Letters: 10/02

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Richdel Responds
I want to thank you for the informative articles you have for horse owners. In the August 2002 article about psyllium, I believe your comparison between powder and pellet in your “gel test” to be like comparing apples and oranges. Your procedure consisted of mixing 1 oz. of psyllium “in warm water and stirring gently for five minutes.” In this “test,” I would expect the powder to form a gel much faster than a pellet.

In the digestive system of the horse, the pellet being fed and the product reaching the lower gastrointestinal tract are vastly different. The pellet is not only ground by chewing, it goes through anything but a “gentle” mixing action as it passes through the esophagus, stomach, small intestine, cecum, and proximal end of the colon. Also the rate of passage may be more than four hours. Through this grinding and mixing process, I believe the ingested pellet will arrive much more like the powder to the area where most of the sand problems occur, i.e. the distal area of the large colon.

I was somewhat confused on pricing and the use of human products. You did not state a price for a human product from Wal-Mart, but suggested a price below $7 for 20 oz. to possibly be a product with a lot of sugar. At $7 per 20 oz. this equates to 35?? per oz. or $28 for a 5-lb. pail.

Again, I want to thank you for the educational articles you have for people in the horse industry.

-Richard G. Godbee, Ph.D., PAS
Vice President ??? Operations
Richdel, Inc.
Nevada

We agree that soaking the psyllium products in a glass of water has no direct comparison to what happens when it is chewed, subjected to digestive fluids and mixed in the gut. However, what we found was a good correlation between that simple in vitro test and how well the product performed under our specific test conditions in vivo with horses with digestive upset.

As for costs, we weren’t suggesting that human products are more cost-effective in bulk, only that an owner who wants to try psyllium before investing in a large tub can do so by purchasing a smaller amount of a human product.

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Ex-Stress Produces Change
I am writing to give you a heartfelt thank you for your timely article “Head Off Trouble With Ex-Stress” (July 2002). It could not have come at a better moment.

I own Rosie, a wonderful four-year-old Thoroughbred-Holsteiner mare. She has always been a delightful partner, willing, cooperative and anxious to please. She learned to drive and was started under saddle about eight months ago.

Her training with a competent professional was progressing well until early spring this year. She then became distracted and almost hyperactive to normal things, like machinery, other riders, or strange noises. My normally non-spooky horse would panic, wheel around and over-react to things that never bothered her before. I was reluctant to use calmatives, even natural ones like valerian, because I really was unsure of the cause/origins of her odd behavior.

However, I ordered Ex-Stress from Peak Performance because the description of her misbehaviors matched the description in your article so well. After one week, the change in Rosie was remarkable. She still looks at the offending object or person but the spins and leaps are gone. She is alert and aware but not over-reactive or dangerous.

-Lisa Soffer
New Jersey

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Pond Water Pollution
I was just reading the August issue of Horse Journal and felt my bloodpressure rise as I read “Is Pond Water Safe For Your Horse'”?? How about “Is Your Horse a Source of Water Pollution'”?? The answer is a big yes!

The number one source of water pollution today is what is known as Nonpoint Source Pollution.?? This is basically storm water pollution that includes soil, manure, spilled petroleum products, failing septic systems, fertilizers and pesticides.?? Allowing horses access to streams, brooks and ponds does a number of things.?? It destabilizes the banks by destroying vegetation (your picture accompanying the article shows this well), which results in soil erosion, loss of riparian habitat, and shade for small streams, which is important to many fisheries.?? Horses defecate in or around these areas and when it rains the bacteria and nutrients from the manure are washed into the stream.

The USDA, through its various incentive programs, has been working with livestock farmers to fence livestock out of water bodies and offering alternative watering systems such as pasture pumps.?? Unfortunately, the equine industry is often over looked by the USDA as most horse owners don’t derive a substantial amount of their income from horses and thus don’t qualify for these programs.?? However, the science in which this effort is based still applies to horses.??

Horses do not belong in the water!?? They need to be fenced out of streams and ponds with some sort of vegetated buffer between the water and grazing area.?? Readers can contact their local USDA office or Cooperative Extension for technical information.

Horse owners need to start taking responsibility for their impact on the environment like the other sections of society, if we don’t we will find ourselves being regulated. Please pass the word to your readers to be environmentally friendly and fence livestock out of natural resources and dispose of manure in an environmentally friendly manner.

-Kathy Hoppe
Horse Owner and Water Quality Specialist
Maine Dept. of Environmental Protection

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Another Flax Suggestion
I use a small coffee grinder to make a week’s supply of ground flax. I put a day’s supply in individual self-sealing plastic bags and keep it refrigerated. I know this is viable by looking at and feeling my horse’s wonderful coat. I purchase my flax seed in 25-pound bags for about $12 at a local feed store. The flax is sold as birdseed, but this brand is triple-cleaned premium flax seed. I eat the stuff myself.

-Walter Gloskowski
California