Hi Dr. Tucker!
Finally here is my note on Winnie’s “gut story.”
I bought a beautiful US-bred Hanoverian mare as a 3-year-old – 6 years ago (2009). She is now 9 and showing 3rd level. We have had a very successful show year this past year. As all horse owners and dedicated dressage riders know the climb to the top of the dressage scale is a journey which demands that the horse and rider be in top condition.
All was going well with my mare, Wiona Champ, (Winnie), until the end of December 2013 when I started noticing what I will call liquid squirts. At first I thought she was just coming into heat. Her manure was always normal but in between manuring she started to have liquid squirts. So I put her on some gut supplements. She was also getting Senior feed and triple Crown 30%. For a very short time the liquid squirts stopped. But one month later they came back more than before. I decided with the help of my nutritionist to change her feed. The was in March 2014. But the squirts kept happening and now more than ever and when I finally took all her blankets off in the Spring of 2014 I noticed that my mare was really bloated. She looked fat and she was lacking energy.
I called the vet and had blood work done which came back normal. Still had no explanation to the liquid squirts. But I knew something was burning her inside. I was getting increasingly worried and frustrated as no one seemed to have any kind of explanation. I changed her feed around again but to no avail.
Finally I spoke to Dr. Tucker who encouraged me to take Winnie off all feed and put her on just forage. I started noticing a huge difference. The liquid squirts completely disappeared after about 4 weeks. The nutritionist agreed that Winnie is definitely wheat/gluten intolerant. We decided to leave her on the forage for another month as she was not showing at the time.
In January of 2015, I put Winnie on a diet of only oats. I felt she needed a bit more than just the forage. And Winnie was starting to not eat her Safe starch forage! I think she had enough of eating “salad” all the time! My mare is now in the best condition she has ever been in. She is a mass of beautiful muscles! No fat and no bloating and she has very good energy. I can tell she is extremely happy and has a very good work ethic.
She is on a strict diet of only crimped oats and some vitamins. I have also learned that most feed companies will use the leftover wheat in which to encase the vitamins. So one has to watch out for that too. I am very careful of her treats. If you read the labels of all the yummy looking treats, most of them contain a lot of wheat.
I hope this is helpful to horse owners who may be going through the same issues. Wish I had known what I know now earlier but that is part of the journey!