HAY is for HOOVES ... I'll say it again.


It appears that last week's blog really frosted the cake. 

So many views; so many comments. 


Even the two readers who refuted what was being said in the blog post. --

I asked what was disagreeable and so 'dangerous' but didn't get an answer. 

I was asked to show references for my statements about GMOs and other stuff ... so, let's go at it today. Hang on ... this may be long. 

1st:  My opening statement: "Did you know that restricting forage (hay) is the MOST stressful thing you can do to your horse?" 

Here's An Excerpt from Equine Cushing's Disease - Nutritional Management, Juliet M. Getty, Ph.D. 

"The All-important Pituitary Gland

Let’s look now at the pituitary gland and the damaging pathway of Cushing’s. The pituitary gland is suspended from the hypothalamus at the base of the brain. There are three significant hormone-releasing lobes of the pituitary gland. The first one is the pars distalis, which secretes prolactin, endorphins, growth hormones, follicle-stimulating hormone, luteinizing hormone, and thyroid-stimulating hormone. The second lobe is the pars nervosa, which controls water balance by secreting the antidiuretic hormone commonly known as vasopressin; it also secretes the hormone oxytocin. And finally, there’s the lobe involved with equine Cushing’s, and that is the pars intermedia. The pars intermedia produces peptide hormones known as proopiomelanocortin peptides (POMC, for short) which include things like alpha-MSH (melanocyte stimulating hormone, responsible for skin pigmentation) and beta-endorphins (which cause relaxation and improved pain tolerance); in horses this particular lobe produces ACTH, the regulation of which is at the heart of the Cushing’s problem itself.

Let’s look at a normal situation where the horse is experiencing some kind of stress—maybe he’s exercising intensely or has mental stress. He may be in pain, or suffering from an empty stomach (more on that later). It doesn’t matter what the cause of the stress is—whenever there’s some kind of stressor, the pituitary gland will release ACTH.  

The healthy body has a homeostatic mechanism to handle hormones: their levels can rise and fall and are maintained within a normal range. Stress stimulates the hypothalamus to release corticotropin releasing hormone (CRH). CRH signals the pituitary gland (pars intermedia) to release ACTH, which then stimulates the adrenal gland to secrete the stress-hormone known as cortisol. To bring cortisol levels back to normal, cortisol will stimulate certain neurons in the brain (hypothalamus) to produce the neurotransmitter, dopamine. Dopamine, in turn, tells the pituitary gland to stop secreting ACTH, which then causes cortisol production from the adrenal gland to subside.

However, with oxidative stress over a period of time, those dopamine-producing neurons that are activated by cortisol become fewer and fewer in number. The hypothalamus is no longer able to produce enough dopamine; without adequate dopamine to signal it to stop, the pituitary gland continues to pump out ACTH. An increase in ACTH then leads to an increase in cortisol levels, which in turn causes the pituitary gland to hypertrophy or enlarge. When that happens, the cells of the pars intermedia start to divide and enlarge; they can form tumors (benign adenomas), which can put pressure on the other areas of the pituitary gland as well as on the hypothalamus, leading to a whole variety of symptoms, the “dysfunction” part of the name, PPID."



Another way to think on restricting forage is to think what happens as a NATURAL part of the horse's survival ... the horse eats abundance of forage in the summertime to pack on the extra fat and calories needed for the sparse times in the winter when there isn't abundant food.  

So, logically, when a horse is deprived of forage his body automatically retains what forage he does get as ... fat. The body is "stressing".  Not good for metabolic horses! Or, any horse, for that matter! 

From there we can go to, "Everything lands in the hooves." ... So when the horse is stressed the stress affects the WHOLE HORSE including his HOOVES! 

It's that simple. 

2.  A favorite topic of mine is GMO/GE food. I was asked to show studies and references to back up my 'claims' .... 

Well, there are no studies showing detrimental effects of GMO food on Equine ... however, there are numbers who have done studies that show detrimental effects on other animals. One can draw conclusions from those.  I'll give just one example, or a couple, for each out of many resources:  

Let's take one example from www.independentsciencenews.org/:

GE Soybeans Give Altered Milk and Stunted Offspring, Researchers Find", Jonathan Latham, PhD --

“It is already known that Roundup Ready soybeans have various defects including a Manganese deficiency. Yet regulators and GMO developers have continuously dismissed credible reports of GMO crops causing apparent harm to animals, from many different research groups.” Said Dr Allison Wilson of The Bioscience Resource Project."

So, what is usually included in processed Equine Feed? 


The article sources references, "References
Tudisco R., V. Mastellone, M. I. Cutrignelli, P. Lombardi, F. Bovera, N. Mirabella, G. Piccolo, S. Calabrò, L. Avallone and F. Infascelli (2010) Fate of transgenic DNA and evaluation of metabolic effects in goats fed genetically modified soybean and in their offspringsAnimal 4: 1662-1671.
Tudisco R., S. Calabrò, M.I. Cutrignelli, G. Moniello, M. Grossi, V. Mastellone, P. Lombardi, M.E. Pero, F. Infascelli (2015) Genetically modified soybean in a goat diet: Influence on kid performance. Small Ruminant Research 126: 67–74.


"We therefore conclude that our data strongly suggests that these GM maize varieties induce a state of hepatorenal toxicity. " --articles on Three GM Corn Varieties on Mammalian Health

WHAT is "hepatorenal toxicity" you ask?  Hepatorenal syndrome is a condition in which there is progressive kidney failure.

In simple terms, "hepatorenal toxicity" is KIDNEY TOXICITY. 

Further from the same scientific study ... "Our analysis highlights that the kidneys and liver as particularly important on which to focus such research as there was a clear negative impact on the function of these organs in rats consuming GM maize varieties for just 90 days." (bold emphasis mine for clarity) 


According to the 2011 International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications report today, in the United States, a HUGE proportion of the most commonly grown commodity crops are genetically engineered: 95% of the nation's sugar beets, 94% of our soybeans, 90% of the cotton and 88% of the feed corn. Not to mention wheat, alfalfa, barley, canola, papaya and more. (That being said I did mention a good quality timothy/alfalfa hay as being a good forage source ... I use a 80/20 ratio of Timothy/Alfalfa ... 80% Timothy with 20% non-GMO Alfalfa from CAN. Beware the Alfalfa from USA) 

Shall I continue?  

Probably not. 

But, but ... these studies are for HUMANS; not HORSES.  Well,  -- we're both mammalian critters and one can assume that the manner in which these things affect humans the same applies to horses!  Or, as the studies are done on other mammals ... they also apply to horses. One cannot apply the results of studies on animals for humans and say, "but this doesn't apply to equine!" ... *wink* 

One HAS to really stop and think, when reading the ingredients on the processed feed labels, and wonder how the overall health of the animal is related at all to the food. Is the animal's health being compromised? But that's something that each horse owner has to determine for his or her own self. 

As for the mention of Lysine and Methionine being essential for healthy hooves, what contention is there for that?  I think that portion of last week's blog was overlooked. 


Well .. I think you get the idea. My statements in last week's blog are not unfounded nor are they unstudied. 

I would suggest further studies, on the readers' behalf, if more information is wanted. 

REMEMBER -- EVERYTHING LANDS IN THE HOOVES. It may start elsewhere in the mind or body but it lands in the hooves. What goes IN, grows OUT. 

As for withholding forage for metabolic horses?  Well, I would like everyone to think on this ... what do wild horses eat? Do they even GET metabolic conditions? We may have to continue this discussion even further to figure out WHY domestics are suffering in far greater numbers now than 30 years ago. We could take good lessons from the feral herds, though. 


The images above are surely anecdotal - they are of my own mare, Misty. Late stage Cushings and IR. You can see the difference in her between March and August. Simply from changing the way I fed her. She was not on any medication other than individual-tailored/determined herbs with her fresh forages (salads - also tailored to her specifically) that included free choice hay and grazing. She also received Homeopathic treatment. The last pic is from June 2010. She maintained her health until she succumbed to DSLD and snapped her rear suspensory ligament. We have her euthanized in Sept. 2010. 

I've watched the degeneration of our horses and their hooves for a long, long time now. I've lived and played with horses for over 50 years. The rapidity of their numbers in decline of health, overall, in recent decades is more than worrisome ... it is downright frightening to me. As such, I'm on this journey still.

And I WILL continue to be a voice for those who have none.  

What does YOUR horse say? 

Ta-ta for now! 



Gwenyth Browning Jones Santagate is the best-selling author of 10 Secrets to Healthy Hooves as well as a noted author for various international equine publications including The Horses Hoof, Equine Wellness, Natural Horse Planet as well as a contributing author for the 2001 United States Federal Mounted Border Patrol Training Manual. For the last 37+ years, she has maintained healthy hooves with natural trimming on thousands of horses and specialized in pathological rehabilitation hoofcare for the last 20 years. She and her husband John keep a small herd of their own equine in SW Florida and continue to offer consults for horses in need. You can email to Gwen -- gwen.santagate@gmail.com or telephone in the US (23)-573-9687. For further information please click here:  www.thepenzancehorse.com/2012/RESUME.pdf 

LIVE, ONLINE COURSE with Gwenyth Santagate begins Sept. 13, 2017. For more information and to register (limited reserved spots) go here:  integrative horsecourses










Hi Deborah. Yes, I strongly recommend adding fresh, raw for ages into the diet. Leafy greens, veggies, fruits etc. Please email to me for more information. gwen.santagate@ gmail.com

Gwenyth Santagate August 11, 2017

Hi I have a chunky traditional cob who is barefoot. I am always concerned that he will put too much weight on but being on a livery yard have to manage him as best I can. He is on a fairly short grassed paddock (not ideal) but is fed adlib haylage, him and his field mate are never without forage. I have found that he seems to regulate his weight and his feet seem very good. I feed him a balancer (forageplus winter because of the amount of haylage) with a very small amount of sugar free chaff. Is there anything else you would suggest to enhance his diet??? He is 6 and I have had from 3. Thanks Deb

Deborah Sellers August 09, 2017

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