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Ask Dr. Dave

Lisa from Virginia, writes:

Dear Dr. Dave,

I have been dealing with a horse for the past two years that would not hold adjustments and his back was continually sore. I finally found a saddle that fit him, but my vet recommended soaked beet pulp and flax, more heat-producing than grains. Like magic, my horse is holding adjustments, although I am wondering about a good mineral supplement. Do you have a recommendation? Sharon recommended rice bran to be fed alone. Can I add it to the beet pulp? My horse feels good now (a long time coming) and I would like to continue to help him without overloading him. Thanks!

Dear Lisa,

Thank you for your great questions about your horse. I am glad your horse is holding his adjustments and is now feeling much better.

From what you say, it's likely that your new saddle is helping a lot and is probably why your horse is feeling better. Adjusting can always help a horse, however, if the cause of the problem is not removed, the problem will most always return; therefore, a better fitting saddle is always helpful. Keep in mind that as your horse's weight changes, or due to age, his conformation changes, and a saddle that once was a good fit could become a poor fit.

I consider beet pulp to be nutritionally somewhere between hay and grain. I have found it helpful in putting weight on some horses. Flax is usually fed because of its high fat content, but there is some disagreement as to its digestibility. Rice bran has also been fed because of its high fat content which is usually around 20%. The drawback to raw rice bran is that the fat can become rancid and is not healthy nor tasteful to the horse. There are, however, several brands of rice brand that are processed in a manner that "fixes" the fat so that it doesn't spoil. I would recommend one of these brands. Rice bran in a pellet form can be fed alone, mixed with grain, or with the beet pulp. I have always been a fan of rice bran as a source of fat and as a coat conditioner.

Thank you for your questions and I hope your horse continues to do well.

Happy trails and fast clocks,

Dr. Dave