No Sweat! (blog)
I mean, no sweat, as in your horse has stopped sweating. But, of course, you will never know what I’m talking about for anyone in the latitudes where it never gets above 85 degrees F or the humidity is moderate.
I wish I had a picture of the first horse I had known with anhydrosis (the medical term for non-sweating). The horse looked like an alligator with only the head, face, and nostrils above the pond water while the body remained below the surface. More common are the horses standing in front of fans, nostrils flared, rib cage heaving as they struggle to stay cool without the benefit of the cooling effect of evaporating moisture from their skin.
As a vet student at Cornell, not much about this condition of horses was known. Little was written about it. However, treatments spread about the horse world with anecdotal evidence of their effectiveness. Guinness Extra Stout ale, other dark ales, and beer are all common remedies. Acupuncture, the Equi-Patch, 1AC, misting fans, Ventipulman (albuterol), and prostaglandin injections all have reports of working to some degree in some horses.
Some Degree – Some Horses
No one has determined why some horses in the same environment stop sweating while others do sweat, but we know that every horse is different with different responses to triggers. And no one (to my knowledge) has determined the mechanism behind anhydrosis.
Accidentally we have found a cure that seems to work in every horse we try it with, and we need your help to give us more examples of this treatment’s success. But, unfortunately, it is August, and it is hot. Will you help us figure this out?
Research has shown that if you add the temperature in Fahrenheit with the % humidity and the sum is greater than 185, there is a good chance your horse will have diminished sweat. However, they did not relate this observation to their diet and did not use Celcius. For example, a 90-degree day with 95% humidity = 185. This conclusion is from an observational study, so there is some variability, just as my observation that horses resolve their anhidrosis when removing grain and grain byproducts (including ALL treats and supplements).
Most of you know we are not big fans of feeding grain to any horse. These grains include corn, oats, wheat, or any seeds (flax, chia, sunflower) and especially the byproducts (wheat middlings, rice bran, oat hulls, sugar beet pulp and others), which are inconsistent in nutritional value and are very inflammatory in most horses. As we convinced horse owners that grains and byproducts cause inflammation in the gut with unwanted behavioral events, we also heard that some non-sweating horses started to sweat. We need more numbers to confirm this, so if your horse isn’t sweating (to any degree), please try this and tell us.
What To Do
Step one – stop feeding your horse all grain, carrots, sugar, treats and red trace mineral salt licks (sugar). Instead, only feed pasture, hay (grass or legume), mined salt and water. NOTHING ELSE. Adding a handful of hay pellets or hay cubes to a bucket at “feeding time” is allowed.
Step two – wait about four days while continuing this simple diet of grass, hay, salt, and water. If the experience is true, your horse will start to sweat about day three and fully sweat by day 4 (assuming no cold front comes on).
Step three – report back your results in the forum.
I must assume that digestive tract inflammation, leaking gut and general malaise are behind anhydrosis; I would like to understand the physiological principles behind this but as a horseman, getting effective treatment is what counts. If horses start to sweat after removing grain and other common simple sugars, all the other benefits might also be worth considering.
If your horse shows one or more of the following, there may be grain intolerance and gut inflammation.
- Chronic poor body condition (thin) despite feeding large amounts of grain
- Chronic spasmodic (non-surgical) colic
- Squirts or dribbles fecal matter when defecating – stains the stall wall
- Girthiness (shifts feet, swishes tail, puffs up)
- Uncomfortable being brushed
- Unwilling or difficult behavior on the ground or while ridden
- Bucking or hopping when moving into the trot or canter
- Reluctance to load into a trailer or difficulty when trailering
- Non-sweating to any degree
All of these were resolved in horses by taking the two-week no-grain challenge. Learn more about grain problems at Why Horses Should Not Be Fed Grain. Then, take the 2-week no-grain challenge with your non-sweating horse and post the results. No harm in this and no cost either. You can’t lose though your horse might sweat a bit.
There are 268 comments below! Reading them will help you gain more information. The comments are closed, but members can still report their results in the forums. Thanks in advance! – Doc T
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Hi Doc T!
I stumbled upon your site a couple of weeks ago and decided to try this out with my new rescue who is a non-sweater and a recently off the track TB. I had him on grain and omega oils when I first got him (about 2 months ago). He is under muscled and I have not worked with him off the ground since I got him, as he came to me with a nasty heel bulb injury. I am in Florida and am very concerned about his longevity here if I can’t find something that works soon!
I’ve kept a journal for him since I started him on only soaked alfalfa cubes (about 3.5 quarts 2x a day), free choice orchard and alfalfa, and 24/7 bahia pasture, and a plain salt block. We are on day 7 of no grain and he has only sweat twice (when it was quite cool! Once in the morning and once in the evening). He is still needing to be hosed off once a day and is huffing and puffing between 10am and 7pm… Am I doing something wrong??? Any suggestions?
Hi Autumn – I live in south FL too and it is very hot here. If you add the temperature in F with the percent humidity and the sum is 180 and above, most horses will stop sweating. An example is 95 degrees x 90% humidity = 185.
With this in mind, then your horse sweating on these cooler days is a good sign that your horse will start to sweat once reasonable weather returns (October). Remember that if you horse has had gut inflammation for a long time (the horse is older) then it will take longer to have sweating return to normal. Please also remember that horses will make their “omega oils” from the short chain fatty acids made by the gut bacteria from cellulose. To understand this more please read those blogs or enroll in the nutrition course. Most oils as a rule are inflammatory to the gut and bind to LPS molecules that pass through the gut wall.
Please be patient and stay the course. Consider adding soybean meal as a HIGH QUALITY protein source to help him return to optimum health. Doc T
Hi . I’ve been reading your blog and want to do your grain free challenge. Foxy Tonight is 25 yo OTTB adopted from rescue 5 yrs ago at age 20. She stopped sweating in July 2017 and starts back up every year on Oct when Va Beach VA humid weather stops. We started on One AC 2017 and did nothing. She started sweating in Oct 2017.
March-April 2018 started One AC before she stopped sweating, delayed it by a couple weeks but stopped again same 2019 stops sweating July and starts back up in Oct. This year 2020 still sweating but we’re are mid July. She is still active used in lessons, comes in 8-9 am goes out currently 3-4 pm but prior years, turned out 6 pm or later.
Fed 1.5 scoops Purina Sr Active 2x day
1.5 tab Equioxx 1x day
3-4 flakes straight 2nd cut Orchard
**Was feeding all prior years but this year
1-2 flakes alfalfa
No issues w ulcers, girthyness, but her hair loss associated w not sweating looks like mange case!
No supplements other than Himalayan salt block.
She is night turnout year round
She looks good shiny coat etc and good weight currently but again still sweating so far.
She does need to have some teeth removed due to bone absorbing the teeth. Trying to hold off till fall. She has always been a sloppy eater/drops feed and teeth regularly done.
Any feedback helpful.
Most people feed a “Senior” feed because 1) their horse looks good and 2) they assume the older horse needs a special food. I have looked everywhere for senior feeds for squirrels, birds and humans but there is none. It is only made for horses. Could this be a marketing gimmick?
I recommend removing all grains for all horses unless they are plowing fields and are not getting enough energy. This is how grains were introduced to horses when the plow horses were overworked to supply the food for the ever-expanding city populations during the industrial revolution. However the calvary who rode hundreds of miles never brought grain with them.
I have developed a hypothesis about grain as the cause of EOTRH of the incisor teeth (the resorption you talk about). Here is the blog: https://theequinepractice.com/what-is-the-cause-of-eotrh-in-horses/ and another about removing the incisors here: https://theequinepractice.com/speechless-in-a-case-of-eotrh-in-a-horse/
I do not see a high quality protein source in you feeding list. almost all horses I see have chronic protein deficiency. I have many blogs on this and a nutrition course available to help you understand haw feeding grain every day will cause muscle loss. Many horse owners agree to remove all grain from the horse’s diet but when they do, the body fat loss reveals a poor top line. What is seen here is the chronic protein deficiency but many horse owners are shocked and return the horse to grain to cover it up again with fat.
You have a 25 year old mare that seems to look good and is doing her job without complaint. Yet there are signs of inflammation in that she stops sweating when the temperature (in F) added to the humidity (without the percent) is 180 or above. (example 95 degrees + 90% humidity = 185). The other sign of inflammation is the EOTRH. You also say a “good shiny hair coat” that “looks like mange.” You also say she is in “good weight” which usually means she has a good fat cover.
At 25 it is not too late to help with removing the inflammatory ingredients and to add high quality protein. This will help her continue to be an asset to your riding program. Please take the time to read ALL the nutrition blogs, enroll in the nutrition course and join the private Facebook group “The Horse’s Advocate” for all the information about how to feed horses for health. No agenda here where I try to sell you a supplement. Just trying to help all horses thrive in a human world.
I have an Anglo “Magic” that is 19 years old. He foundered at 11 and was found to be Insulin resistant. We soak his hay and use all low sugar feeds. His sugar levels have remained low since soaking his hay. At 17 is was determined that he has cushings also, and we added Prascend (Pergolide). Within 2 months he needed major colic surgery and moved him home. He has been on Neigh Lox and Smart Digest Ultra pellets (Smartpak) for years due to all the meds he takes. He currently takes Isoxsuprine, cyproheptadine (for head shaking syndrome), and Prascend. After his colic surgery he stopped sweating. We thought it was due to all the meds for the colic surgery. We added Platinum Refresh and acupuncture and got him sweating again somewhat normally. We figured it was in the past. We live in Arizona and it is pretty dry. This past summer he stopped sweating again when it became humid and lows did not drop below 80 degrees. We quickly added Refresh and did acupuncture. It helped to some degree, but he had to live under misters and fans for all of July and August. He sweats pretty well all winter until the humidity changes and the lows don’t go below 80 degrees. I am trying to be proactive before it gets hot and see if anything will help him sweat besides large amounts of Refresh. I am considering pulling him off all grain products (Wellsolve, Outlast, Enrich) but am worried about all the meds on his stomach. He only gets soaked Bermuda grass hay and a small amount of Ontario Dehydrated cubes (guaranteed below 10% NSC). What is the best way to ensure his stomach does not get upset without Wellsove etc? I am not sure I could get the meds down him without grain. It is not really an option to pull him off any of the meds at this point. I have read through a lot of the posts and did not see anyone who had their horse an as many meds as Magic is on. Thanks for any help in advance.
A message to everyone reading this – never alter medications for your horse without the help and advice from your local vet. This said, you also need to realize that what you have been feeding this horse has given you exactly what you have. All bodies (horses or human) react to what they live in including their food. Continuing to feed what you feed coupled with the “epigenetics” of this horse (how his genes respond to these factors) are giving you the results you see.
I far as I can see there is no downside to removing all grains other than fat loss. No grain has less sugar than any grain (low starch or not) so removing grain will help with the IR and laminitis. As a side effect it has also helped horses to sweat again. In high temp and high humidity it takes longer in some horses but overall they do better than when on grain.
Adding soybean meal (SBM) will give the needed amino acids to strengthen the hooves and possibly resolve the Cushing’s disease. It has in many horses. Please read the several blogs on protein. If worried, just add a handful at first and work it up over a week or two to 1 pound per day per 1200 pound horse.
Removing excess sugar (starch / glucose) will help to eliminate the inflammation and adding the SBM will give back the lost amino acids. To understand this be sure to read all the blogs or take the nutrition course. Once the horse starts to feel better and repair himself then with the help of your vet, you may find that a lot of these problems resolve.
Back in 1980 when I was in vet school there was only 1 paragraph discussing non-sweating and there was no such thing as a head shaker. Hmm…. Wonder what has changed since then? Let’s go to the feed room and think about that.
I am from Darwin Australia. It is our Wet Season at the moment , so high temperatures and high humidity. my daughter’s TB mare stopped sweating today and I am going to follow your diet as I have seen the results in my friend Teresa’s TB gelding Joey and have been very impressed. Up until today Abbie had been sweating but after a two week spell, the first ride back she only had a tiny bit of sweat, by the afternoon, she was really struggling, no sweat at all, puffing, dilated nostrils and trying to find relieve her distress leaving the herd to stand under trees ( which she never does). After 40 minutes under a fan, with cooling towels, she was no longer hot to the touch. I decided then to try up your diet. Teresa has given me a run down on what to feed and I have read all the comments above so I feel armed with enough knowledge to proceed. I will keep you posted to how things go
Thanks – please return with the results.
There was a study where the temperature in degrees Fahrenheit added to the percent humidity (without the percent decimal) gave a number that when above 180 produced anhidrosis in most horses. So 90 degrees plus 90 (%) humidity = 180. It was something like this. Anyone wanting to correct or substantiate this?
It seems like when your temp and humidity achieved highs your horse was triggered not to sweat. What we are finding is that when horses are off grain this threshold goes higher. So even some horses now sweating by removing the grain will struggle with high temp and humidity – at least in the year they go grain free. No one has reported back a year or two later to say the threshold is now so high they their horse always sweats. Maybe you can add a note for a year from now to report back.
I just wanted to let you know that Abbie, my daughter’s TB finally started sweating on day 15 of lucerne hay, Lucerne chaff and paddock grass ( not much feed quality here). We put misting fans in her stable and on fence line to help her and this certainly kept her cool during the hottest parts of the day. She appears to be sweating well now and we will try riding her tomorrow to see how she copes. We started her on soya meal yesterday, but the full fat one, which is the only one available in Darwin, yesterday. However she has lost a lot of condition so just wanted to know what we can start feeding to put weight on? My daughter is so happy. That her horse is sweating again.
Thank you Jane for this update. It is too bad that the oil has not been extracted from the soybeans. But SBM also needs to be cooked to deactivate the trypsin inhibitor enzyme and I’m not sure if that can be done with the oil in it. Please keep looking for accurately made soybean meal. Ask others in your area if they are feeding this full fat SBM and what results are they getting. If trypsin inhibitor is still present in the meal then the enzyme trypsin found in the stomach will not be able to digest the protein in the SBM leading to it being ineffective.
Please update us on this when you can.
I have checked and the full fat soya meal is cooked to remove trypsin inhibitor. I will let you know how things go.
Can you feel coastal? We have a round bale in the winter the horses share. We are in the north florida area.
I “feel” coastal anytime I’m in FL! LOL.
There are many who avoid feeding coastal hay for fear of impaction yet there are an equal number of horses fed coastal without any problems. In my mind I think there is a dysbiosis in the gut where the gut microbes are unable to digest the cellulose of that type of grass. The result is an impaction. But in reality the problem is not the hay. Unfortunately no one has looked at the git lining, the microbe environment or correlated the other feeds given to the horse that colics on coastal. If you have a spare million dollars, lets start a study…
Im not feeling a million in my pocket right now, lol. The horses ate it. Im moving my horse to no grain and timothy alfalfa pellets. Ill let you know how it goes.
FYI for Teresa – my horse loves the roasted peanuts in a shell. I also use them one at a time to do his stretching to the hip exercises which used to be done with a carrot or sweat treat. He loves his peanuts! We have been doing the No Grain since summer (in Florida) and even in October and November when he was in training in Ft. Lauderdale with very high humidity, there was absolutely no problem and plenty of sweating!!
Just wondering if you got my last post?
I see only 1 post from you which I have answered.
Hi, I am based in Darwin Australia and am about to try my 8yo TB on the no grain diet. I bought him in April of this year (from a state with a cooler climate), he has always been a great sweater, however about 2-3 week ago it just decreased dramatically and i noticed he had the puffs. I have set up a misting and fan system in his stable which keeps him cool during the day, but i want something more than just treating the symptoms. I am a little confused by some of the terminology here, so i have some questions before i start the diet.
Is alfalfa like lucerne hay? Essentially a legume (dark green) hay?
What are hay pellets? do you mean what we would call a biscuit of hay (being the hay bale is made up of 8 -10 biscuits of hay)?
Currently my horse is on a diet of wheaten chaff, lucerne chaff, and a number of Hygain premixed feeds as well as a pangola hay / humidicola hay (which is i suppose i like a grass hay). He also has a supplement for just about everything! I joke that federal police are going to arrest me for the number of packages that contain white powder that turn up at my house!
My plan is to feed the following for the next two weeks and monitor the change:
– unlimited access to pangola hay;
– access to pasture (although there is very little pasture of any value in the paddocks at the moment) and humidicola hay
– biscuit of lucerne hay each day;
– a mix of wheaten chaff and lucerne chaff at feed times (so he doesn’t think he is dying); and
– salt added to the hard feeds.
The following supplements i’d like to keep him on, but happy to hear your comments before i decide:
– Sweat up (made by mitavite, especially to encourage sweating, not sure if this is similar to AC one)?
– Cosequin – supplement for some joint issues caused by a medial lateral imbalance (which is being addressed); and
– pentosan (vet prescribed for early signs of arthritis)
Since starting the sweat up, i have seen some improvement, mild sweating under the mane, but not the shoulder or back sweating of the good days.
I really appreciate your feedback and input, so i can start the grain free diet, There are a number of other horses at my stable with similar issues, although they are worried about going to a grain free diet because their horses aren’t carrying as much weight. My horse could afford to lose a few kilos!
Apologies for the long winded post, and thanks in advance.
Howdy Teresa (that’s Hello in southern USA) – lol
Lucern is what the Australians and the British call alfalfa. It is the same legume.
Hay pellets are where forage (all kinds) are made into hay and then ground into a powder and then formed into a pellet. The pelleting machine produces the pellet using various processes including pressure, adding a lubricant (food grade oil) or spraying the pellet with a binder to prevent crumbling. Hay cubes are when the hay is chopped into small bits and then pressed through a machine and extruded into a square form (about 1 inch or 2 ½ cm on each side) that varies in length (usually about the same length as width which is a cube). Friction keeps the cubes from falling apart.
What you call a biscuit is what we call a flake, a section, a wafer or a pad. When hay is baled into a square bale, the baling machine bites the dried hay from the wind row and ingests it into the machine. This forms the section in the bale. Then the machine folds these sections together and after a set number are taken in, the machine ties them into a bale. Round bales are also done this way but the sections are not segmented or folded but is more of a continuous process.
Chaff is the same here but is not generally used to feed horses. We instead call the stuff found on the floor of the empty hay mow the chaff. We sweep it up and either feed it to the horses or throw it out. If hay is chopped and bagged and sold it is called “chopped hay.”
Feeding chaff from wheat (wheaten chaff) is not common here. In stead, hay made from wheat is called wheat straw and is used for bedding horses. They prefer grass and legume hay and will usually not eat the wheat straw unless they are very hungry. Oat, rye and barley are also made into straw though oat straw can be fed to horses (making their manure yellow). Straw, by definition, has had the grain removed while hay has not.
Pangola is not common in the US but my friend from the Dominican Republic has explained to me that it is a common tropical grass well tolerated by horses. Humidicola is a tropical grass known by many names throughout the world and is used as animal forage in poor soil areas.
The Hygain premixed feeds have inflammatory ingredients (from the ingredient labels online). In addition they have an article (The truth about pasture only diets revealed!) that I disagree with. The gut microbes, when healthy, make all the vitamins (except D) and supplementing with vitamins are unnecessary unless there is a specific vitamin deficiency. Minerals should be absorbed from water, mined salt and forage and are regulated by the horse’s chelation process. Adding chelated minerals bypasses this regulatory process if in fact the chelated minerals remain chelated after the acid and trypsin enzyme in the stomach.
To get your horse sweating, try feeding only pasture and grass hay with the biscuit of lucern, water and mined salt. Be sure the salt is from a mine (Himalayan for example) and not just sodium chloride or with additives such as molasses. Eliminate the chaff as this and hay are the same. After a week of forage, water and salt only (no treats) observe how he is doing especially in the sweating department. Then add in a protein source such as soybean meal. It is a lack of protein that is making this horse hungry (not satiated) requiring you to add the chaff. See my protein blogs. They are not really “hungry” but rather they are looking for something not in what they are being fed. The diet you are suggesting has very little protein and does not give him all the essential amino acids. The supplements you are feeding are expensive and have inflammatory ingredients. An 8 yr old should not have arthritis unless the joint has been injured. Removing all inflammatory ingredients is the best way to remove joint inflammation (proven in humans and seen by many people moving their horses to a no grain diet). Adding protein will help to repair the injured joint as all connective tissues are proteins. Joint fluid is a medium chain sugar (oligosaccharide) but feeding joint supplements are really just binding to the inflammatory lectins in the diet removing them before they can invade the gut wall and travel to the joints (again from human medicine). Getting the gut healthy restores normal joint function.
Go 2 weeks on forage, water and mined salt only. After this if you feel the need to go back on any supplement, add only 1 at a time and wait to see if there is a change worth spending your money on. After all, living in fear of the federal police showing up…. That can be a lot of stress for you!
Thank you so much for your information. I cannot thank you enough.
Since 1 Jan 2020 we have been on what i am calling the Hay only diet, but is essentially Lucerne hay, pangola hay and then two hard feeds of chopped hay (both lucerne and wheaten). He acts as though he might die if don’t put something in the feed bin at night and morning, and the chopped hay wet with water is a good way to ensure he eats all the salts i am putting in. I will need to check the salt brand as it has been transferred out of the original packaging, but it is rock salt.
I have cut out the sweat up, Cosequin, hoof supplement and all other feeds. He remains on the pentosan with a once monthly injection (he has poor joint confirmation and the x-rays have showed some arthritis developing, i assume because he was raced until he was seven and has suffered some injuries during that time).
He continues to be under a misting system and fan during the day (this means he has developed a but of rain scald on his hind, but nothing unmanageable.
After day 3-4 i noticed that he started to sweat little under the mane, although i wasn’t sure if it was the misting system keeping his mane slightly damp. He went out for a run in the paddock with another horse (and by run i mean they ran around like idiots for 5-10 mins) when i got him i noticed sweat further down the neck as well. I’ve been avoiding working him, other than walks to the beach for a quick swim. On Wednesday this week, i had a schedule lesson which i decided to do, it was going to be overcast and bit cooler at about 33 degrees Celsius. I literally almost cried when i looked down at his neck and saw all the sweat!! He was sweating from ears to withers down is neck, all down his shoulders and then it was continuing under the saddle cloth and onto the legs! He used to be a massive sweater before these issues, normally my saddle blanket would be soaked. My instructor was so surprised at the difference in one week.
Now i can start riding again i will add some protein into his feed, i’m keen to stay off as many supplements as i can although i will need to add back in some minerals (like calcium) as many of the grasses and hays here are oxalate blockers. I will research was soybean meal and see what i can find, i haven’t fed it before and its not really common here.
Thank you again and again! I will provide another update at 2 weeks!
Thank you for this complete report. It will help others throughout the world. While the absolute reason why horses stop sweating is still uncertain, it is apparent that gut inflammation from inflammatory ingredients has something to do with it along with high temperatures combined with humidity. Can you add to this the humidity on the 33 degree day?
We all look forward to your future updates.
For those still living in the imperial world, 33 C = 91.4 F 😉
Day 14 update!
I pleased to report that the increased sweating continues and i would even go so far as to say it is back to normal. I had a lesson on Sunday afternoon, it was again a cooler overcast day, about 33 degrees Celsius with a relative humidity of about 80% (very comfortable for riding). He sweated well in the float on the way to the lesson and by the end of a 45 min lesson, mostly trotting with some canter work at the end, the sweat was dripping down his shoulders.
Yesterday he spent the first day in the herd (so not misting fan in the stable). It was an overcast day again and probably cooler (around 31 degress with 91% RH) . There was plenty of sweating, no puffing and he was generally happy. I was even confident enough to put a lightweight mosquito sheet on him tonight to stop the bites (something i wouldn’t have even thought was possible two weeks ago).
I have had so many comments about how well he is sweating, a few others at the stables who had to send there horses south to a cooler climate over the wet season are keen to try the diet on their return. I have noticed a significant improvement in the shine in his coat, it is softer and more chestnut in colour. He is much happier in his demeanor when being ridden and generally quieter . He does not appear to have dropped any weight or lost any topline, nor have is energy levels decreased.
I have purchased soybean meal to add into his feed slowly, and i plan to keep the supplements out at this stage (except the pentosan injections). We still have a few good months of the wet season to go and i will update if there are any significant changes.
Sincerely and from the bottom of my heart, thank you, thank you, thank you! My horse Joey really is a family horse and my husband and children were all as upset as i was seeing Joey in distress and struggling to cool himself.
For anyone in Australia that might be considering a similar diet, he is currently on pangola hay, humidicola hay, lucerne hay. He is then getting 3/4 of a 20 litre bucket morning and night of lucerne chaff, wheaten chaff and rock salt (three heaped table spoons). I plan to add the soybean meal bit by bit until we reach about 450 grams per day.
He is missing the carrots though – he is very dissapointed when there is nothing in my pockets!
thank you again!
You are so welcome! But the gratitude is from me to you for trying this and trusting me. Thank YOU!
For a treat, have you tried a peanut in the shell? Roasted and salted is fine. Feed just 1 at a time.
Hi Dr. T,
I am very interested in trying your approach to anhydrosis. I will give you a quick summary of his details.
I have had him since Jan 2017. When i first got him, he was just retired from racing at 6yrs old and a stallion and seemed to be sweating normally. I had him gelded and he would not eat any treats (mostly carrots i was offering), so i started making him oat treats with molasses and honey. He loves them! Suddenly i noticed that he had stopped sweating as before. We live in Barbados and it is very hot and dry. I have tried one ac, fans and he is suffering.
I will start your protocol tomorrow. Can he have alfalfa pellets as the pasture hay is not that good right now? We do have hay, but i am not sure how good the quality is. I will also get him a himalayan salt block.
I will let you know how it goes, here is hoping this will work as he is the most amazing horse 🙂
Looking forward to hearing about your results. I don’t think the alfalfa pellets will be a problem as long as you feed no more than about 4 pounds a day (equivalent to 1 flake). However if you don’t get the results then temporarily remove the pellets as there may be some hidden ingredients in them such as a binder (they use several and are not required to list them).
My TB has been doing much better he is no longer huffing and puffing and dipping his head in the water bucket. He seems more comfortable.
He is currently on 4lbs alfalfa pellets, 1lbs soya bean meal and grass which is of poor quality . He has a himalayan salt block also.
I find he is a little thin across his hindquarters and neck and would like him to put in some weigh . What would you suggest to add or adjust to put some weight on?
Looking forward to hearing from you..I hope you are well during this strange time.
Thanks for this update. The top line improves starting from the croup and moves forward over time. This muscle building requires time – from 6 to 12 months depending on the age of the horse and how severe the muscle loss is.
In humans, the muscles are regenerated every 6 years. Assuming this is true in horses, then every 6 years the top line is replaced. However, when the building materials are not available (low protein sources containing branched chain amino acids leucine, isoleucine and valine) AND when amino acids are being converted into sugar (any grain and inflammatory diet) then this regeneration cannot occur. The result is a loss of top line and other protein structures (hooves, neurotransmitters, enzymes, immune complexes, etc) in 6 year increments. Race horses with extreme wear and tear being fed high grain diets will have broken connective tissue by 6 years. Horses worked later in life will show signs of chronic protein deficiency (lost top line, poor hooves, hay belly, unsoundness, etc) around 12 years. At 18 years we can add to this list Cushing’s (a neurodegenerative disease treated with a neurotransmitter replacement). At 24 years most horses just look old, are lame, are sick or any combination of this. Between 24 and 30 most horses die not looking or feeling young at all.
The bottom line is to be patient. Now that you have removed the inflammation and have added in all the essential amino acids with the soybean meal the regeneration will begin. The first evidence of muscle replacement is usually the loss of the hay belly. Slowly the hind quarters will fill in and this will move towards the withers and shoulders. In senior horses the masseter muscles (cheeks of the jaw) will fill in as well. You are on the right path.
Remember to NOT CONFUSE “weight” with muscle and fat. Most horse owners wanting to see “weight” add inflammatory ingredients which will add fat which just starts the loss of muscle. Eating summer pasture will also add fat but when this is gone and hay (LAST SUMMER’S GRASS) is limited or eliminated through the winter then the horse will lose fat but retain muscle. This recovery therefore may take several years to fully happen. Each day, though, will bring improvement on the cellular level. Be patient, you can’t rush this.
Thank you for your comments. Very interesting re the muscle regeneration. My gelding is 9 years old and hasn’t been ridden much in the last 2 year . I am now starting back riding him 3 to 4 days a week, so hopefully that will help with his muscle as well.
I am happy to hear that what I am feeding him is adequate and to be patient. Thanks again for your wealth of knowledge. I wish I had known this when I had my last horsr who was also a non sweater and I gave him loads of carrots as treats :
I am in Central FL and have 2 OTTB mares. Lacy is 5 and has moved from CA to GA to FL in the last year. Haddie is 15 and moved from OK 3 years ago. Both were on 3 pounds of Triple Crown Senior/day. In August, both horses started shutting down, Lacy more than Haddie and she was heaving so badly that she would just stand in her stall with 2 fans. I tried the no grain challenge on both girls and am happy to report that 5 weeks later, both horses are sweating. Lacy is not as sweaty but she recovers much quicker and is not heaving and miserable. They are eating a small amount of timothy and alfalfa pellets, alfalfa cubes, and free choice timothy/alfalfa/orchard and peanut hay and they are on pasture for 12 hours a day. I had another horse last year that stopped sweating and after trying everything from beer to acupuncture to supplements(and a ton of $$), I had to move him up north where he sweats fine now. Thank you Doc T, I’m so grateful I don’t have to let go of another great horse!!
Thank you Tab for this report and for trying the no grain approach to anhidrosis. Usually it takes less than a week to see the results. Is there a red mineral salt block because it is loaded with sugar. Also did you eliminate carrots, apples, candy, sugar cubes, treats and supplements? All of these have carbohydrates and gut inflammatory ingredients. They should only have forage, mined salt and water. Let us all know, but honestly it is great news that they have turned on the sweat glands again no matter if it took this long. I will also say that it has been very hot in FL this year and trying this approach in Aug and Sept is challenging in itself and may be why it took so long. Thankfully the cooler weather is fast approaching!
Doc T, thank you for the reply. There are only Himalayan salt blocks, and no treats or supplements of any kind. Lacy does not enjoy the salt as much as Haddie. Should I add salt to her cubes/pellets? It was incredibly hot and miserable this summer but it is finally starting to cool down and I cannot be happier about being able to ride again! Thank you again!
Yup – the hot weather was tough on everyone. No need to add salt if it is available free choice.
Dr Tucker. My mare started the no grain diet in April. I was diligent about nothing but pasture, coastal 1 flake alfalfa, Timothy pellets and SBM.
She does not exhibit symptoms of gut inflammation except trailering issues.
However last week she had severe respiratory and coughing problems. I took her to Texas A&M They diagnosed equine asthma. I have never seen this problem in her in 20 years. However, I am wondering if she Has had a low grade asthma all this time and that is the source of inflammation causing the anhidrosis.. Is that possible. Your thoughts.
I am getting tremendous pushback from the barn because of her condition. She quit eating her pellets SBM and CoolStance. She does look bad but I believe this is all because she had been sick.
What do you think?
Equine asthma (COPD) is difficult and not associated with gut inflammation as far as I can tell because it does not respond to any diet changes. COPD starts as allergic bronchitis usually but an inciting incident (bad/moldy hay) can cause an acute onset. If the breathing difficulty is severe enough then that alone or with high temperatures can cause a horse to go off feed. Treating the asthma should help her to eat again.
As far as the “pushback” goes, take some time to explain to them what you have learned from these blogs and ask them to help you learn more by trying to explain it more. Engage them by asking them top add their observations to your diary that you started when you changed the diet. Have them ad all their observations and then meet weekly to reassess them.
Just a quick update – we have been doing the No Grain diet since July 10 and we continue to have great success. Levi is sweating really well – it helps to walk or stand in-between our working…that seems to help trigger him to sweat. He might puff a little, but it is very slight. He is drinking water well and thinks his alfalfa pellets are great! He cools out pretty quick, returning to normal breathing, and the bad hair coat that he developed from not sweating shed out and he is shiny and slick! I may go ahead and do the Equiwinner patches again to see if that stabilizes the sweating so that he starts sweating more quickly during our workouts. He continues to maintain a good weight so I have not added any soy meal or increased his hay or pellets. I have passed the information and the blog address onto several people and they have become believers..so nice to have the horses feeling better!
Thanks for this update Karen. I am unsure why you have not added soybean meal.
Our horse was taken off SBM for 2 weeks this summer here in FL and soon greatly reduced her sweating. Within 2 weeks of returning SBM to her diet the normal sweating returned. I don’t have all the answers but I see chronic protein deficiency affecting so many horses all over this country in so many ways. So give it a try – 1 pound SBM per day for a 1200 pound horse. No downside.
Hi – I imported a gelding from Europe FL 7 weeks ago (he was body clipped just prior to arriving). He sweated fine and seemed to have no problem with the heat & humidity. But he did have chronic watery poop (not diarrhea) until we switched him from Strategy to a plain forage-type pellet mixed w/ a bit of Strategy for taste (I need to look at ingredients of pellets). About 2 weeks ago, he started struggling with being out of breath after jumping a course, but was still sweating (& his coat had grown back), this past week he stopped sweating entirely, watery poop is back & he is swapping off at the canter behind & generally not going 100% and is severely out of breath after very light work. Immediately stops huffing when hosed. His winter coat has started & his summer coat is shedding but his coat looks dull now and he has lost some weight (we have no grass turn out just alfalfa/timothy mix 6 flakes per day & they get beet pulp at lunch). He get Smartpak Ultra Combo & SmartCalm and i just started him last night on SweatAgain. I would be interested to try this 2 week challenge, but what happens after? does he stay on this diet? what about the supplements after 2 weeks? and how do you feed the salt so they eat it? he has a Himalayan Salt lick now but i don’t think he uses it. He also is not drinking enough (we have auto waterers which I hate, so I put a bucket in his stall and he sucked it all down immediately). Sorry for the long email, but I am very worried about him – waiting for my vet to call me back. Thank you!
Hi Ann – the sudden sweating from horses with anhidrosis was an incidental finding with horses that removed all ingredients from their horses diet except for forage (pasture and hay), mined salt and water. Everyone who has had this improvement realizes that going back to feeding grains and grain byproducts (especially the supplements) is not in their horses best interest.
The base idea in looking at nutrition is to REMOVE things and not ADD them. Please read all the blogs at TheEquinePractice.com/feed to understand how things work. After the gut inflammation is under control from grain removal, add soybean meal as a protein source with a broad variety of amino acids. Read all the comments under the blogs to see how others have done with this. Also join “The Horse’s Advocate” which is a private Facebook group I started. There you can search or ask questions and learn from what others have done.
Florida is hot and September is the hottest month. Be patient as cooler weather is about 45 days away. Be sure to clip off the winter hair coat to make him comfortable. That coat is coming in due to the decreasing daylight since June 21st. Can’t stop it cause you can’t stop winter coming. Its tough on horses living in FL especially those coming from Europe. It will take a few years to acclimate just as it does for humans moving to FL.
It has been one year since I found this blog & took my 3 horses off grain in order to treat anhidrosis. This Sept is just as hot as last here in Florida & I am so grateful to DocT for his insight & advice. Now the only time I hose down my horses is to get the dried sweat & dirt off.
Thanks for this update Janet. So many have had a better summer especially here in the hottest month for FL. Soon, everyone will discover this simple solution for anhidrosis.
Quick update – Levi has been back at the trainers since July 26 – he is hot-walked, lunged and ridden probably 5 days a week. I was able to ride yesterday and we did a pretty intense workout. He was sweating well and the best part is that he was not panting or breathing hard AT ALL! My trainer is putting other horses in the barn on the No-grain diet and several of my friends whose horses have sweating issues are doing it as well with good results. There is one horse who struggles that is holding out, but if they change their mind and try it, I will update the results! Thanks for all of your help.
Thanks Karen not only for trying the no grain diet but for giving others the opportunity to become their horse’s advocate. Thanks also for posting here so others gain confidence from your experiences. I am very grateful.
Update for Levi’s progress. Through Day 10, he was definitely sweating more but most importantly, after exercise, he wasn’t panting and struggling and he returned quickly to normal breathing after unsaddling and rinsing. We ended up with a hot nail and he was ouchy for a bit, so his shoe was pulled and he was off work for a bit. He is currently in Ocala and my trainer has continued with the hay, water, alfalfa pellets (but not daily pasture for right now due to logistics) and a Himalayan salt block. He was taken out a few days ago and worked in the round pen after his shoe was replaced. When he was taken out of the stall, he was sweaty on his neck and breathing normally – it was pretty warm in the barn that day. After a good workout, he was sweating well and not panting. He was unsaddled and tied in stall for a bit and his breathing was good and he had great sweat. I am sold!!!
So now I have a question about vaccines. We have just about every bug known to man in Florida and I have used both “shot” vaccines and homeopathic Nosodes for EWT, EEG, Rhino-Flu and Potomac Flu. I used the Nosodes on all of my show horses and at home horses for 20 years and had no issues – they are flavored with sugar. What is your recommendation for vacinating…we are not due until December? Also, what do you recommend for worming that won’t upset the balance – including for tape worms.
I have been sharing our journey with all of the horse people I speak to…it makes sense, and there may be some people who make the change.
Thanks Karen for this update.
Adding a little bit of sugar once in a while should not be a problem with sweating. My theory is that it is the daily, year round feeding of a high sugar diet that is behind the inflammation of the gut and the subsequent anhidrosis.
I see you did not mention rabies. This is too serious a disease for both you and your horse to not vaccinate for.
My thoughts on parasite control can be found in another blog on this site. It is based on keeping the environment clean and not on medicating the horses. This is what we do in our own lives even though most of the horse dewormers are approved for human use and some can be found on the shelves of your local pharmacy.
Please join the private Facebook group “The Horse’s Advocate” where you can post your question about vaccines and parasite control as this blog is about sweating. Also consider going my website TheHorsesAdvocate.com where I have several discussions about vaccinations and deworming including how to make your own manure vacuum using a leaf blower.
I will read the other blogs – and yes, there is a rabies Nosode too which I give. This has definitely been an interesting journey. I am just glad that my horse seems to be feeling good again!
Dr Tucker. My mare has been on your no grain diet since April. She gets pasture, coastal hay, one flake of alfalfa and 1.5 pounds of soaked Timothy pellets split between 2 feedings. She has Himalayan and red rock salt hanging in her stall. Since May she has been getting a pound of SBM split between two feedings. She is not sweating. In July I took her off SBM to see if that did anything. It did not but in the meantime she has quit eating the Timothy pellets. I am going to add back the SBM to see if that encourages her to eat the Timothy pellets since they are mixed together and she seems to like SBM. But she is dropping weight and the barn owner is worried. She wants to put her on Coolstance.
On another note. I was reading about the patch in postings above. My mare was on the patch 5 or 6 years ago. It did nothing. I’m wondering if I should try it again. But realistically, in the 13 years my 20 old mare has has anhidrosis nothing has worked. My vet says her sweat glands have atrophied but could conceivably come back.
We still are not sure of the cause of non-sweating and why removing grain reverses this in almost every horse. The Equiwinner patch has a good understanding of this condition and we have talked about it. Sometimes a horse needs both grain removal and the patch especially if they are older (30+ years).
I’m sorry to ask but I know others will want to ask you – is there any chance that your horse is being slipped carrots, apples, cookies, grain or access to a red trace mineral salt lick? If she is only getting what you say then I need to know how old she is as 25+ horses take more time to respond.
As to the fat loss, remember that body fat is a sign of inflammation. By removing the grain the horse will start to consume their body fat. This is actually good. However once removed the real muscle loss is now revealed. The knee jerk reaction is to add back grain which will add body fat. Adding Coolstance is an alternative and should be added as winter approaches. It is not inflammatory for horses.
My final thought is that if she is older and you live in the hot climates, be patient. Cooler weather is coming. Then after a year of no grain plus the SBM, the following summer becomes the breakout year. I have seen this in haricots that don’t spring to life in chronically inflamed horses. But then the fall and winter coat comes in and it looks so much better.
I think behind all of this is an altered gut microbiota which needs time to replace the bad bugs with the good ones. This takes from weeks to months to a year depending on the severity. Other than being patient, I have no other recommendations. However, please take notes and report back as time goes on. We all need to hear your experience as winter comes and then summer returns. I will be looking forward to your reports.
My mare turned 20 in May.
All things are possible but I would be shocked if she is being slipped anything other than the food I listed. People at this barn are pretty respectful of other horses diets. But I will reconfirm with the owner.
I live in Houston and we are no where close to winter. Is it too early to start Coolstance.
For what it’s worth my mare did not exhibit most of the symptoms you listed previously. Her only problems were with trailering.
Also she will sweat modestly October through June.
Thanks for your reply. 20 years isn’t that old and most horses this age respond quickly to becoming sweaters after removing the grain.
I would like to know if she is comfortable in the heat or is she unable to keep her respiratory rate down. Are you able to keep her comfortable under fans and only turn her out at night? How are the other horses in the same environment and on the same pasture sweating? there are so many other questions to ask. What is your vet telling you? How long has she been a non-sweater? Is she on any medications or herbal supplements or topicals including shampoos? Many shampoos and soaps can disrupt the holobiome in humans especially if bathed every day.
Unfortunately I am not your vet and cannot get in deeper with medical advice. From a nutritional point, if the no grain challenge doesn’t seem to be hurting her and if it has improved her trailering then I would hang in there until next summer and see what happens after a long period of decreased gut inflammation. Remember, no one knows the real cause of non sweating. But as you can tell here in these comments, horses from around the world have started to sweat after removing grain from the diet. Most do so in about 4 days. Some very inflamed horses (even with few outward signs) have taken until cooler weather comes especially when they start the no grain approach after the summer heat has started.
We all look forward to your updates.
Imho trailering issues are often ulcer issues.
I think of it this way. There are people who won’t fly because they always get sick when the movement in the air is anything but stable. You can’t get them on the plane to start with or if you do, they make the trip miserable for themselves and those around them. They still put a vomit bag in each seat pocket.
The same is certainly true with horses who know they won’t feel good once they get in the trailer and it starts moving. Many won’t get in and those that do struggle with the trip due to the queasy feeling they get from the hind gut dysbiosis and subsequent ulceration. The testimony in the video from the one person on the page TheHorsesAdvocate.com/grain tells how her horse went from coming apart inside the trailer to walking on with the lead thrown over the neck. Going grain for was transformative.
Today is Day 6…rinsed chest and legs and lunged 10 minutes – walk and trot mostly – a little cantering; rode moderately for 30-40 minutes with walking breaks or standing breaks in the shade in between working. Have been keeping track of the temperature and humidity – today was 78 degrees temperature and 75% humidity (153) which has been fairly consistent this week. Levi had neck and face sweat, under saddle pad sweat and even had sweat dripping slightly from under saddle pad – first time on his own! Yay! still not very good sweating on hindquarters and belly except at girth.
I will stop the oil and the apple-cider vinegar this evening and see how that works. Weight wise, measuring every other day:
started at 1049 (which is a bit chubby) – went to 1033, then 1016 and then back to 1033 (I checked 3 times to make sure). I thought that was kind of weird since the amount of hay and hay pellets is the same.
I will get some roasted peanuts for a bucket treat – more for me than for him, LOL!
Thanks for this update. It sounds like good progress. Remember that for many horses this is a slower process than for others depending on the amount of inflammation and the heat/humidity of the day.
Please see my comment from July 11 – could you please respond. Thanks.
I only see your July 10th comment which I replied to. If you had another question about non sweating horses it never came through. I’m working all day so it will be a while before I respond. You caught me early today in the pacific time zone.
Maybe I didn’t send it the right way – Here it is copied and pasted:
OK – starting July 11 with no grain, using Timothy hay pellets and the alfalfa 2 times per day, T & A 1 time per day. I will still be adding 1/2 cup twice a day of organic apple cider vinegar and a pump per feeding of Equine Omega Complete oil. I read somewhere in the preceding blog that for treats you can give peanuts, shell and all. Would that be raw peanuts like you can buy in the grocery store? I stopped the Ventipulmin and when the Equiwinner patches get here, I will do those. I weight measured Levi and will do that every other day as we go on. If need be, if in two weeks he is sweating normally, do I need to add some sort of protein or just increase the hay pellets or hay? Should we soak the alfalfa before feeding?
July 15 – rinsed chest and legs before starting…45 minutes of walk, jog and lope…had his own sweat (not dripping but more than we have had) on neck, under legs, chest and under saddle pad. I decided to wait on doing the patches until the 10 day mark so that I can see if it is just a change in feeding. Thanks.
Peanuts – any kind in the shell is OK. Just feed 1 or 2 as a treat.
Apple cider vinegar – probably for flies. Unknown effect on the gut health.
Any oils – unnecessary and probably inflammatory to the gut. This oil in particular has soybean oil and fish oil. The SB oil may bind to the lipopolysaccharides (LPS from the dead gut bacteria) and the combo of oil and LPS penetrates the gut lining (leaky gut) causing inflammation throughout the body (nerves, brain, joints and gut) according to human research. There is no horse research but I’m not seeing where horses get a lot of fish. The omega 3 and 6 information comes from what humans need while little is known about the need in horses. What is known is that if the gut microbes in the hind gut are healthy (not inflamed from grains and grain byproducts) then they will digest the cellulose into the fats they need.
Let us know how it goes with the sweating. But the protocol is pasture, hay, mined salt and water. Nothing else so if it isn’t working as well as you hoped then try removing the oil and the vinegar.
My horse quit sweating about two months ago – prior to that he had no problems. I am at a boarding barn, so I have to be mindful of all of the other horses – so my question would be, if I need to have a “grain” to feed when everyone else is getting fed, are the alfalfa pellets okay – or should I do another type of hay pellet. My horse gets a large flake of alfalfa (3-string size) for breakfast and lunch and a flake of T & A for dinner. Thanks.
Any hay pellet should work. It’s what most people do in this situation. With all the alfalfa in your feeding I’d probably just use a grass pellet.
I am so thankful that I found this blog from Dr. Tucker last September when my 28 yr. old saddlebred quit sweating even though she was on OneAC. I immediately followed his advice & in 3 days she was sweating even tho temps had remained in the 90’s with humidity in the 70’s (Florida). Now it’s the end of June with temps mid 90’s & humidity 70’s & she remains comfortable & looks good. Thanks, Dr. T.!!!
Thank you Janet. I was reading my text book from the late 1980’s about anhydrosis and discovered that when the combined temperature (in F) added to the humidity equals 180 and half of this is humidity, many horses will stop sweating. Anyone been to south FL this week
?? We are there! But no where is there offered a treatment or even a cause. I have started to formulate a theory that I might post soon. Stay tuned. And thanks for this. It will help others with suffering horses in this heat.
I just completed a second round using the Equiwinner patches on my mare – we first used the patches about 4 months ago and she started sweating on day 6th day of use. She continued to sweat up until a month ago when our Florida temps started climiging 95+. I contacted Equiwinner and they suggested trying 10 days of the patches again and cutting grain out of her diet which we did. She started sweating on day 3 but then stopped on day 8 and has not had any sweat since. Our temps are continuing to rise and she is having a really hard time in the heat. She is currently being fed a ration balancer by triple crown, triple crown’s alfaflox forage and orchard and alfalfa hay- we have no pasture where we are. Do you recommend continuing with the ration balancer and alfalfa? I also plan on taking her off all supplements and treats and adding plain salt. She also receives adequan injections bi-monthly, do you feel this could have any impact on why she is not sweating?
Thanks Paige and thank you Equiwinner patches (they are friends) for recommending not to feed grain. However from your comment here I see a misunderstanding of what you think is “grain.” Please take a look at the food you are now feeding your horses because they have grain, grain byproducts, sugars, lectins and inflammatory ingredients.
Here is the ingredient label for TC ration balancer: Dehulled Soybean Meal, Wheat Middlings, Ground Limestone, Monocalcium Phosphate, Dicalcium Phosphate, Magnesium Oxide, Yeast Culture, Hydrolyzed Yeast, Hydrated Sodium Calcium Aluminosilicate, Dried Lactobacillus Acidophilus Fermentation Product, Dried Enterococcus Faecium Fermentation Product, Distillers Dried Grains, Anise Seed, Fenugreek Seed, Dried Trichoderma Longibrachiatum Fermentation Extract, Dried Bacillus Subtilis Fermentation Extract, Zinc Amino Acid Complex, Manganese Amino Acid Complex, Kelp Meal, Copper Amino Acid Complex, Lecithin, Iron Amino Acid Complex, Magnesium Proteinate, Selenium Yeast, Soybean Oil, Salt, Vitamin E Supplement, Ascorbic Acid (Source of Vitamin C), Niacin Supplement, Biotin, Vitamin A Supplement, Thiamine Mononitrate, Beta Carotene, Calcium Pantothenate, Riboflavin Supplement, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Choline Chloride, Menadione Sodium Bisulfite Complex (Source of Vitamin K Activity), Folic Acid, Sodium Bicarbonate, Cane Molasses, Stabilized Rice Bran, Calcium Carbonate, Brewers Dried Yeast, Flaxseed, Monosodium Phosphate, Ferrous Sulfate, Zinc Sulfate, Manganese Sulfate, Copper Sulfate, Cobalt Sulfate, Ethylenediamine Dihydroiodide, Lignin Sulfonate, L-Lysine, DL- methionine, (Propionic Acid, Sodium Benzoate, Potassium Sorbate (Preservatives)).
The 2nd ingredient is wheat middlings – a grain byproduct which think has lectin activity interrupting insulin delivering glucose to cells. The 12th is Distillers Dried Grains. # 44 and 45 are Cane Molasses and Stabilized Rice Bran. In between are chelated minerals which may alter the horse’s regulation of minerals in the body. The vitamins added are also made by the horse or the normal gut microbiota. There is little evidence that any probiotic such as bacteria and yeasts ever make it past the stomach acid in humans let alone horses. And while respecting this company, I would certainly like them to verify the sources of all of these additional ingredients to prove to their customers that they are actually in the feed or have been made correctly in the bulk quantity they must purchase them in. Are they made in America and fresh or were they made in another country and stored for over a year in some shipping container? The addition of the inflammatory soybean oil is there to lubricate the machine making this feed. It was removed when making soybean meal so why add it back?
Feeding ANY ration balancer or hay extender is not in the best interest of any horse. It is a marketing scheme. I wrote about this before here: https://theequinepractice.com/betrayal/
The ingredients in Alfa-Lox are: Sun-Cured Alfalfa, Yeast Culture, Yeast Extract, L-Carnitine, Dehydrated Alfalfa Meal, Wheat Middlings, Distillers Dried Grains, Cane Molasses, Flaxseed Oil, Soybean Oil, Butyric Acid, Zinc Oxide, Silicon Dioxide, Peppermint Essential Oil, Propylene Glycol, Glycerin, (Propionic Acid, Sodium Benzoate, Potassium Sorbate (Preservatives)). Note the similar ingredients. And both products need preservatives. Soybean meal and alfalfa do not need preservatives.
Treats? Carrots are dicotyledon plants and horses eat monocotyledon plants (grasses). It is what they developed their digestive system for. Apples should be fed only when they can be picked from a tree. Candy is sugar. Treats have many grains in them. If you absolutely need to feed a treat, give a peanut in a shell. They are NOT a nut but are a legume like alfalfa and therefore are OK for horses. Feed 1 or 2 at a time.
Now my thoughts on the heat in FL. I live here too and I know some horses are having trouble sweating. Removing all inflammatory ingredients helps many horses throughout the world living in hot climates. Adding soybean meal to a no grain diet helps to provide the ligands needed to naturally chelate the minerals found in the water, mined salt (ex Himalayan) and the forage. Most ligands are amino acids and looking at what you are feeding, your horses are not getting enough broad variety amino acids to do this job. The two reasons for this is the gut inflammation preventing the absorption of what is being ingested and the increased consumption of proteins due to increased inflammation and the gluconeogenesis from chronic carbohydrate dependency. At this point though you may need to hose the horse with water and add fans to the stable area turning out only at night. Remember that electrolytes are minerals with added or lost electrons. If the minerals are not available then this could be the reason for limited sweating of electrolytes.
Please feed only grass hay, alfalfa hay, mined salt and water. Add soybean meal in about 10 days after the inflammation has calmed down. Report back in a bit with how things are going.
Thank you so much for your reply and breakdown of the information, its extremely helpful! I will start the mare on this program tomorrow. Is there a particular brand mined salt and soybean meal you recommend and amount of each?
Any salt that is from a mine with nothing added. Many like Himalayan salt for this.
Soybean meal (SBM) is an ingredient and is sold my many manufacturers. The differences between these are the oil extraction process (pressure and solvent), the anti caking ingredient (minimal and usually not listed), genetic modification or not and organic or not. For any of theses the protein content is about 48% and the amino acid profile is the same.
Any mined salt such as Himalayan ad lib. 1 pound soybean meal per day per 1200 pound horse. Any SBM will work but watch for bad brands that have poor quality with debris from uncleared hoppers. Join the private Facebook group called “The Horse’s Advocate” for more info on this.
I undertook the “no grain challenge” because 3 of my 4 horses had issues that I was unable to address with my regular veterinary treatments. I am going to comment specifically on the OTTB gelding who did not want to sweat well in these hot SC summers. In the past I have used Guinness beer, ACTH and even the Much touted Equine Omega products that guarantee to have your horse sweating in days! The beer was not helpful but entertained the fellas at the liquor store where I bought it by the case for a horse. The ACTH worked ok – he began to sweat but not well. The expensive Equine Omega Complete – well, he looked at me after I dosed him with it, walked to the water trough and rinsed his mouth out. Funny, but he was clearly giving me “the finger” & adamant that he was not going to let me repeat that procedure. (Would not touch his feed if I put it in there)
I opted for the “no grain” program and I am delighted to report that this horse is sweating better than I have EVER seen him sweat. He is staying very dark, does not seem to be plagued by bugs as he was previously, and gets foamy sweat between his hind legs which I have never seen him do before. It has reached triple digits already this year (in May). Normally I would be giving myself an ulcer worrying about him having a heat stroke but not now.
The other horses are thriving as well! I kick myself for not doing this sooner. I admit, I was skeptical. Trying it and witnessing the changes has made me a believer and I routinely recommend this program to my clients. Thank you Doc for recognizing this issue, for educating the rest of us and always advocating for the horses!
Thank you Heather for this delightful and humorous testimonial. You are helping all who read this and say, “Why not try it?”
Dr T. I am starting to think I am seeing a reduction in my 20 year old mare’s sweat output even though she is on the No Grain diet. It seems a lot of geldings respond to various treatments but my mare does not respond to anything. I am wondering if estrogen could play a contributing factor. Given that I am wondering if SBM could be having a negative affect on her ability to sweat on the No Grain diet. She gets one pound a day split between breakfast and dinner. Your thoughts.
I have not heard of any estrogen effects on horses from SBM. However it would seem logical to remove the SBM from her diet to see if the sweating improves. Remember that there are also other factors such as the increased sugar content of the grass. How long has she been on no grain? Is she being fed anything else such as carrots, treats, or a red salt lick.
The logical thing to do is to eliminate everything but the grass, hay, water and mined salt. If she starts to sweat again add back only one item at a time starting with the SBM. then come back here to let us all know how things went.
Hi Doc T. My ponies have been on the no grain diet for at least 2 months now. My smallest stopped sweating almost a year ago after vaccinations. I also live in hot, humid Florida. I saw promising signs as she started sweating under her tack. Today I’m happy to report that she is sweating all over and has been for a while. It’s now June and the daily temps have been 100-102 degrees these past few weeks. Something that I thought was interesting…she has always had a Himalayan salt lick and when she was on grain and not sweating she’d lick the heck out of it. Now that she’s not on any grain and is sweating she has cut back in how much she licks it. I thought it would have been opposite but maybe now her body is absorbing what she needs more efficiently so she doesn’t need to lick so much salt? Just thought that was interesting.
Thanks for this testimony and for this interesting observation. Here is a hypothesis. There is no proof and no one knows for sure why horses stop sweating.
Electrolytes are minerals that have either lost or gained electrons. Minerals need to be chelated to be absorbed through the gut wall. Chelation is the binding of a mineral molecule to a ligand. Ligands can be sugars but are predominately amino acids.
My thought is that when horses are on grain the subsequent inflammation either consumes the available ligands, blocks the chelation process or the dysbiosis of the gut microbiota plays a fundamental part in the absorption of minerals. This would explain why your pony was craving salt when inflamed because his brain sensed a lack of minerals. When the inflammation was removed he was then able to absorb the available minerals in the water, pasture, hay and salt lick. His mineral demand was satiated and the lick became unnecessary.
This same idea is also seen in horses showing extreme hunger (called “vacuums”) eating constantly. When adequate protein is added these horses reduce their food intake. I believe this is due to their amino acid requirements are now satisfied and they no longer need to search the other unfulfilling feeds.
I have a 17 year old qh gelding that sweats too much. He gets lathered up with hardly any work. Also seems like he is nervous when he starts to sweat. He is just on alfalfa and a Redmond rock and water. Any suggestions?
Consider adding protein in the form of soybean meal. He may be missing something that is adding to his anxiousness.
These are some of my protein blogs:
I use the equiwinner patches on him and it completely fixes the problem within 3 days. He is calm and sweats normally. I just want to fix the main problem where I don’t have to do the patches. I want him to have what he needs to be healthy.
The USA distributor of these patches is a friend and follows these comments closely. We have discussed the good results of the no grain diet and non-sweating and basically she is intrigued that it works. We both agree that it is a mineral imbalance and however the horse rectifies the non-sweating issue is not as important as that he dose.
See the comment here from Dorrie Miller. there I give my hypothesis about the horse’s inability to chelate minerals while having gut inflammation. Just my thoughts – we need a researcher to discover the truth – but they all live when it is cold!
My horse only gets alfalfa pellets for grain, CUR OST supplements, salt, and 1/4 c chia seeds. He doesn’t have pasture but eats orchard grass and alfalfa hay, tends to be an easy keeper. Recently, he has stopped sweating. Suggestions?
Yes – only feed the hay, mined salt (ex, Himalayan) and water. The supplements and the chia seeds are inflammatory for many horses. Once he starts to sweat (in about 4 days) then 1) report back here (please so everyone can learn) and 2) add soybean meal to add the needed protein that is not in his diet. See https://theequinepractice.com/feeding-the-horse-as-simple-as-1-2-3/ and all the other blogs on nutrition.
Dr. Tucker. I am on day 4 of the no grain challenge and all is well. I was rereading your blog and realized you said one could feed a handful of hay pellets. I have been giving my mare 1/2 scoop of soaked Timothy pellets to make up for the alfalfa hay she is not getting. Am I feeding too much Timothy pellets? She is a 17 hand warmblood.
A “scoop” can be any size but I will assume your scoop is larger than a “handful.”
If your horse is happy with the soaked hay pellets then there would be no need decrease this amount unless your horse is overweight. The reason for a “handful” is due to an increased risk of choke on dry pellets. Because you are soaking them then there should be no concern for choke. Thanks for reading these and commenting with your question for all to read. Just remember to measure your scoop and then give the amount you are feeding in ounces or pounds or kg. Thanks, Doc T
Dr Tucker, I am sending an update. My 20 year old mare started the no grain diet on 4/18/19. She was fed pasture, timothy pellets, and coastal hay. She has a Himalayan salt block available in her stall. That’s all, no supplements or additives of any kind. On 5/2/19 I added 1 pound SBM divided between am and pm feedings. She seems to have lost a little bit of belly but she is shiny, content and probably looks better without the belly. On 5/9/19 I plan to add a flake of alfalfa.
I live in Houston. Currently the temperature gets to low or mid 80’s. Typically she does sweat at these temps and this time of year, although not like a real sweater. Usually her neck gets damp when worked. She does not exhibit sweat when standing in the pasture. She stops sweating altogether July-September.
Yesterday I lunged her for about 30 minutes. When I was done her neck was starting to show sweat but her belly near her back legs was very wet as was between her legs underneath her tail. Her chest was also quite damp. I don’t know if it’s wishful thinking but this seems to be more than usual even for this time of year. It’s hard to gauge.
I’ll give you an update in July once the heat really kicks in unless something noteworthy happens before then.
I am wondering if I can expect the volume of sweat to continue to increase or if what I get early on is what I can expect to continue to see? In other words as her gut continues to heal will the volume of sweat continue to increase.
Thanks for all you do and the effort you put into this.
The belly will continue to tighten up over the next month. This, along with the improved hair coat, is one of the surprising improvements horse owners notice when supplementing protein. It’s another piece of evidence that your horse was in a protein deficient state.
The sweat pattern and amount is not as important as 1) there is more and 2) the horse is not intolerant of the heat. This includes noting his work ethic in the heat, his recovery time post exercise, the size of his nostril flare and the presence or absence of an anxious look on the face.
We all look forward to your update! Thank you, Doc T
To me the most important metric when determining whether the horse is sweating properly is the respiratory rate. Normal is 12 breaths per minute. When my horse was not sweating he would come in from riding (mostly walking) at 80bpm and I would cold hose his neck to get it to come down. Even at rest it would be at 30bpm. Now that he is sweating well, his bpm comes down quickly after exercise and at rest is usually around 12bpm.
Thank you Maria-Elena for this brilliant comment. I had suggested nostril flare and recovery rate as easily perceived indicators of respiratory distress from overheating,. But your more accurate measurements are spot on and objective. Thanks for this addition!
I have a 20 year old horse that doesn’t sweat in the heat of the summer. I want to try the no grain diet. You state for the first 2 weeks only pasture , hay( grass or legume) , water, and real salt. I am intending to feed mostly coastal hay with one flake of alfalfa each day. This is consistent with your statement. Can you confirm no problem with alfalfa? After 2 weeks I will add alfalfa pellets and SBM. I make sure neither has any other ingredients. Lynnette W
This is perfect Lynette. If you want to wait on the alfalfa until you add the SBM that’s OK. The focus is on elimination of gut inflammation.
What usually occurs is on day 3 to 4 the horse starts sweating. After this you can start adding SBM and alfalfa. Come back and let us all know how this works for you.
One more question. It’s mid April. My horse sweats until early July but I couldn’t see any reason to wait. How will I know it’s working? I will wait to add the alfalfa.
There are other signs of gut inflammation including: squirts or very wet manure, sensitivity to brushing or tightening the girth, anxiousness, constant hunger, unwanted behavior when riding, poor work ethic, unwilling to load or trailer, poor or unthrifty hair coat, poor hoof condition, poor top line, unsoundness.
Quite a list! Some are from feeling uncomfortable from the inflammation and some are from chronic protein deficiency. Starting early is a great idea. Come back this summer with a report please. Thanks!
Of those symptoms the only ones she has is some girth sensitivity and poor trailer loading and traveling. Her top line has deteriorated over the years. She doesn’t squirt , Her manure is firm and her hooves are great. Also she is a wood chewer and Ive always gotten the impression that there was some angst associated with that.
I will definitely give you feedback.
I took my mare off all concentrates years ago and it did not get her sweating. She has been on an all forage diet for 10 years. The ONLY thing that has worked for her (and I tried it all) is SweatWerks by Horse Tech.
Thanks for this input. As of now we still do not understand why horses stop sweating. I am suspicious of a lectin component.
Was you horse off everything except pasture, hay, real salt and water? I have found that supplements, medicines, treats (cookies, carrots, apples, sugar etc) all have to be removed. I am also interested in the results after protein has been added.
If you have a moment, would you reply with exactly what your horse was eating when she wouldn’t sweat?
Hi Doc. I finally got my hands on SBM & started all three on 1/2 cup with each feeding of alfalfa pellets & CoolStance. I will miss seeing your comments but totally understand the time constraints. I don’t know how you managed it thus far but am grateful that you did. My horses & I thank you. Janet Lucht
Started Rusty on your program 3 months ago. Temps in Florida high 80’s low 90’s. The humidity is always high. Over 50% in the afternoons after 98% in the mornings. He started sweating a little bit at day 3, then stopped. I continued Cool Stance feed, salt , grass and orchard hay for the next few months. FInally he has started to sweat! Mostly around the breast collar, between the front legs, the back legs and under the saddle. I have also seen sweat on the mane area. I slowly added garlic granules, timothy hay pellets, a feed thru fly control and minerals to his diet. For treats I give him an apple-berry cube treat. It took him quite a while, but I am so grateful for your “diet”. The main thing I quit feeding was beet pulp pellets. May try and add them back later, just to see what happens. I fed beet pulp to help keep the sand down in the gut. So far , so good. Thanks again.
No need to add the sugar beet pulp back as it really doesn’t help sand colic. What DOES help gut motility is removing all sources of gut inflammation so keep his diet simple. No treats. Only pasture, hay, salt, water and a protein like soy bean meal.
Thanks for giving this a try and helping your horse sweat again.
Have reached day 3 in Sky’s grain free + no additives challenge. No changes noted yet. Hoping some will come soon. He gets pasture at night (no nutrients there). He is only on Timothy pellets/alfalfa cubes/ Timothy and Orchard hay – that is all… I decided on no salt because he’s not sweating at all and didn’t want to add anything else that may have some additive hiding in it . Any suggestions are welcome. We have tried one AC in past – nothing. Trying to give this some time to work. Keeping up hope.
Day 1 Vitals
Partly cloudy ⛅️
Mild nasal flare
Multiple well formed stools
*938 weight* (tape)
Day 2 Vitals
Temp 102.1 !! 🔥
69 % humidity 💦
Partly cloudy ⛅️
Significant nasal flare
Multiple well formed stools
*repeatedly dunking nose and face into water bucket**
Day 3 Vitals
Temp 102.1 🔥
RR 95 !!
Standing in stall
69 % humidity 💦
Partly cloudy ⛅️
Significant nasal flare
**repeatedly dunking nose and face into water bucket**
I have an 11 yo OTTB “Sky” Gelding who was a MASSIVE sweater until last year 6/2017. We live in South Fl. His sweating just turned off like a switch. I read your article and started his “grain free” quest 8/2017. It did 100% help with his “nervous and nuts” attitude while jumping. He is now very calm, which is totally opposite his personality previously. No more diarrhea, even during stressful situations like shows. Still does not sweat though.
However, I did NOT realize that he could not have supplements AT ALL. My mistake. He has continued to not sweat this year, little tiny areas here and there, but that’s all. He recently started with higher temps and increased nasal flairing and even recently had a nose bleed in his stall. The vet was called and he was given IV electrolytes and fluids x 2 days & I Put a fan in his stall, gets pretty much daily hose offs to be sure his temp is reasonable. Only turned out during eves and throughout night.
I returned to my search on the internet and again came across your article. This time IT HIT ME – SO TOMORROW 10/13/18, we are stopping ALL of his additives. (Which I actually only started when I took him off the grain last year) They are smart combo senior Pellets, Barn Bag Hay Blanacer, SmartLytes Powder and One AC. He also gets a bit of rice bran oil. No treats, I use Alfalfa Cubes as a treat.
His feed WAS as follows:
AM and PM
3 Quarts Timothy pellet
1 quart Alfafa Cubes
2 quarts Timothy pellets
Now as of 10/13/18
AM and PM
2 quart Timothy Pellets
2 quart alfalfa cubes
2 quarts Timothy Pellets
1 quart alfalfa cubes
Loose hay remains the same:
6 pads Timothy/day.
2 pads Orchard/day
I have increased his Alfalfa because his top line needs some weight on it, also despite the vitamins his coat is dull and he gets hives and always has a battle with fungus.
I will record his temps/vitals and his sweating progress.
Since he has gotten progressively worse this summer to the point he can’t really even be ridden anymore I’m hoping that the removal of all things grain and to be “truly” grain free is our answer. Fingers crossed 🤞 Any further recommendations are welcome.
Thanks Rebekah for this detailed report. Even the little bit of sugar in red salt licks is enough to cause gut inflammation. Also remove carrots, candies, cookies – EVERYTHING!.
Some horses with severe anhidrosis may take until next summer of feeding no sugar before they fully recover.
To improve the top line you need to add a broad variety of amino acids to form the proteins needed to restore it. I recommend soy bean meal (see my nutrition blogs about this at TheEquinePractice.com/feed). Increasing protein intake and restoring the amino acid reserves will improve the hair coat, make the vitamins (these are proteins) and restore the immune system (proteins) to fight skin conditions and fungus infections. In other words, proteins are everything and it sounds like your horse has the signs of chronic protein deficiency.
My 26 yr. old saddlebred mare has been grain free for about 6 weeks now. I added Cool Stance 2 days ago to her alfalfa pellets. At first she turned her nose up, literally, to it but this morning she cleaned it all up. She is still doing well temperature wise. I wanted to get soy bean meal but no one carries it in my area. I have someone close by who is a distributer for Cool Stance. I am hoping to see some weight gain & improvement in her topline as she has lost some. My grade mare with a skin condition & an attitude went grain free 10 days ago. I am seeing some improvement in both areas. My 18 yr. old Rocky Mountain gelding started showing anhydrosis symptoms & continued several days after going grain free about 3 weeks ago but seems to be better now. I don’t see any change in his physical condition. If anything he has put on weight. He has always been an easy keeper. My saddlebred is the only one I have given the Cool Stance. They all get alfalfa pellets & T/A hay. With the weather cooling off a little I plan to do some riding. Do you have any thing to add that I might be doing? Thanks so much for your information. I know it has improved the lives of my horses & hopefully lots of others.
Thanks for this update and for trying the no-grain challenge. Adding Coolstance will help to add fat in a non-inflammatory way. The only thing to add would be some soy bean meal so look harder. Any grain mill should have it and any grain dealer should be able to order it. Last I heard it is about $20 for a 50 pound bag. It is the SBM that will improve the top line after about 4 to 6 months.
OK, I will keep trying to find the SBM. I thought the Cool Stance would be instead of the SBM & would be enough protein as the analysis says it’s 20%. I think it will take a while to go thru 50 lbs of SBM but with cooler weather I won’t worry about it going rancid. Thanks so much.
20% is not the same as the bioavailability. All hay is half while SBM is 80% available. If you feed 1 pound of cool stance = 454 grams. 20% of 454 = 91 grams. If bioavailability is 50% then the net protein is 45 grams.
SBM is about 45% protein so 1 pound or 454g of SBM = 204g. If bioavailability is 80% then the net protein is 163g or 3.6 x greater than coconut meal.
While Coolstance has oil that is non-inflammatory to the human gut, it is still oil which will add calories and body fat. But as a protein source it will not be as efficient as SBM.
Remember your aim is 0.5 to 1.0 grams protein per pound of body weight per day. You must determine how much protein is in your pasture and hay. A good rule of thumb is about 450 to 500 grams per day in average farms. With horses at a deficit due to chronic protein deficiency, the addition of 1 pound SBM adds 163 grams putting most horses back into the positive. More on this in my nutrition blogs and the Horsemanship Nutrition course.
Hi doc t. I have switched my heaves/anhidrosis nightmare gelding to forage only. He gets peanut hay,pasture,plain salt,and only a handful of alfalfa pellets at night togive him his dex pills. I am amazed at how much weight he’s put on! He’s a hard keeper and was previously eating up to 2.5 scoops of commercial feed per day! So for him to be down to two flakes of peanut hay and pasture is amazing. And he’s shiny and muscley! His top line looks great! But he is not overweight either! Unfortunately he is not sweating still. And I understand that dex and ventipulmin May be inhibiting his ability to sweat but unfortunately his cough is so bad right now I feel like he needs it. Anyway even though he’s not sweating I feel like he’s a healthier horse!
He is a healthier horse. Now all you need is some time, change of seasons and the addition of protein. Adding 1 pound per day of soybean meal (for a horse between 1000 and 1400 pounds) will restore his chronic protein loss to help with the breathing. Please read all the nutrition blogs here: https://theequinepractice.com/travels-with-doc-t/horse-nutrition/. Especially read the blog on protein here: https://theequinepractice.com/protein/
It’s been 4 weeks now with no grain. I am giving them soaked Timothy and alfalfa pellets. My guy that doesn’t sweat has just now started to feel damp between his back legs but his runny stool stopped at day 6. That’s a plus. I did start them back on joint supplementation at the two week mark as both he and the paint were stiff and I could hear creaking when they were coming out of the stall in the afternoon. I will add the soybean meal when I get it, but all in all I think there has been improvement.
Thank you for all the info!
Once the SBM has a chance to work it should be enough to reduce or eliminate the joint supplements. Let us know your experience with this.
The damp versus full sweating may be due to either long standing gut inflammation or it may be due to how hot it is at the end of the summer in your area. By next summer you should see the benefits of gut healing with good sweating. Let us all know.
My 16.3h, 1,500 pound Canadian horse is currently fed each day: 1 pound of a field pea, alfalfa pellet, sunflower seed feed mix, 1 pound of senior feed, 3 ounces garlic powder, 2 tablespoons Celtic sea salt, and 8 ounces Arizona Copper Complete supplement. He has trouble sweating even in the heat and humidity of central Virginaand even resting in the cool stall I measured his breathing rate is over 50bpm this morning. I would like to try your protocol with him. Is it okay to pull him off what he has been taking immediately or do you recommend doing so gradually?
You need to do it in a way you feel comfortable. But if something is causing inflammation then it should be removed as soon as possible. All the horse owners who have removed everything all at once have not indicated to me that they had a problem. Rather, they say that in 3 to 4 days their horse starts sweating. But then again, I was in VA yesterday and it was turning into a cooler autumn like temperature. Remember also that September 21st is the fall equinox and hair coats are developing for winter – even in the hot south FL area. The extra hair adds to the heat stress. Let us all know in a week what you did and how he responded. Thanks.
Yesterday was day 12 of no grain / sugar, though day 9 if one started counting after access to a red mineral block was removed. Last week it was hard to evaluate sweating progress as we experienced some cooler weather here in Virginia. I thought there was an increase in sweating, but it was pretty slight: wetness in the girth area (he’s always had that), dampness on the neck and chest, and more moisture between the hind legs. Yesterday we went on a trail ride with temperatures in the high 70s and a fair amount of humidity, and lo and behold, sweat happened! Tivoly’s neck, chest and back were covered with sweat, even after just walking on a very easy one hour trail ride. Yay! His bowel movements are well-formed but he still has small squirts of liquid with them. We are continuing with the protocol.
One thing on my mind is trace mineral, particularly copper and magnesium, supplementation. Our area has soils with high levels of iron and we have acid rain, which is thought to deplete the soil of trace minerals. Also, our soils are known to be selenium deficient. The high iron content is thought to make trace minerals more difficult to assimilate. This year Tivoly showed several signs of copper deficiency: bleached coat and high degree of occurrences of rain rot, scratches, and thrush that he had not had in the past year that I’ve had him. All of it cleared up pretty quickly (not sure about the coat bleaching yet, will have to see what the winter brings) when I started him on Arizona Copper Complete. I have started reading your information about equine nutrition and I understand that a supplement like this one would be an issue because of the flax seed base that it uses. The mineral salt block (I am using the Redmond one) seems problematic: it limits mineral intake because of the salt, the zinc/copper proportion is not correct, it adds iron, which we don’t need, and it seems very low in magnesium and selenium. What would your recommend in this situation?
Great news about the sweating.
Minerals seem to be a topic all horse owners worry about yet have little good information about. For instance iron is highly regulated and not absorbed if not needed. Another consideration is that water is a great source of minerals.
The rain rot and scratches is a sign of an immune compromise. Why does one have these and others in the same field not? Deworming once a week for 3 weeks in a row with ivermectin has been my standard treatment for these for decades. Now it is in addition to adding protein to resupply the needed amino acids.
You will see the haricot maintain its normal color next summer once the protein levels are normalized.
Thanks for reading about nutrition in horses and consider taking the course to really dig in deeper.
Having just finished reading your twelve part series about equine nutrition, I see that Tivoly’s symptoms could result from a protein deficiency rather than (or in addition to) a copper deficiency. While he has a gorgeous coat and strong barefoot hooves, his topline needs help and he has three melanoma tumors on his neck and face, in addition to the rain rot, scratches, and thrush described previously. Perhaps address protein needs first?
Also, how do you feel about wormers? I’ve been using an herbal wormer (Fennel, Fenugreek, Cayenne, Garlic, Hyssop, Olive Leaf, Oregano, Pau De Arco, Rosemary, Sage, Stevia, Thyme, Peppermint, Wormwood, and Pumpkin Seed blended with Diatiamatious Earth and Yeast Cultures) and his fecal counts have been zero to low while using it, though of course they cannot disclose whether he has bot or tape worms. I suspended using it for the duration of the grain-free protocol. Is it okay to back to it?
You are correct about adding protein. See my reply to your last comment about this and deworming. You can add 1 pound of soy bean meal daily (assuming 1000 to 1400 pound horse – adjust if necessary).
Thank you very much for all of your information. I am very grateful for your website: it has opened up a whole new world regarding equine nutrition for me!
I’d wondered why it took my horse so long to start sweating and why he continues to have some squirting with his bowel movements. Could it be the alfalfa flake that he gets each day? Or the 2 -3 handfuls of alfalfa pellets? Then yesterday I turned him out and noticed that the horse who is fed in that field dribbles his senior feed on the ground and Tivoly made a beeline for it (and obviously has been doing this for the last two weeks). I anticipate getting pushback from the barn owner that it is a small amount. Is it worth pressing the issue in your opinion?
How much gluten can a person with celiac disease or gluten intolerance eat? For a sensitive horse it really is not the amount but if any is entering the system. For example in one horse I know it was the red trace mineral salt lick that caused the squirts. After 3 phone calls to the manufacturer the finally told us there was corn syrup and molasses in it. Removed the salt lick and the squirts finally stopped.
It has gotten colder now so it is hard to know about the current status of sweating, but during the warmer days we had at the beginning of October Tivoly seemed to sweat normally. I’ve also noticed that his stools no longer have any squirts. We are going to continue forward with the protein protocol. Thank you very much for your help and your site!
Thank you for trying this. Your horse’s positive response is good news. Pass this on.
I ran across your website when I searched for “best diet for anhydrosis in horses”. My 26 year old American Saddlebred started showing signs of anhydrosis last summer & I immediately put her on 1AC which had helped my TWH when he suffered with it the last 5 years of his life. He was 31 when he died. She got thru last summer OK on the 1AC. She had been on it all this summer & until the last couple weeks had been OK. Then I noticed she was panting this past several days. She has been on Triple Crown senior for several years & has a good weight according to my vet. I give her Platinum Osteon twice daily for navicular syndrome. The first week of every month I add 1 cup Metamucil daily to her feed to ward off sand colic. I feed the best quality T & A I can find. I have limited grazing. She is not stalled but mostly on a dry lot with ample shade. Last week after reading your website I bought a bag of T & A cubes & gradually added them (soaked) to decreasing grain. Sunday was her first day completely off grain. I still give her the Osteon & 1AC. Today, Tues.. I didn’t have to hose her down & put her in a stall under a fan. I could feel the dampness on her neck, between her legs & see dried sweat streaks on her rump. I’m so hoping this continues. I have 2 other horses that I will be switching over as well as soon as I can get rid of the feed I have. One of them has had a skin condition (my vet says she’s allergic to insect bites but it doesn’t go away in winter) & the other one has a big gut but poor topline. I have always felt we did a disservice to our horse friends by sticking them in stalls & feeding them unnaturally. I am grateful for your guidance in feeding a more natural diet. I will continue to follow.
Thank you and we all look forward to your updates.
It is 2 weeks today since my 26 yr old saddlebred went grain free. All seemed to be going well until day 9 when I noticed a change in her demeanor, acted tired, depressed, (if that’s possible for a horse). She was eating hay & grazing when I allowed it ( I have limited grass) but she wasn’t finishing her soaked T/A cubes & wasn’t especially excited at feeding time as she normally was. On day 10 I noticed her panting around 4 PM but a short hosing down seemed to fix her. Yesterday it was time to buy more T/A cubes so I went to Tractor Supply & saw a minicube made by Global Forage called Essentials which is supposed to be nutritionally complete with all the micro nutrients, macro minerals, electrolytes, pre biotics, trace minerals & essential amino acids. Protein is 12%. She ate about half of what i gave her this morning. She may have lost a little weight across her topline. Given this has been the hottest Sept. on record I guess I can be happy she isn’t overheated & panting but I’m worried she’s missing something. Should I add a protein source like soybean meal & if so, how much? Also normally I would be starting a week of orange flavored metamucil added to their feed to clear sand. It’s loaded with sugar so I’m not going to use it. Do you have another recommendation to prevent sand colic? I haven’t ridden her since the middle of May but when the weather cools I hope to be able to do some trail riding again. Thanks for whatever advise you can give. Janet
Your comment here represents what every horse owner goes through when they change what they feed their horse. What people expect is instant or at least rapid results even against severe weather with no loss before the gain. Let me help to explain this.
In south FL September is very hot and it has been warm everywhere. Add to this that starting on June 22nd the daylight has been decreasing. September 22nd we had equal time of day and night. The result of this is a lengthening and thickening hair coat in preparation of winter. The solution to this is a full body hair cut plus fans as this is the most challenging period for any horse.
Older horses (such as your 26 year old) has had gut inflammation from grain for years. It may take 6 to 12 months of no added inflammatory feeds to heal this gut fully. In other words by next spring you will see the full effects of gut healing. Losing a “little weight across her top line” is clear evidence that her gut was inflamed as the new diet allows her to remove the fat (a sign of gut inflammation) and now you are seeing the lost muscle (another sign of gut inflammation, mitochondrial exhaustion, gluconeogenesis). Please read all the blogs at https://theequinepractice.com/travels-with-doc-t/horse-nutrition/. Consider taking the nutrition course I offer to dig deeper.
Horses need protein but adding it in a “complete feed” as you describe here is fraught with danger. You must read the ingredients. For an example of this read my “Betrayal” blog unless you already know what lignin sulfates are https://theequinepractice.com/betrayal/
Janet – as owners of horses we really need to know how to feed them correctly and I am very glad you are looking for good information on this. Horses are not like cars that have been engineered to run with little input other than clean gasoline. They have evolved in a specific way over 55 million years. Humans have “complicated” feeding them and you, like so many others, are trusting the feed companies and the feed dealers to help you give your horse the best for them. But their agenda is NOT feeding your horse as she has been developed as (a wonderful hind gut fermentor) but as a place to put their products. From my position of 45 years with horses I am privileged but horrified to see the adverse changes in the horses (and in the humans) over the years. Please read the blogs fully and you will be given good information that have come from human doctors who are also shocked at the health problems we are seeing today. I have extrapolated this new information for horse use as everything is the same between humans and horses after the raw materials ingested have been digested. Cell for cell, we are virtually the same.
Hi Dr. Tucker. Thanks for your reply. I don’t think I was clear in my description of the minicube I bought from TS. On the bag it lists only sun cured T & A & “nutritional supplement formulation”. It promises no grain or grain by-products. I went to their website for more information on the nutritional supplement but found nothing so I called the company & left a message. Haven’t heard back yet. My mare has perked up a bit & as of 9/30 my rocky mountain gelding with the big gut & poor topline is now grain free. My mare was body clipped in June & again two weeks ago. Last night the weatherman said this has been the hottest month on record in this part of Florida, not just Sept. I can believe it. In a couple weeks I will try to get some soy bean meal. None of the feed stores around here carry it except by special order. I have been reading your other blogs & think you recommend it for at least a year until the gut inflammation is resolved. I still am uncertain what to do about sand elimination I have not had colic with any of my current horses but lost one years ago to it. I never want to go thru that again. Any suggestions? Thanks so much. Janet
There are several companies hiding their ingredients in words like “nutritional supplement formulation” because it is legal to do so. This allows the company to change the ingredients without printing new labels.
To clarify what I am saying about SBM, it is used to replaced the lost amino acids due to gut inflammation. The inflammation is reduced as soon as the offending agents are removed and may take up to 6 weeks to resolve completely. However the lost amino acids in the hoof will take a year to be fully replaced while the top line will take from 6 to 12 months. The hair coat will improve in 1 to 2 weeks from the SBM. You are correct though in thinking that the SBM should be given for about a year and once the effects are achieved, you will be able to reduce the amount given by half.
Sand colic is very interesting and brings fear to every owner who have horses on sand (any shore line and island). What most people are agreeing on now is that a healthy gut with a forage diet should prevent sand colic. It is the decreased gut motility from inflammation and a grain based diet that in some horses causes accumulation of sand. I am not aware of good scientific studies of this but it would appear to be logical. In addition it would be wise to keep all hay off the sandy surface (hay feeders, clean up spilled hay daily). If you find your horse pulling up the grass and sucking the roots then this could add to the sand intake. The reason a horse does this is because sub tropical and tropical grasses store their starch in the roots to protect against drought. When horses discover this they suck the roots for sugar.
I was able to get the nutritional supplement information from ForageGlobal Essential. I have re-read your nutritional segments betrayal & electrolyte, mineral etc. & think I will purchase non supplemented T & A cubes or pellets when these are gone unless you think they are ok. The Essential alfalfa cubes have added to them soybean meal, canola meal, salt, yeast culture, monosodium phosphate, mold inhibitor, monocalcium phosphate,dicalcium phosphate, potassium chloride, DL-Alpha-Tocopherol Acetate, mangnesium oxide, zinc sulphate, iron sulfate, manganese sulfate, sodium selenite, sulphur, copper sulfate, calcium iodate. When I buy more alfalfa/timothy compressed would pellets be ok to use unsoaked? I don’t think any of my horses have any issues with chewing. Just this one more question & i will quit bugging you until I give an update. With cooler weather coming I will have to wait till next summer for a true evaluation but I will stick with it. But as it stands now, I am ecstatic to see my horses comfortable in this heat. This comment will be out of order from the others since there was no “reply” button after the exchange of Oct. 2 & 3. Thank you so much.
This is the simple way fo feed horses:
OK Got it! The next horse to go grain free is my grade mare. She was a rescue so I know very little about her but a couple years ago she developed an itchy skin condition. The vet said it was an allergy to bug bites. I hope grain free helps her because nothing much else has. Thank you.
Adding protein (soy bean meal) to a non-inflamed gut will replace the protein loss in the immune system which will help skin problems.
Remember that the microbiome of the gut continues on the skin and in our lungs. Collectively it is known as the holobiome. Reduce daily washing with soap to maybe once a week with only water rinsing in between. This allows the normal skin flora to remain which will protect the skin.
Thank you for your response. I stopped
The supplements and we’re on day 2. I will keep you posted.
I just started my 25 year old Cushings mare on Triple Crown Lite thinking it was grain free. After reading the comments here about the sources of inflammation and what to avoid, I looked at the ingredients of TCL again. It is labeled grain free but has a list of things that could contribute to my mares anhydrosis.
Here are the ingredients:
Soybean Hulls, Wheat Middlings, Dehydrated Alfalfa Meal, Distillers Dried Grains, Ground Flaxseed, Calcium Carbonate, Vitamin E Supplement, Salt, Sodium Bicarbonate, Dicalcium Phosphate, Yeast Extract, Yeast Culture, Calcium Silicate, Dried Enterococcus Faecium Fermentation Product, Dried Lactobacillus Acidophilus Fermentation Product, Dried Bacillus Subtilis Fermentation Product, Dried Trichoderma Longibrachiatum Fermentation Extract, Dried Bacillus Subtilis Fermentation Extract, Zinc Hydroxy Chloride, Manganese Hydroxy Chloride, Copper Hydroxy Chloride, Vegetable Oil, Butyric Acid, Zinc Oxide, Peppermint Essential Oil, Kelp Meal, Magnesium Oxide, Fenugreek Seed, Lecithin, Anise, Magnesium Proteinate, Selenium Yeast, L-Lysine, DL-methionine, L-Threonine, L-Leucine, Ascorbic Acid (Source of Vitamin C), Niacin Supplement, Biotin, Vitamin A Supplement, Vitamin E Supplement, Thiamine Mononitrate, Beta Carotene, Calcium Pantothenate, Riboflavin Supplement, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Soybean Oil, Choline Chloride, Menadione Sodium Bisulfite Complex (Source of Vitamin K Activity), Folic Acid, Hydrated Sodium Calcium Aluminosilicate, Manganese Sulfate, Lignin Sulfonate, Brewers Dried Yeast, Zinc Sulfate, Copper Sulfate, Cobalt Proteinate, Iron Amino Acid Complex, Ethylenediamine Dihydroiodide, (Propionic Acid, Sodium Benzoate, Potassium Sorbate (Preservatives)).
What feed is best for the 2 week grain free trial?
Ashley – No one knows the root cause of anhidrosis in horses but it was a interesting finding that horses with anhidrosis, once removed from all inflammatory ingredients, started to sweat again! The connection between gut inflammation and the inability to sweat is certain but the mechanism is not.
Almost every ingredient you list here is inflammatory. They are basically byproducts of the grain and seed industry (soybean hullabaloos, wheat middlings, distillers dried grains, ground flaxseed), inflammatory oils (vitamin E, Vegetable oil, peppermint oil, soybean oil) and unnecessary ingredients (the rest). The only good ingredients are alfalfa and salt. I love butyric acid but the gut microbes make this from digesting cellulose in the forage. There is uncertainty that bacteria in the food ever make it past the stomach acid (designed to kill foreign bacteria and probiotics are not usually found in fecal exams).
The addition of minerals (chelated or otherwise), vitamins, yeasts, bacteria and other inorganic elements is really unnecessary if the gut microbes are healthy and you horse has access to pasture, good quality hay, mined salt and ground water. These are the only ingredients horses need. When pasture and good quality hay is limited then you need to add supplements and the most important of them ALL is high quality protein (all the essential amino acids).
I always love to add the questions of these feeds: Who made the ingredients? Where were they stored and for how long and in what conditions? Where is the guarantee that the label is what is in the bag? No manufacturer is willing to have an independent verification of their product. But things made by nature are usually spot on (pasture, good quality hay, high quality protein).
The short answer to your question is this. Feed your horses pasture, hay (if needed), ground water (not filtered or bottled) and mined salt (Himalayan). That’s it! When your horse starts to sweat then asses his protein deficiency and add high quality protein.
There are some horses that take a while especially if the temperature in F added to the humidity (no percent) is above 180. Example 95 degrees and 90% humidity = 185. Most horses are sweating in 3 to 4 days. Join the Facebook group “The Horse’s Advocate” and search for sweating to read about others who have gone through this.
Hello, we finally made the move north about 9 days ago. My mare was doing really well for a while before the move. She was even starting to sweat on her back, still patchy but it was there. She had been so much better that I was leaving her out full days at a time and her breathing rate was still fine. Then we moved. It’s definitely cooler here than where we were before, yet she stopped sweating completely. No grain, treats, etc. She is getting a different kind of grass hay than the Bermuda she was receiving before, I think it’s pronably some kind of KY bluegrass mix. The school provides it. Still just getting some hay cubes in the morning and evening with one AC, as she has been for the past couple months. Today I left her out for a while longer than I normally do just to test and see if she would sweat at all, since it was much hotter today. Absolutely nothing, even in the spots she had previously been sweating in normally (since it was only a partial anhidrosis diagnosis). Even when it’s in the 70s, she doesn’t sweat. I’m keeping her in under fans half the day right now, and she’s ok like that. But I just can’t figure out why moving back to cooler weather would somehow make things worse. Stress maybe. She got really attached to the herd she’s with right now, and gets panicky every time she comes inside, which is also not like her. I have not tried the protein. No grain, treats, etc (nothing but hay, grass, and one AC) since I began this back in June…? Anyways, that’s my update for now. Hoping she settles in and improves. :/
Stress is an underrated cause of many things in life – both horse and human. We still don’t know the cause of anhydrosis.
The grass in the north will have a higher sugar content because subtropic grass stores starch in the roots and KY bluegrass stores it in the shaft and leaf.
Adding protein is essential to improving the health of horses. While the bluegrass will have a bit more protein, adding soy bean meal will be a good addition. Also, if the 1AC isn’t working, why still use it? All medications affect the gut microbes and if you are giving that and any other medicines (bute, pergolide, ulcer meds, etc) then this will have an effect.
Stay in touch and know that cooler weather is around the corner.
I have an older (28ish?) thouroughbred with anhydrosis for the last 5 years or so. He was in a boarding situation and moved to our house in south Florida almost two years ago. He has a very hard time in the summer with each summer getting worse. We have tried equiwinner patches, one AC, beer, bevs liquid, herbals with no success. He had labs and was tested for cushings and diabetes, both negative, because of a very heavy coat and a goiter that seems to go up and down. He is just miserable. He goes out at night, since it’s too hot in the day and he would spend all day in the pond which resulted in some hoof problems. We leave his stall door open in the day and hose him when we see him got to the wash mats. He has us well trained.
Currently he is on Buckeye Eq8 gut health and groNwin with mega flex HA for joints. He seems to lose a small
Amount of weight every summer so we upped his feed this summer with no weight gain. I have to get a tape but but he doesn’t look like he’s lost any this summer. Poor topline. He does ok one temp is down in 70s but that doesn’t last very long and we shave him
Probably 4-5 times a year.
I’ve been reading through all of your articles and started no grain this am. I did Give him a scoop of soaked Timothy/alfalfa pellets and changed his salt block from a Redmond rock to plain white salt. He gets Timothy/alfalfa or orchard alfalfa in a slow feed bag (always filled) while in stall. I did get some straight alfalfa to supplement protein as I’m sure he’s deficient also after reading your articles. I did him his mega flex this am but was concerned because the second ingredient after water is dextrose then Xanthum gum. I ordered coolstance, since it’s not available locally but it won’t be here until 9/4. I just don’t want him to lose anymore weight. Our pastures are green and there is plenty of grass right now. I have 5 horse on approximately 7 acres. I plan to switch them all over to no grain but was focusing on him and a 23 year old paint that is an easy keeper, so didn t have as many concerns with her as my really old guy. They both received the same feed and supplement this am.
Sorry this is so long, but I guess my main concerns were is this ok until I get coolstance? Should I continue the mega flex ha? I saw that I shouldn’t add protein until the 14 days are done. At that time should I give the groNwin? It was in your list but had some
Questionable ingredients. Should I add a bit of the straight alfalfa now?
Thank you for all the information! I really want this to work since we were just discussing sending him away next summer to the mountains so he would be more comfortable but I hate to do that.
Hi Stacey – Let’s keep this simple. Your primary goal is to get him sweating again. To do this you have tried a few things with poor results. Now you want to try the no-grain approach. This is how to do that:
1) feed only pasture, hay as needed (grass and or legume), water and salt.
2) feed nothing else for 2 weeks to let the gut repair itself from the inflammation from the other ingredients. THIS INCLUDES all supplements and treats (sugar, cookies, carrots, apples, etc.
3) write down all your observations and date them so you can verify the orderly improvement in an otherwise chaotic life.
4) read all the blogs I have on feeding horses here: https://theequinepractice.com/travels-with-doc-t/horse-nutrition/ Also consider enrolling in the Horsemanship Nutrition Course if you want to dig deeper.
Specifically, don’t feed your joint supplement or coolstance. Do not feed grow and win or other protein products with questionable ingredients ( I really need to update this chart – a protein update blog coming next week). Use soy bean meal as the best source of a variety of amino acids.
Let us all know how works out. Remember that very old horses with long standing inflammation may only become damp rather than sweating abundantly but this is still a win.
I’ve been the care taker of my TB Chance for over seven years. I say care taker because his endless health issues have resulted in very little of the typical relationship I looked forward to having when I got my dream horse seven years ago. I couldn’t believe how lucky I was to get such a well trained 16.3 HH stunner for my new partner, they sky was the limit. That dream fell a part quickly and my horse thoughts became consumed with joint issues, back pains, general bad attitude, anxiety, bucking, ulcers, cushings and then non sweating. It seemed like once I got one thing under control another would come up. My husband called me “The Supplement Queen” it was true but not funny. I was on my way to vacation pondering the last episode of his non sweating and struggling with the SC heat, when my good friend sent me the link to Dr.T’s non sweating you tube video. Every single symptom he listed off Chance has. I was at my wits and bank accounts end and had just had “the conversation” with my vet who advised to see the rest of the summer through unless he went down. I was that close to giving up! As soon as we got back Chance was pulled off of all of the feed and supplements. He was on alfalfa pellets and O/A hay things were going great! Then about two weeks in he’s acting with worry and anxiety and not finishing his feed. I panic and send a PM to Dr. T fb page asking for help. Were these his ulcers again? Guilt was wracking me for taking him off of his supplements. Then the Dr. responded and offered to call me. He gave me so much information on how Chances battered system is recovering and guided me to changes in his diet , adding protein now. Chance is doing great, his sweating is increasing, his anxiety is back down, and he greats me for pets and kisses at the gate. His weight, despite always being a hard keeper, is normal and hasn’t changed at all. His body shape seems to be changing and his coat is shining. I know we have a ways to go on this but I’m actually hopeful that one day soon I’ll be able to saddle up and go for a quiet ride we both enjoy again. Thank you so much for the help and all of your research!!
My pleasure Julie. Please keep us posted with updates and if sure of the good results, then share with others so they too can have happy stories to tell.