Over the course of time, man’s domestication of the horse has resulted in many alterations of its natural behaviors. In particular, the contents and frequency of the equine diet have been adjusted to make their care more convenient for humans. Horses have been converted from free-ranging foragers who are frequently on the move searching for roughage, to stalled companions that are fed some combination of hay, grain and various supplements 1-3 times a day. Rather than ingesting frequent small meals, most horses eat larger portions rapidly and then spend hours at a time with no roughage to ingest and pass through their gastro-intestinal tract. This trend towards fewer and larger meals can greatly impact the health of the horse both physically and mentally. From their teeth, to their stomach and down through the intestinal tract, an alteration from the natural feeding habits of the horse can lead to impaired function or even full-blown disease of these animals.
In the following articles a brief overview of the anatomy and function of the horse’s digestive tract in its normal functioning state, in addition to the various states of disease caused by less than ideal husbandry practices. Finally, preventative measures which can be used through proper diet and husbandry practices will be concluded. The purpose is to refresh your memory or learn something new.