How Digestive Comfort Affects a Horse’s Temperament
Attitude: Resistance and Poor Ground Manners
Do you want your horse to keep his ears up and respond positively when being handled? Do you like your horse when he’s excited and ready to go when you saddle him up? Too often, common ground manners are punished as bad habits–but sometimes digestive health is the answer.
Girthy Horses: Hindgut Sensitivity
Girthy horses – grouchiness, kicking, biting, or even falling down when tightening the girth–is a pretty common complaint among horse owners. For some horses with bad habits of biting and kicking, grouchy is putting it mildly.
The stomach is relatively small and sits higher up in the horse’s gut–nowhere near where we tighten the girth. Actually, it’s the colon, part of the hindgut that reaches up into the horse’s belly near the girth.
Barn Vice: Cribbing and the Stomach
Cribbing is notorious in the equestrian industry as either a learned or genetic behavior. Prevailing thought says bring one cribber into a barn and pretty soon you’ll have a barn-full. However, studies have also shown that cribbing can have its roots in the stomach.
When horses have large meals just a few times a day, they spend huge chunks of the day with nothing to eat. But their digestive tracts are designed for a constant influx of high-forage foods. One key reason is that the steady supply of small amounts of grass and hay buffer the acids in the stomach and keep the levels balanced. And when horses suck air while holding onto a solid object with their teeth, also known as cribbing, it helps to relieve discomfort.
Condition the Gut to Support a Positive Temperament
By maintaining the healthy structure and function of the digestive system, your horse is happy, healthy and willing (and able) to perform to potential.