Feeding Program question…

Dear Dr. Dan,  First of all, I would like to thank you for your recommendation of going back to whole oats for our horses, and away from processed feeds – yes, even for my “laminitic” gelding!!

After some hesitation, I admit (as every vet/nutritionist before you had told me to stay away from ALL grains w/our laminitic guy!!!), we decided to slowly cut back on his ration balancer that he had been on for about three years and start adding a little oats just to see if we noticed any differences. I cannot begin to tell you what a dramatic change we have seen in our gelding – although “some” are telling me the oats couldn’t be the reason for these positive changes, I know differently.
This gelding NEVER grew a decent winter coat, he kept a hard crest even on small amt. of ration balancer (no grains, low starch), and every winter he developed “winter laminitis” and last winter was the worst – we thought we may lose him. That’s when I decided to try the oats, as the “no grain/low starch” theory didn’t seem to be helping!!

Within a couple months after adding some oats to his diet he started to lose the crest, start growing thicker winter coat, his eyes became brighter, he was more energetic/alert and obvious felt better, his mane/tail started growing faster and became softer and silkier….he was turning into a different horse right before our eyes!!!

And, the best thing is…by now when temps have dropped below 20 degrees he is normally in full blown laminitis…not able to hardly walk on soft ground, much less hard, frozen ground. This winter, he is not only walking on hard, peaked, frozen ground areas but gaiting across them w/out batting an eye…even easier than our other two RM’s that have never had any hoof problems!!

We cannot believe the changes in him, and of course, have now taken all of our RM’s completely off of the Ration Balancer, and they get just plain whole oats, with a vit/min supplement added, along with their grass hay and for now, some added flax. We have also eliminated all alfalfa in our hay, which we thought may have been a trigger for our gelding as well.  

Again, I thank you so much for your advice on the oats. But, I do still have a couple of questions if I may ask. First of all, I would like your opinion flax, as far as for supplementing omega 3 in diet, as our horses currently do not have access to fresh grass/pasture at this time, only their grass hay. I have been doing SO much nutrition research since putting together my own program, to make sure our guys aren’t missing anything.. Flax has always been an ingredient in all of our horse feeds for over 6 years now. So has soy, but that is one thing I do not regret taking away from their diet (another story in itself!!).

But, although I have heard such positives on flax, recently I have also been reading some negative things as well, esp. in regards to affecting thyroid function (due to phytoestrogens, such as in soy). Really concerned if flax is just the new “fad” and really going to be found not to be good for horses in due time, just like people are discovering problems with feeding soy now, when it was “the” thing to feed for years!!  

Also, I certainly understand the benefits of coconut oil for humans and animals, and have also read alot about fish oil benefits, but am concerned about oils in general…esp. soy oil…yet, I know that is an ingredient in your H2O oil. Is soy oil not dangerous like soymeal? I understand it is high in omega 6’s which can be pro-inflammatory and dangerous if not balanced with enough O-3’s. Also, I have read that horses cannot digest oils as they have no gallbladder, and that oils can block absorption of vits/mins in horses due to their lacteal ducts being clogged by feeding oils?? I know you had told me that oil would slow down absorption of grains, therefore eliminating the sugar level peaks/valleys…but if you feed low amounts of grain, and spread out feedings as well, with hay for them to eat at all times…do you really need to be concerned about adding oil?  

So, what I’m getting at is…if we feed oats, grass hay, and complete vit/min supplement…do you really need anything else? They are getting some “fat” in their whole oats, vit. E in their supplement, and the only thing I can see missing is omega 3’s – but not sure flax is the safest way to put these back into their diet?? Our guys pretty much have free choice grass hay (although we provide it in flakes throughout day to make sure they don’t overindulge, they get only 1 to 1 1/2 lbs. of oats/day total split between two feedings, and 4 oz. of a complete vit/min supplement that is high in biotin and other essential amino acids (methionine, lysine, etc.). We have been adding stabilized flax meal, in amount of only 2 oz. per horse/day…but again, are questioning if we really should be feeding flax (really safe??).  

Again, I thank you for your recommendation on the oats, and would really appreciate your opinion on the flax…if you feel it is a safe way to incorporate the omega 3’s into their diet, when lacking.  Thank you so much, Dr. Dan. Will look forward to your reply!!

Very good questions and thanks for the comments as well.
I am not fond of flax, simply because it has a tendency to go rancid quicker than other sources of omega fatty acids. This INstability alone is enough, especially since most sources are processed, ground or something. Whole flax would be the best source however, even whole flax is unstable and should be refrigerated and who knows how long it has been in the bag while being shipped etc.  
As for soy, remember that horses are not the same creature as are humans. Also remember, that there are vast differences in Soy products. Most soy products are genetically engineered or at the very least processed somehow…… meaning the “goody” is filtered out and sold elsewhere. our Weight Check oil is certified GMO free (that means not from genetic modification) Our H2Oil and our Weight Check oil are cold pressed not chemically extracted (processed). this leaves all the plant sterols, phospholipids, natural vitamin E etc. etc. Out of tens of thousands of horses on soy oil, I HAVE ONLY SEEN POSITIVE results.  I can not even handle a hypothryroid situation without the oil. You even have to have fat to burn fat.. the key is good fats. As for oils in general… IT IS THE HYDROGENATION  processing that is killing is us and our horses. See the article on fats in the magazine and listen to the audio on  “what to feed your horse” .. Our oil is the best source I have found. it is also important for reproduction and joints. I ALWAYS suggest it with oats.
I hope you will also try our Just Add Oats 2x formula to make your oats complete. Also the RED CAL instead of salt and mineral blocks. (page 21 article on salt and minerals). This is the most important healthy thing you can do for any horses health in my opinion. Red Cal is suggested free choice and available at all times.
Thanks again for asking!