EquiBiome explains why the current downtime presents owners with the perfect opportunity to get on top of gut health to improve performance when competition resumes. It is unlikely that there is anyone that hasn’t felt the disruption of COVID-19.
For horses owners, short to medium term competition plans are now on hold and for those not able to see their horses if livery yards are on lockdown, even their daily care and exercise has been placed solely in the hands of others.
With changes to finances and daily routine many of us have been left with no choice but to let horses down and turn them away for the summer. However, whether horses are in work or not, the current down time provides you with the perfect opportunity to get on top of any gut issues and ensure your horse is in optimum health once restrictions are lifted and competing begins again.
If you have a horse that isn’t maintaining condition, responding to medication or is underperforming, the microbiome may provide the answer, restoration of the biome can take weeks or months, so now is a good time to start.
Why is gut health so important?
The bacteria of the hind gut make a huge contribution to the health of your horse, including temperament, energy levels, nutrient availability and vitamin production. Your horse is what he eats and the success of the diet depends first of all on what is going on in the gut.
Scientific research has linked every common gastrointestinal health problem to the gut bacteria. Horses with colitis, colic, inflammation, EMS and laminitis have different gut bacteria than those that are healthy. The ‘biome’ is a ‘whole community’, the bacteria interact with each other, producing benefits and interacting with their host.
Pathogenic bacteria (disease causing ‘bad’ bacteria) can take over the microbiome community if not kept in check by the good gut bacteria. Many pathogenic bacteria can travel from the gut to other parts of the body where they can cause health problems for horses.
Knowing what type and how many of the good and the bad bacteria, gives valuable insight into the type of diet that can help, and the type of pro and prebiotic that will suit the biome. Many of the bacteria within the list of pathogens are linked to gastrointestinal upsets such as diarrhoea, inflammation and discomfort. The Equibiome Test identifies them all and gives insight into management.
Managing the hind gut has never been possible before the development of next generational sequencing of the bacteria DNA. The test is so accurate that it can identify water contamination (arsenic/nitrate/nitrite), dietary deficiencies, mineral and vitamin imbalances, acidosis, antibiotic resistant bacteria and emerging pathogens. EquiBiome uses Illumina MiSeq to generate the test report, this is the most accurate and up to date technology, preferred by geonomic researchers around the world.
In horses, the knowledge and science relating to the microbiome and its links to health and disease are increasing thanks to EquiBiome as they have the largest library of equine data in the world and they use this information to identify and accurately describe what makes up a healthy biome.
How can the test help me to improve my horse’s performance?
A balanced gut will enable your horse to utilise the diet effectively to power performance. The bacteria, fungi, archaea and protozoa, living in the hind gut are directly responsible for energy metabolism. Energy metabolites can be easily collected and analysed to give a full picture of the microbiome. This information gives valuable insight into the energy produced and whether it is sufficient for performance horses. The Test will also tell you if there are any imbalances associated with discomfort.
How do I take the EquiBiome Test?
The EquiBiome Test Kit is ordered online at equibiome.org and once it arrives follow the instructions and return your horse’s faecal sample for testing. You will then receive a detailed report with recommendations to improve your horse’s gut health.
With the right management, based on facts not guess work, your horse’s gut health can be improved.
The EquiBiome gene extraction process can take 6-8 weeks so this is the right time to collect your horse’s faecal sample and return it promptly so we get the analysis done and back to you in time for the restart of competing.
For further information or to order an EquiBiome Test Kit please visit equibiome.org and follow the ‘EquiBiome’ page on Facebook.