In the Saddle with Linda: A new lease of life for Phoenix
How Alex and Paisley helped their older horse find health and happiness in his golden years.
At Poseidon Animal health, our Equine Team love hearing your firsthand experiences of learning about horse gut health, and the importance of diet and nutrition in helping your horse on a journey to wellness.
Our ‘In the Saddle with Linda’ series is an opportunity for Linda to chat with customers who use our products, to hear their own stories of the impact of our gut health supplements for horses, and the lessons they’ve learnt.
First up in the series: Alex and Paisley.
Based in Western Australia, Alex and Paisley have five horses and are both experienced in riding, training and caring for their herd.
They first decided to try Digestive EQ with Phoenix, their 23-year old horse, who has a history of stomach problems and ulcers. Although they’d tried him on various supplements and were working with a nutritionist, they could see he was still struggling with colicky hindgut pain. At the start of 2020, heavy rains led to a lot of weed growth and his consumption of Capeweed and Flatweed was only aggravating things further.
Alex says they’ve spent a lot of money over the years on Phoenix’s health, and had even been told he needed to be on omeprazole for the rest of his life. An expensive medication which suppresses colicky symptoms, but left him in an “unhappy limbo land”.
After seeing the dramatic difference Digestive EQ made for Phoenix, Alex and Paisley couldn’t resist trying it with their other horses, who although didn’t have the same health issues, could surely benefit from an improvement in their gut health and overall condition.
“Each of them really improved, but in different ways,” said Paisley.
“Some of the quirks that we’d put down to their personalities in terms of movement, posture or emotional things… we couldn’t help but want to find out what help it might give each of them,” she said.
“We now have all five horses on Poseidon Equine products.”
As Linda confirmed, gut health isn’t just linked to the way your horse looks, but also the way they feel, and the behaviours they display as a result.
“Horses make stomach acid all the time - unlike humans - and that acid serves a purpose. So when we suppress it for a long time there are consequences and compromises in terms of digestion,” said Linda.
For Phoenix, after a lifetime of digestive issues, things are looking up.
“He’s 23 and he’s probably in better health now than the whole time we’ve had him. His soundness, his posture… it’s really impressive,” said Alex.
Another of their horses, Griffin, has shown great equine health improvements after trying Digestive EQ as part of his diet.
“We got him as a performance horse, and although he was very pleasant to be around, there was often a feeling of lethargy, a sense that he didn’t want to move,” said Paisley.
Since having him on Digestive EQ, Griffin’s whole approach to movement has changed.
“He’s got that willingness to just go forward and fly. It’s honestly like riding a different horse,” she said.
When it comes to diet, Alex and Paisley have also become aware that their pasture isn’t always the right thing for their horses - with weather conditions, sandy acidic soil and an abundance of weeds, it’s not necessarily delivering the high quality fibre needed.
“I respect now there are times of year when my pasture just isn’t ticking the right boxes,” said Alex.
“So taking them off the pasture, putting them in smaller paddocks and feeding high quality hay, and making sure they’re eating 10 - 12 kilos of hay per day.”
Linda agrees, sometimes the feed we’re giving horses isn’t right, but if we’re just guessing at what’s best, then things can go wrong.
For Alex, the journey to being more informed about horse gut health has been a game changer.
“Once you start thinking about this, listening and learning, things just start clicking. It’s that intention to get things right.”
Alex’s belief in the importance of feeding right has even led her to host events on horse gut health at her own property.
“The reality of it is that horses get sold on, horses get euthanized, people get injured, and it can just come down to the fact that they’re in pain from not being fed properly.”
Alex and Paisley’s top gut health tips for newbies:
- Are you feeding your horse's good bugs or their bad bugs? Think about low sugar, low starch, low fructans.
- Make sure you’re feeding your horse 2% of their body weight in quality fibre.
- And if you’ve got horses that have been compromised, use a supplement like Digestive EQ. It makes a huge difference getting them back on track.
“It’s like when you read stories about the relationship you can have with your horses. As far as I’m concerned if the gut’s compromised, you’re never going to get true connection or true relaxation…. If your horse is in pain, you’re never really going to get that,” said Paisley.
“If your horse is telling you, even subtly, that they don’t want to do things, really go back to that question of comfort and health.
“And from a training perspective, once they’re comfortable they seem to really want to, which is a great experience. It’s been really fun lately.”
Linda confirmed it’s the subtleties in changes that people are often most surprised by. A horse’s mood, it’s posture, it’s overall way of being.
“Every horse has the potential to have a life in terms of less pain. And we didn’t know they were in pain, that’s the thing. We just didn’t know.”
Thank you Alex and Paisley for sharing your story with us, we wish you all the best with Phoenix, Griffin and the rest of your herd.
Got a story you’d like to share? Contact us to find out more about our In the Saddle with Linda series.