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"Does This Saddle Make Me Look Fat?"

In the last few years, low-carb diets for people have been big news. Obesity and many health problems can be addressed simply by reducing the amount of carbohydrates in the diet. Now research has shown that horses can also benefit from a diet lower in non-structural carbohydrates (NSC) as well. Being overweight can cause horses to develop serious medical conditions, including laminitis, insulin resistance or diabetes, and Cushings disease. Some genetic disorders, such as polysaccharide storage myopathy (PSSM), a serious muscle disease commonly referred to as tying-up, are exacerbated by a high-NSC diet. For horses with these problems, the choice of feeds is critical, not for how they look in the saddle, but for their continued performance and good health. An ounce of prevention being worth a pound of cure, feeding the proper diet before there are problems is the most sensible course of action.

The equine digestive system is designed for 16-18 hours a day of grazing on a fiber-rich diet of grasses, brush, and herbs. Many horses are not afforded the opportunity to eat this way in the modern world. Most purchased horse feeds are high in non-structural carbohydrates, utilizing grains as their basis, and containing simple sugars such as molasses. Traditional high-fiber feeds, while lower in carbs, arenít an option for a hard-working or performance horse due to the lack of calories. Adding calories by adding fat to the diet is an option, but some types of fat are not very healthy. So what do we feed? This is where a low non-structural carbohydrate ration formulated especially to address these issues comes in.

The first and foremost requirement in the horse diet is fiber, also known as structural carbohydrates. The equine digestive system is made to digest fiber by microbial fermentation in the hindgut, with starches and sugars (NSC) digested in the small intestine. Any sugars not digested in the small intestine pass through to the hindgut, where they are undesirably broken down by fermentation, producing lactic acid. This acid changes the intestinal environment, making it inhospitable to the microbes responsible for the fermentation process. Obviously this creates problems with the all-important digestion of the fiber which makes up the bulk of the well-fed horseís diet.

In the past, lowering the amount of non-structural carbohydrates in feed meant adding fiber, which lowered the calories. But beet pulp shreds can provide high-quality fiber without a drastic reduction in calories. By removing corn, oats, and barley from the feed, and utilizing low non-structural carbohydrate ingredients such as soybean hulls, the carb content of the feed drops drastically. With the addition of healthy fats such as flaxseed for energy, feeds can be produced that are low in carbohydrates but not too low in calories. The addition of water and fat soluble vitamins, necessary minerals, biotin, and yeast to encourage microbial digestive health, are also important for the health of your horse.

Lakeland Feeds CarbSense Low Non-structural Carbohydrate Feed was developed using the latest scientific research into the benefits of this type of diet. With no alfalfa, grains, or molasses, the starch content of this feed is low, but the addition of healthy fat in the form of flax seed provides great energy, as well as beneficial Omega 3 fatty acids. CarbSense also contains biotin for healthy coat and hooves, high levels of important vitamins and minerals, and a low potassium level good for horses with Hyperkalemic Periodic Paralysis (HYPP), a genetic muscle disease. This superior formula is available in 50# bags. We welcome you to contact us with questions, or to order today!