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 ‘Telling stories through my photos’

This article I write is inspired by social media and the many posts I have seen captioning the exact same heading , sharing stories of horses who have died all because someone has fed a horse  without knowing any history or potentially what they are feeding them.  Owners have been distraught as they visited their  beloved pet / family friend , which followed with shock and heartache.

For this I want to raise some awareness in a different way sharing my photos and explanations of why people should not feed horses.  People may go for a walk with their dogs or even for leisure taking last nights dinner along containing cuttings of carrots and other vegetables ,  visiting  horses and ponies upon  their walk hoping to feed them and get to stroke them but not realising  the events that can unfold from this which can actually be quite costly in various ways . 

The photo above is taken from a field where I keep my horses and this particular part of the field has been sectioned off for a couple of Cobs. I’m quite lucky in the fact no one can pass by the fields but for other horse lovers/owners they are not as lucky.  What most ‘non-horsey’ people may see or perceive is that there is no grass in this field and that the horses in the field may be hungry or starving or not kept well. In this particular field you can see hay alongside but for some fields they may not even have that, and yes in the above field its right to say that there is little to no grass, but behind this lies further explanations as to why horses can be kept in fields like these. 

Meet Caz, she is a 13.2 black cob  who survives on next to nothing and in the summer months it is more difficult to manage her weight which is why at a certain times of the year a section of the field is cornered off to manage her weight. Its in her best interest that we manage it this way, but to people not knowing her history , it may be seen as cruel or wrong.   

What happens if she is left  with no intervention and no section cornered off?

As the grass starts to come through, it can be sweet and contain a lot of sugars and with a high intake of soluble carbohydrates (sugars & starch) it can lead to laminitis.  When an excessive amount is ingested  there is an over load caused in the digestive system with the undigested sugar and starch. Bacteria breaks down the undigested material causing acidity in the gut, which kills the bacteria that digests fibre. As the bacteria dies it releases toxins into the gut, which are then passed into the bloodstream through the gut wall. These toxins provoke a response within the horse that disrupts blood flow, which, in the feet, can cause laminitis therefore causing them to be lame. In some cases colic can also occur which again can be severe and even fatal . Colic can also be a result of over consumption of high-carbohydrates and lush grass.

Meet Beauty , she is a 14.2 black cob  and shares the field with caz. For the first time in her life she had laminitis this year due to these sugars mentioned before . Was the grass sweeter this year or was there a change in food causing higher intake?

It was in fact the grass and that she got too much sugar. Beauty had severe laminitis which saw her  laying down and not being able to walk properly. It was touch and go whether  we could reverse the effects and bring her around. Weeks and weeks of stabling with foods with no sugars , feeding her bran and soaking her hay to remove most of the sugars in her food  saw her slowly come around to now where she is back in work and enjoying getting out and about .  Such foods can also be a factor which we also found in one of our miniature Shetlands this year  where the mix (food) was rich in molasses causing a high sugar intake. 

Because of Beauty getting laminitis  we have now had to put her in a sectioned off part of the field where we can manage the grass to ensure this don’t happen again. 

However the public unbeknown to any history of the horse may not realise that they can do harm rather than good when they are out on their walk feeding horses apples and carrots and various other foods which can even be poisonous  without knowing.  It also includes grass cuttings. 

Vet bills are not cheap!

If owners have been lucky enough to catch their horses in a state where laminitis or colic is treatable, it can still cost especially if an equine vet is involved.  I use the term ‘lucky’ as the alternative can often be death which I have seen many posts advise this where horses have died due to people feeding them .  But even if they are in time , the bills that come next to try and treat and save the horse are not so lucky  and costly. Call out fees and examinations before any drugs administered,  so if this does reach any ‘non-horsey’ folk please , please , please think about if your are ever tempted to feed a horse , please DO NOT  as you never know why they are on restricted grazing and even if they are not restricted to grazing , feeding them more sugars than what they are getting naturally from the grass can lead to laminitis and colic. Please be aware and  keep this in mind as its something that is seen all over social media and the heartache  pours out from owners where they have lost their horse due to this and if it was your dog, cat or anything that you love and was caused at the hands of someone else  not intentionally , you may also feel  hurt and upset. 

Caz and Beauty in their field together

If you liked the article , stay tuned and look out for more content as  I will also be writing different articles through the photos I have taken. 

I have listed the equipment used for the photos just in case you would like to know ;