundraising or writing educational handouts, that don't require a visit to the farm. You will never be asked to do anything you are uncomfortable doing. TREES strives to maintain a stress-free environment for our equine residents and our human volunteers and visitors. Volunteer

As a volunteer, will I be asked to commit to a certain number of hours?
No. How often you volunteer, and for how long, is entirely up to you. Some volunteers come regularly once a week, twice a week, or every other weekend. Some can help only during special events. Others are available to help with sporadic needs like trailering horses to the vet clinic. All we ask is that you let us know before you come so we have someone here to get you started and so we can schedule the day's work based on the number of people available. Of course, if you are doing a job you can do from your own home, your time is your own, as long as we are not on a deadline (one example of a job with a deadline might be to meet a closing date for filing a grant proposal.)

What are your business hours?
We do not have formal "business hours." TREES welcomes visitors by appointment as work schedules and weather allow.

How far is Traveller's Rest from {{fill in your city here}} ?
Unless you live in the immediate area, we probably can't answer that question. You can enter our zip code, 22553, into MapQuest or Google Maps to find that information.

What types of horses do you have?
In terms of breeds, we've hosted several Thoroughbreds (one a grandson of Secretariat,) a few Quarter Horses (to include Impressive and Poco Bueno descendants,) a Standardbred, two or three Arabians, a Friesian mare (Els B, the first mare to grace the cover of the Stud Book,) two Tennessee Walkers, a mule, two Shetland Pony crosses, a couple of draft crosses, and a plethora of wonderful grade horses (in other words, we don't know their breeding and don't care!) We've cared for an eventer, a "big lick" Walker, a steeplechaser, several (former) brood mares, Western Pleasure mounts, dressage horses, a cow "pony," camp horses, trail horses, a harness racer, an endurance horse, a barrel racer, and some horses whose pasts are complete mysteries.The conclusion seems to be that there is no "average" TREES resident. By the same token, no resident in more "special" than the others, regardless of pedigree or accomplishment. Retirement is the great equalizer in the world of equine elders. A Kentucky Derby winner is no more deserving of comfortable Golden Years than a camp horse who toted dozens (hundreds?) of squirming children up and down Blue Ridge trails. Whatever their backgrounds, all of our residents are "golden" oldies. If you are in Virginia, whether you live here or are passing through, stop by and meet these wonderful old veterans. Forget the stereotype of "old nags." Our residents may surprise you.

Where do the horses at the sanctuary come from?
Several of the residents at TREES were abandoned at boarding stables. A few were left behind when owners sold property and moved away. Some were brought to the sanctuary by owners who realized they could not provide the special care required. On occasion, if space and resources are available, the sanctuary accepts horses due to owner hardships such as a change in financial situation or physical capability. For the most part, the criteria used to accept horses focus on whether or not that horse will suffer pain or hunger if left where it is at the time of the call. If, at that time, TREES cannot accept another horse, efforts will be made to place the horse in a new home or with another equine welfare organization as quickly as possible.

Do you buy horses from auctions?
No. With so many horses in need of shelter, whether they've been abandoned or are still with owners who can no longer care for them, it would be a very inefficient use of donated funds to buy horses. In addition, TREES does not spend funds on having horses hauled to VA from great distances when there are so many in need in the immediate region.

Does the sanctuary have horses available for adoption?
All of our residents are available for adoption. Take note, however, that almost all of our horses have special needs to some degree. Potential adopters will be screened thoroughly to determine their ability to provide specialized care when needed, and post-adoption follow-ups will be performed to ensure proper care is being given. For those reasons, adopters must live with in a three hour drive of Spotsylvania, VA, 22553.

How much do you charge for boarding retirees?
TREES is not a boarding facility.

Do you need any barn cats?
Thank you, but no. There is a feral colony in the community.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Free Webinar: Managing Equine Joint Disease - May19


This free Webinar on "Managing Equine Joint Disease" is presented by David Frisbie, DVM, PhD, Dipl. ACVS, of Colorado State University, and Craig Shoemaker, DVM, a Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica equine professional services veterinarian and former private practitioner.

You can sign up for this FREE Webinar at Your registration allows you to watch the video presentation and ask questions live during the presentation, or you can submit your questions via e-mail prior to the Webinar to be answered during the live event.

Animal Communication Workshop: Advanced I - the Deepening -

Friday, Saturday and Sunday
May 1-3, 2009
Traveller's Rest Equine Elders Sanctuary
Spotsylvania, VA
(a portion of the course fees will be donated to the Sanctuary)
To Register:
This class is for those who have completed the Basic 2 Day Animal Communication course and wish to continue to deepen their connection with animals. Leave the hustle and bustle of your day to day life behind for a few days and connect deeply with all that is. This class is for those who want more knowledge, direction and inspiration to deepen their connection and experience.

As you continue to open your heart to heart connection with animals and all that is, you will gain more experience, knowledge, guidance and inspiration. You will learn from the master teachers: the animals themselves. Janet will guide you, but the animals will teach you. We won't stop there. That is just the icing on the cake. As we continue to go deeper you will learn how to open to all that is, including domestic and wild animals, plants, trees, and all of creation. This will be a weekend of fun and surprises. Discover your power animal. Come experience the magic.

PREREQUISITES: The Basic 2 day course. You may also take this workshop if you have completed a basic animal communication course with another teacher. Please email Janet with details such as: date of class, location, teacher's name, and write what you learned or gained from the class and how you have applied your animal communication skills.
Animal Talk (book by Penelope Smith); practice of Basic course skills.
* bring photos of your animal companions to the course
RECOMMENDED Reading: When Animals Speak (book by Penelope Smith); Species Link

Monday, April 20, 2009

We're back!

Just a quick note to let everyone know the Traveller's Rest Equine Elders Sanctuary's Web Site 2009 is back at

Please look around the new site when you have some leisure time. We've added new articles pertaining to feeding and managing elder horses, with more to come as they are written. Each resident will soon have his or her own page, with histories (if we know the histories,) photos, updates, and tips on dealing with health issues involved. As always, you can also find information on volunteering and ways you can help TREES care for and teach others to care for senior horses.

We hope this new site will be more dynamic than the old one, easier to navigate, but more up to date as new information on geriatric horse care becomes available. Please visit often!

Marye's AeroMask on the way!

Thank you Gene & Carol! for donating the entire amount needed to purchase an Aero Mask Equine System for Marye. Its been ordered and should be shipped tomorrow. The timing couldn't be better since Marye developed a little discomfort over the weekend (as have some of the rest of us,) probably due to the sudden appearance of loads of tree pollens. Hopefully the "Craigo Respiratory Therapy Unit" will arrive quickly!

Thank you, too, to everyone who forwarded Marye's need to other blogs and bulletin boards and to everyone who contacted us with suggestions on managing our brave little mare's symptoms. Please know that we appreciate all the ideas and support. Going ahead with the AeroMask system in no way means that we don't take seriously other ideas and modalities..........for other residents "alternative" ideas work well. For Marye, however, those alternatives have not worked well and her comfort comes first, in whatever way works best for her. Of course, we don't know what will happen with this "inhaler" either, but it sounds like a perfect option. We'll let you know what happens.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Need for Aid Urgent - Scores of Neglected Mustangs

This post is a little out of character for this blog, but the need here is enormous. Almost unfathomable.

Please don't waste your precious time and sanity trying to figure out how or why things like this happen. We'll likely never know, but......

If you can send a donation, even $5 or $10 dollars, please do. There are estimates of needing 3 tons of hay PER DAY, and vet bills are accruing as you read this. Then, add on farrier, dental, parasite control, transport off this ranch....etc etc etc.................

Scores of Neglected Mustangs Imperiled on Nebraska Ranch
Ranch Owner in Jail and Need for Aid is Urgent

Jerry Finch
Habitat for Horses

19 April 2009
Alliance, Nebraska -- At least 60 horses are dead and more than 100 others are seriously emaciated at a mustang facility in Morrill County, Nebraska. Habitat for Horses, an equine rescue organization, received reports last week of problems at the 3-Strikes Ranch. Jerry Finch of the equine rescue organization Habitat for Horses returned from flying over the property early Sunday, and reports that "The situation is even worse than we suspected." They spotted another 20 animals on the range, several barely able to stand. Another 50-100 emaciated horses are in holding pens with only a small amount of muddy and trampled alfalfa. They are suffering from a variety of ailments including severe worm infestation and terribly neglected hooves. Two young foals, approximately four months old, were found dead. Necropsies have been performed on both; a full report, including toxicology results is due back Friday.

3-Strikes Ranch, according to its web site, is a "Mustang outpost, a Non-Profit habitat to hundreds of mustangs from all over the United States, a natural environment for wild horses to run on the open prairies of the Sand Hills." Mustangs captured by the US Bureau of Land Management (BLM) that were not adopted after three attempts -- three strikers -- were sent to Jason Meduna at 3-Strikes Ranch. Meduna also accepted horses from people unable to care for their mustangs, and those in need of special training. A number of private owners who had placed horses with Meduna have already retrieved their animals. The BLM was at the facility last week and removed one of the three horses for which they currently hold title. The others were reported to be dead.

According to ranch owner Meduna more than 300 animals were living at the ranch in January. He has attributed the deaths to toxic poisoning, but to date no proof of this has been provided. Meduna is currently in jail on an animal cruelty charge stemming from the horse already removed by the BLM.

Habitat for Horses is assisting local law enforcement, the Bureau of Land Management, and a number of volunteers in caring for these animals.Hay and feed-based wormer are urgently needed. Local families are urged to contact Finch if they are able to provide tactical support for this operation. Donations for hay are being collected by Front Range Equine Rescue in Colorado. If you do not have access to Paypal you can mail donations to: Front Range Equine Rescue, P.O. Box 307, Larkspur, CO 80118. Please notate on your check and/or Paypal donations that it is for "3-Strikes Mustangs". Any and all help with hay is greatly appreciated.

~Habitat for Horses (HfH) is a not-for-profit equine protection agency committed to the prevention, rescue and rehabilitation of neglected, abused and homeless horses.
The largest organization of its kind in North America, HfH operates a rehabilitation ranch inHitchcock, Texas, as well as a growing network of foster homes throughout Texas, Oklahoma, Florida and Louisiana . The organization has taken a leadership role in horse protection issues and has been instrumental in developing and promoting legislation to eliminate the slaughter of American horses. To learn more, visit

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Traveller's Rest's new web site!


Want a peek at the new Traveller's Rest Equine Elders Sanctuary web site? We hope you will find this design less cluttered, but presenting more helpful information. We still have some detailing to do, some tweaking here and there, but the bulk of the site is ready for your perusal.

We're working on transferring the domain to the new host, so your "old" bookmarks will work but, for now, have a peek at our new home here.

Thank you to Greg Flynn and for all your help.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

WANTED! AeroMask Equine System for Marye.

Last July, we introduced you to Marye, a 28 year old mare who suffered such severe COPD that she could not eat and breathe at the same time. Given the choice between eating and breathing, Marye chose to attempt breathing. Her owners had decided to let "nature take its course" as Marye lost every spare pound, ignoring feed in her efforts to pull air in and push air out.
July 12, 2008
Our veterinarians started Marye on a course of steroids to reduce inflammation and ease her breathing. While that treatment worked, it was not ideal. Marye was more comfortable and gained weight nicely, but her breathing never returned to normal until late November, when many allergens disappeared for the winter.
August 17, 2008

Now, Marye faces another spring. In addition to the COPD, or “heaves” (somewhat comparable to asthma in humans,) this determined little mare is showing what may be symptoms of early Cushings Syndrome. If that is the case, systemic steroids are not the first choice of treatment. Cushings itself causes overproduction of natural steroids, leading to many of the common complications of the disease, such as suppressed immune systems, abnormal weight gain and a likelihood of founder.

Recently, we became aware of the The AeroMask* equine system (ES), developed by Trudell Medical International, which delivers medication directly into the lungs, rather than injecting it intravenously or into a muscle. This method of delivery is said to reduce the risk of side effects. We also hope it will be more effective since it will send medication directly where it is needed rather than dispersing it throughout the whole body.

TREES is hoping that a reader out there somewhere has a used AeroMask system (Size: Medium) they no longer need, that he or she is willing to part with at a reduced price. We’d very much like to offer this treatment to this game little mare who, last summer, had every reason to lay down and not get up, but didn't.

If you or someone you know can help give Marye a few more comfortable years, please contact TREES at , 540-972-0936, or PO Box 2260, Spotsylvania VA 22553

Marye in her Winter Woolies - February 2009

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Meet Chamberlain!

New Arrival!

Chamberlain arrived at Traveller's Rest Saturday, April 11, 2009. We don't know exact age, but his owner believed him to be in his late 30's. While appearances can be deceiving where age is concerned, late 30's is probably a pretty good estimate.

"Josh" will begin his life at TREES in a private paddock where we will get to know him and his unique needs. Later, he will be introduced to the group of horses that seems best suited to his temperament and care requirements.

If you'd like to meet Josh in person, or can volunteer some time helping him (and other TREES residents) shed winter woolies, send us an email, or call 540-972-0936 to make an appointment.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Reiki II workshop - reminder

A note from Janet Dobbs and Animal Paradise Communication & Healing:

This is a reminder that there is an Animal Reiki II (Okuden) workshop in less than two weeks. May 18, 19, 2009) The workshop will be held at TREES (Traveller's Rest Equine Elders Sanctuary) in Spotsylvania, VA. A portion of the workshop fee will be donated to TREES.

Okuden means "Inner teachings" or hidden teachings. In level two we go deeper with our self healing and practices to discover the bright light that lives within each of us. You will also learn the level two symbols and mantras and how to work with them.

Day two we will spend with the animals and begin working with your intuition.
I hope that you are having wonderful experiences with your animal friends and Reiki. Please join us for the Reiki level II class in April. Don't worry if you have not been able to get much practice. We will review what we learned in animal Reiki I.

Reiki II and Animal Reiki Training:
Saturday & Sunday, April 18 & 19, 10am - 5pm both days.
Click here for details and to register.

All my best - Janet

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

The Importance of Roughage in the Senior Horse's Diet

As a follow up to the Manurology 101 post:

The Importance of Roughage in the Senior Horse's Diet

written for Traveller's Rest Equine Elders Sanctuary by
Amanda Blanton, DVM
Rappahannock Equine Veterinary Clinic

To understand how critical roughage is to a horse’s diet, it is necessary to have a basic understanding of the horse’s gastro-intestinal (GI) anatomy and how the horse’s GI tract handles different types of feed stuffs.

A horse’s GI tract consists of the mouth, esophagus, stomach, small intestine, cecum, large colon, small colon, rectum, and anus. It takes 48 to 72 hours for feed material to pass through a horse’s entire GI tract. Each portion of the GI tract has a specific function in digestion. The mouth’s functions are prehension (acquiring feed material), mastication (chewing/breaking feed into smaller particles), and swallowing. Feed material is then transported from the mouth to the stomach via the esophagus which has no digestive function of its own.

The horse’s foregut is composed of the stomach and small intestine. Most starches, protein, fat, vitamins, and minerals found within feedstuffs are digested and absorbed by enzymes in the foregut (primarily in the small intestine). The cecum, large colon, small colon, and rectum make up the horse’s hindgut which contains micro-organisms (bacteria and protozoa) that break down dietary fiber found in roughage into usable components. These micro-organisms are present in the equine hind gut to digest fiber because horses lack the enzymes required to break down fiber themselves. Due to the horse’s innate hindgut micro-flora, roughage is a necessary component to a horse’s diet. Otherwise, the micro-environment becomes instable and indigestion, colic, diarrhea, etc. result,

Micro-flora instability and resulting indigestion and colic are also caused by rapid changes in feeding routines because the micro-organisms adjust to the new feed slowly. As a result, colic and indigestion can be prevented when changing feeds by making necessary changes slowly.

Recommendations for the amount of roughage (hay, pasture, beet pulp, etc.) required to maintain a healthy hindgut are as follows: no less than 1 percent of body weight, which is 10 pounds/day for the average 1,000 pound horse. Overfeeding concentrates, or grain, can also be detrimental to a horse’s digestive health. When too much grain is fed to a horse, most of it is digested in the small intestine, but some of the feed will spill over into the hindgut where it is rapidly digested, producing large amounts of gas and acid. This excess gas can cause discomfort and result in colic, and if the amount of concentrate consumed is severe (like in a case of grain overload), toxins are released that can result in laminitis (or founder). As a result of the consequences of overfeeding grains, it is recommended that a horse be fed no more than 1 percent of its body weight in grain per day.

Because a horse’s gut functions best when small amounts of feed are moving through it regularly (like when a horse is grazing), it is also a good idea to feed a horse small (over) meals throughout the day. The best way to achieve constant filling of the horse’s GI tract is to maximize the amount of forage being fed in the diet and to minimize the amount of grain in the diet while meeting the horse’s feed and energy requirements. In other words, making forage, or roughage, the base of the diet and supplementing with grain to provide what is lacking in the forage.

This type of forage based diet becomes more difficult when dealing with geriatric horses due to the inability of many older horses to prehend (grab) and masticate (chew) well. This difficulty is due to the normal progression of geriatric tooth wear and tooth loss. Luckily, there are many commercial diets that are “complete” feeds, meaning that they contain both concentrates and fiber. A horse’s complete nutritional needs can be met by feeding these feeds alone; however, their need for long fiber bulk is not met if these feeds are fed exclusively. As a result, horses fed these senior or complete feeds alone often have soft, unformed manure. The mechanical bulk provided in roughage allows feed material to pass through the GI tract at a rate that improves digestive efficiency and reduces the risk of colic. Some examples of feedstuffs that add the necessary long fiber bulk to the diet while being more prehendable for older horses with dental imperfections are beet pulp (soak overnight before feeding) and soaked alfalfa/timothy cubes and pellets. Most of the “complete” or senior feeds also form nice mashes when water is added, making them more prehendable and digestible for the older horse. Contact your veterinarian for specific diet options for your horse.

In addition to processed sources of roughage, all horses, unless they are suffer from a disorder where limited turn-out is required, benefit from regular pasture turn-out. Not only is turn-out and access to pasture good for their minds and bodies, it also stimulates saliva production (even if they are old and drop most of the grass or hay they prehend) which helps buffer stomach acid and reduces the incidence of equine gastric ulcer syndrome.

In summary, keep the hind gut micro-environment happy by doing the following:
--Mimic the natural constant grazing of wild horses by feeding small, frequent meals or by providing free choice hay or turn-out
--Feed 1-1.5% of a horse’s body weight in roughage per day (~10# hay/1000# horse/day)
--Feed no more than 1% of a horse’s body weight in grain per day
--Provide a forage based diet with grain/concentrate supplementation
--Make feeding changes slowly, over at least a 10 day period
--Have a good relationship with your veterinarian and discuss your horse’s specific needs with him/her

© 2009 Traveller's Rest Equine Elders Sanctuary