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Purina Feed Lecture at Franklin Horse Supply


by Allison Rehnborg(photos by Ryan Rehnborg)

If there’s one thing all horse owners have in common, it’s the ability to ask questions. And when it comes to proper equine nutrition, there are a lot of questions to ask. That’s why Rusty Bane, animal nutrition specialist with Purina, opened his lecture on May 14 at the Kubota - Franklin Horse Supply store in Franklin, Tenn., with some questions about equine nutrition and feed.

According to Bane, there’s one question he gets asked more than any other: does feeding a high-protein diet make a horse’s behavior “hot”? The answer is no. As a general rule, there are three sources of energy in a horse’s diet: carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. While horses can use protein as a source of fuel, they typically have to burn calories in order to successfully convert it to energy – which makes it an inefficient source, at best.

 “Horses will only use protein as a last resort if they don’t have enough fats, starches, sugars, and fibers in their diet,” Bane said. “We’re not concerned with excess protein. As long as a horse is getting enough of it, he can excrete the [excess] in his urine. The only time you need to worry about that is [when] getting a build-up of ammonia in your stalls, which research has shown can cause lung problems.”

Bane explained that protein deficiency is actually a bigger problem than excess protein. Common symptoms of protein deficiency include depressed appetite, poor hair coat, poor hoof growth, and poor overall growth. Horses with a protein deficiency can start using up the protein in their own muscles in order to compensate, which can lead to weak top-lines and muscle loss.

Another popular question that Bane addressed involved the use of low-carbohydrate diets for horses. Many people have benefited from the use of the Atkins diet, which has led some individuals to wonder whether horses need a low-carbohydrate diet.

 “A lot of good research has come out that [indicates] a low starch and sugar diet could be desirable for horses,” Bane said. “But horses need a certain amount of energy for life functions, and carbohydrates – including fiber – are a source for that. What’s one nutrient we know our horses have to have? Fiber. We have to feed fiber, so we have to feed carbohydrates. It’s critical. So when we talk about low-carb diets, we need to focus on starch and sugar.”

Not all horses need a low-carb diet, but there are horses with special needs, such as insulin resistance, polysaccharidge storage myopathy, and other metabolic issues, that could benefit from a diet low in starches and sugars. That’s why Purina sells WellSolve L/S, a low starch and sugar diet formulated for special needs horses.
Bane continued his seminar by showcasing a few of Purina’s new products, including Hydration Hay, ElectroEase, HydraSalt, and Freedom Flex.

Hydration Hay is a hay product made up of timothy and alfalfa that has been compressed into two-pound blocks. For feeding, the hay block should be broken up and then allowed to soak. As the hay block soaks, it absorbs up to nine pounds of water, making it a great source of fiber and hydration for the horse. Each block is equal to about one flake of hay.

Purina ElectroEase is an electrolyte complex designed to replace a horse’s electrolytes in the proportions typically lost through sweat. Some electrolyte compounds tend to have low palatability and can irritate ulcers in the stomach, but ElectroEase uses a microbead technology which coats each particle in oil. The oil makes the compound more palatable and also keeps it from dissolving in the stomach until it can reach the small intestine, where most vitamins and minerals are absorbed.

Purina’s new salt supplement, HydraSalt, utilizes microbead technology as well. Since salt can irritate ulcers in the stomach, HydraSalt’s particles are coated in oil to ease digestion and increase palatability. HydraSalt also has a minty flavor, which can help boost intake in horses that dislike the taste of salt.

Finally, Freedom Flex serves as a joint health product, which can help improve mobility in performance horses and senior horses.

Kubota - Franklin Horse Supply will host a seminar featuring HB Properties on June 11 at 6 pm. Dinner will be provided. For more information, check out

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