الإثنين 27 مايو 2024

How Does Stress Influence Our Horse’s Digestive Health?

موقع أيام نيوز

Our Horses Lead Stressful Lives… 

Their genetics dictate that they live free, roam large areas, graze 20 hours a day, and have an established position in the “pecking order” of their herd. In captivity, our horses live in a confinement management system, are fed intermittent meals, and are often separated from other horses. Although there have been many advancements in horse care, it has been a constant struggle to address and manage the stress today’s horses suffer. Feed schedules, show schedules, training and exercise, separation from friends, and everyday life in stalls and confinement all contribute to stress.  

Can Stress Influence Digestive Health?

Several studies have been conducted on the effect of stress on the horse. However, very few have focused on the influence of stress on digestive health. They often focus on heart rate, cortisol levels, or reproduction, all of which, although important, fail to address one of the main systems most influenced by stress: digestion. Many times, we recognize this stress as acute or chronic diarrhea, weight loss and poor condition, or behaviour changes. Horses with these conditions are living in a state of constant digestive disturbance and consequently predisposed to suffer from acute or recurrent colic episodes. Even a small amount of additional stress such as a change in temperature or a low water trough can tip these individuals into a state of digestive distress.   

You may be asking, if these issues are so prevalent, why haven’t more studies been performed to better understand this relationship?