Horse Sense


An exceptionally beautiful quarter horse eats a banana, goes into muscle spasms and paralysis, suffers irregular heartbeat and obstructed airways, then topples over and dies.

What’s wrong with the horse?


It had a defective gene – the same one responsible for its beautiful musculature, giving it hyperkalemic periodic paralysis.

Tens of thousands of quarter horses in the U.S.A. have this gene, affecting their ability to metabolize potassium rich foods like alfalfa and bananas.

Evidence suggests they inherited the gene from one particular stallion used as a stud in the 1970’s and 80’s. Tests can be done to identify the gene, so it could be eliminated in a single generation.

Breeders, however, may not want to get rid of the gene, which many believe, add to the beauty of the horses, raised as much for show as for racing. Alternatively, the disease can be controlled by diet and diuretics.

Source - "365 Surprising Scientific Facts, Breakthroughs & Discoveries"



What are the factors that need to be considered when determining how much to feed your horse.


There are several factors that need to be considered when determining how much to feed your horse. One good place to start is with the feed tag. Typically, there are feeding instructions that will be adequate for the average horse under normal circumstances. Other considerations include:

  1. Foals less than six months of age eat 2 to 4% of their live weight in dry feed per day. Older horses eat about 1.5 to 2% of their live weight in dry feed per day.
  2. It takes about three pounds of green grass to equal one pound of dried grass. Horses on pasture often eat 60 to 100 pounds of grass each day in order to get enough dry matter to provide the needed nutrients. That is where the term "grass belly" came from, because they have to distend their belly so much to get sufficient feed into their system.
  3. A feed ration should be at least 50% roughage to ensure proper digestive tract function. If a ration needs to contain a higher percent of concentrate (grains) than 50%, some bulky grains such as oats should be used in the grain portion. In general, the portion of the ration that would be grain to meet the horse’s needs would be as follows: 0 to 10% for mature idle horses, 50 to 70% for weanlings, 50% for yearlings, 30% for two year olds in light training, and 20 to 70% for horses at work.