EQUINE NEWS

People are hungry for more information on GutsOctober 2018


Story: Nicole Weidner


EquiMania! horse gut display


Pop quiz!

1) Does a horse drool at the sight of a carrot?
2) How many times does a horse chew per day when eating hay?
3) What about a pelleted diet?
4) Most importantly, do you know how the answers to these questions can help you keep your horse healthy?


Don’t know the answers to these questions? Come to the Erin Fall Fair on October 6-8th and participate in an “Interactive Journey through the Horse’s Digestive Tract” with Gayle Ecker, Equine Guelph’s director. Ecker covers these questions and more, helping participants understand how proper nutrition and management can keep a horse’s digestive system healthy and happy. The “Journey” is popular with horse lovers of all ages and allows participants the chance to see and feel the different parts of a horse’s digestive system. These parts have been cleverly designed to mimic the actual size found in the horse, but those with weak stomachs need not worry as the guts aren’t real.


Ecker’s interactive journey has been a much requested talk all year including an appearance at the 2018 Equestrian Canada conference. On the last outing, Sept 11, Ecker and her trusty bag of guts traveled to Elora’s Grand River Raceway to speak to attendees at the Eldale Veterinary Clinic’s Equine Seminar night. Participants were thoroughly entertained with props like poop balls and squishy bugs, and still gained a deeper appreciation for how the feeding choices we make can affect a horse’s health and wellbeing.


For those interested, the answers to the above questions are:

1) No, because a horse can normally only produce saliva when chewing.
2) A horse chews around 43 000 times/day when eating hay.*
3) A horse chews around 10 000 times/day when eating a pelleted diet.*
4) Saliva production (more chewing means more saliva production) is important to help move food through the digestive tract and for healthy digestion. Chew time is also important for your horse’s welfare.


To learn more about what you can do to help you keep your horse healthy, come out to the Erin Fall Fair! Can’t make the Erin Fall Fair talks, or interested in more in-depth knowledge? Sign up for Equine Guelph’s Colic Risk Rater Healthcare Tool. being offered this November.


* Elia, J. B., Erb, H. N., & Houpt, K. A. (2010). Motivation for hay: effects of a pelleted diet on behavior and physiology of horses. Physiology & behavior, 101(5), 623-627.