JARGON-FREE FACTS ABOUT THE EFFECTS OF GRASS ON NEW ZEALAND HORSES?
Just like these 2 lovely horses shown here, most horses within New Zealand, are negatively affected by grass. Thankfully it's a relatively easy fix to return these previously wired horses to their previously happy states, as shown here with Gandalf and Otto, if you know what to do.
HOW DOES GRASS CAUSE ISSUES.......
The problems occur for a lot of horses specifically with New Zealand because 99% of all NZ paddocks are
made up of PERENNIAL RYEGRASSES as
the major base grass, which unfortunately include a natural occurring fungus, that has been used by farmers as a natural mould inhibitor to reduce the
effects of invertebrate damage on the cow pasture such as insects, grass grubs, weevils etc...
Dangerously so, this means our horses are exposed daily to eating these 2 NASTY POISIONOUS TOXINS which are alkaloids and called LOLITREM B and EGOVALINE. These are a TOXIC FUNGUS that
live within the grass. They are present
in all parts of the grass, including the leaf sheaths, with their highest content being in the
seed-heads so whether your horse is eating long or short grass they are still eating toxins.
It's when the grass flourishes through a
mixture of warmer days, and then rain, like in spring or autumn (or as in 2012
for most of our year) that these toxins get completely out of control, and this tips the scales to be too much for our horses to cope with. So it's the intake of these chemicals that causes changes to take place within the horses brain and body, which effect your equines emotions too as they fight the confusion from incorrect signals coming from the brain....which all adds up to a very dangerous and unpredictable horse that could really hurt you and themselves.
JARGON BUSTER AND RESULTS......
This results in a relatively unknown condition called TOXICOSIS which is basically another term for toxin poisoning. Other
words for these toxins are MYCOTOXINS and ENDOPHYTES but it all really boils
down to the same thing-POISONS!
SHOCKINGLY SO, WE HAVE FOUND THAT MOST HORSE OWNERS, VETS AND OTHER PROFESSIONAL EQUINE PRACTITIONERS DON'T EVEN ACKNOWLEDGE OR KNOW THAT THIS CONDITION EXISTS AND THEREFORE THE HORSE IS NOT TREATED CORRECTLY FOR THIS AND IT IS EVEN OFTEN NOTED AS "NAUGHTYNESS" OR "BEHAVIOURAL PROBLEMS" WHICH WE ARE DISCOVERING IS SO OFTEN INCORRECT.
WHAT ARE THESE TOXINS IN........
There is no way out
of feeding these toxins to your horses as even living in a sand arena not eating any grass at all, will still give you a toxic horse, as they are present in 99.9% of all NZ GRASSES and GRASS PRODUCTS including:
GREEN GRASS PASTURE
HAY AND HAY BI-PRODUCTS
GRAINS AND MOST PELLETED HORSE FEEDS
DAMP FORAGE FEEDS
AND ANY OTHER GRASS BASED FOODSOURCE YOU CAN THINK OF!
Another misconception is that these toxins are no longer present in Cut Hay or Chaffs , which unfortunately is not the case :( as they do not cease to be or diminish just because
the grass has been turned into Hay or chopped in to Chaffs etc... They have grown as part of that
plant and therefore are still present in that product such as in the hay even 2-3 years
WHY DOES IT EFFECT HORSES SO BADLY.....
Unlike humans, because your horse can't vomit or doesn't chew
the cud with 4 stomachs like other stock animals including cows or sheep, this means the horse has no choice but to absorb these DANGEROUS toxins directly into his bloodstream as he eats the
effected grasses, and this is why horses can be affected so badly and why the symptoms get worse over time, as these mycotoxins build up into the horses
system as the effects are culminative.
So the more affected grasses, chaffs and hays etc...that your
equines eat, the worse the condition gets, until it is treated.
Some of you will find it very hard to even notice that your horse is affected by this as to the untrained eye the initial signs are only slight, but these can have a profound and dangerous effect on even the best trained horse and unwanted behaviour such as suddenly being resistant to being saddled, or spooking at the tiniest thing is often the first time any of you will ever question that something is wrong. Please understand that your horse is probably hallucinating and a blade of grass moving in the breeze could actually look 100m high hence why he is most likely over-reacting.
It's still not clear why some horses will go on to develop the full blown and more obvious version of TOXICOSIS which is better known as STAGGERS which can be lethal especially if your horse fatally hurts himself due to a fall or goes into toxic shock.
A plausible theory is that the worst affected horses tend to be 1st or 2nd Generation horses that are relatively recent editions to New Zealand so they have not had chance to develop any resistance to our own brand of these particular toxins, hence why some horses are more affected than others.
HOW TO TELL IF YOUR HORSE IS AFFECTED.....
These are some of first signs of this condition although not all symptoms will be present in all horses
*MILD TO MODERATE STIFFNESS IN THE HIND QUARTERS, ESPECIALLY THE THIGH AREA
*RESISTANCE TO BEING SADDLED, BEING "GIRTHY" AND DISPLAYING A SOUR FACE WHEN BEING TOUCHED ON THE SHOULDERS, FLANKS AND TORSO
*DARK & OFTEN HOODED
EYES, INCLUDING RED AND ITCHY LOOKING WHITES OF THE EYES
*FIZZY AND AMPLIFIED BEHAVIOURS
*GLAZED AND STARING EYES, OFTEN WITH RED IN THE WHITES OF THE EYES
*TENDENCY TO OVER-REACT AND SPOOK AT THINGS THAT
PREVIOUSLY NEVER BOTHERED YOUR HORSE
*RETAINING FLUID SHOWN BY SPONGY FEELING FLESH AND INCREASING TO CELLULITE TYPE LIQUID FILLED LUMPS APPEARING UNDER THE SKIN,
ESPECIALLY AT THE RUMP AREA AND SOMETIMES HIVES, THAT ARE OFTEN MIS-DIAGNOSED AS INSECT BITES OR AN ALLERGY
*SKIN TWITCHING AT IMAGINARY
*SWOLLEN LOWER LEGS WHERE THE HOOF MEETS THE
*HEAVY FOOTEDNESS AND SOMETIMES A DOPEY EFFECT
*STRUGGLES TO BACK UP LIKE THE HORSE IS UNAWARE OF HIS HIND END
*FALLING OVER THEIR OWN FEET AND MILD STUMBLING
*COUGHING, WHEEZING AND ALLERGY TYPE REACTIONS
*HORSE LOOKING AT THEIR STOMACH AND DISPLAYING MILD COLIC TYPE SYMPTOMS
*UNCHARACTERISTIC BEHAVIOUR IN GENERAL
*FIRST SIGNS OF TOXICOSIS OFTEN LOOK SIMILAR TO
LAMINITIS AND A LOT OF VETS INCORRECTLY DIAGNOSE THIS TOO
Advanced symptoms are:
*SWAYING AND FALLING OVER
*SPLAYING OF THE FRONT FEET
*MORE ADVANCED TWITCHING
*WHOLE BODY TREMORS
*COLIC TYPE SYMPTOMS INCLUDING KICKING AT THE STOMACH AND
*AND EVEN DEATH
SO HOW CAN WE CONTROL THIS . . . . . .?
Firstly we cannot NOT feed our horses these toxins and
even re-sewing pastures has only had limited success as the ryegrass often
returns back to invade as it's extremely hardy. whereas "safe horse grasses" don't tend to do well with our hot summers.
It's a pretty easy fix with the correct treatment, as the only real solution to this is to use a quality TOXIN BINDER which works basically like a cloak on the toxins themselves-you
feed this to your horse daily mixed with a little dampened chaff and as the horse eats the toxin a YEAST CELL WALL wraps
itself around that toxin like a preventative barrier and stops the horses body
absorbing any negative effects of the poison itself .......and then it's passed with the manure harmlessly.
We feed a quality toxin binder daily all year
around and increase this at peak danger times.
Shockingly we discovered through our own research that HARDLY ANY of the
toxin binders on the NZ market are actually clinically proven products that have been researched scientifically to work, therefore we advise against
spending heaps of money on these as their effects can vary-plus we get very fed up
of high corporate companies taking advantage of worried horse owners who are
trying to help their horses and blatantly just profiteering from this.
So it's for these reasons that we have developed our own broad spectrum, affordable and effectiveTOXIN BINDER to add to our other affordable NATURAL ORGANIC MINERAL MIX also available as a complete formula now combined into our ALL IN 1 MIX , which includes all the essential minerals your horse needs for optimum health and sanity. Both are natural products that work well in providing safety from the effects of these dangerous toxins as well as A BROAD SPECTRUM OF ESSENTIAL MINERALS including:
Magnesium, Calcium, Selenium, Copper, and hundreds more trace minerals to benefit your horse -see our shop page for more info.
We know our mix works as we have seen the positive results on our rescue horses who have so often arrived to us with this condition and are the reason we know so much about Mycotoxins effects in the first place.
In addition to using a quality toxin binders, we
advise also to try to restrict the amount of time your horse spends on green
pastures anyway, as no matter how short the grass is it still causes problems in
addition to TOXICOSIS which are mainly the over production of sugars.
I know that it's hard to believe that leafy green grass is full of sugars but it honestly is, which is why a
1000kg draft horse can live off the stuff in the first place!
Therefore just like children living off sweets, your horse will behave negatively
to a high sugar diet, which can also lead to conditions like insulin resistance
and LAMINITIS, which can be fatal and excruciatingly painful for the horse
WHAT IS LAMINITIS-well the best way to get your head around this condition is to think of it like this-YOUR HORSE IS A DIABETIC which means sugar will make him very ill and possibly even kill him AND GRASS IS A BIG FIELD FULL OF SUGARY LOLLIES!
So if you have a horse living on full time grass
it's perhaps time to re-think your grazing strategies, because as you are now hopefully aware, it's not just small fat ponies
who have problems on it?
Personally if I had my way I would kill every
last blade of Ryegrass off within every horse pasture and graze on a dry pasture with hay. . .but we all
have to have dreams hey-lol:)
I genuinely hope this article will help all horse owners out there and if you are having grass issues with your horses please feel free to contact me as I am always happy to help in anyway possible as it's always about the horse for me.
May all your horse days be happy ones :)
Please note this advice is not intended to be used in replacement as a professional veterinary examination or care of any sick or injured horse and therefore NATURAL HORSE NZ will not be responsible for any illness or injury to your equine for you failing to seek the correct medical assistance thereof.