The Right Feeding Program for YOUR Horse
Interview with Mary Swan
"What should I feed my horse?" is probably the most often-asked question among horse keepers. To answer that question, one horse feeder, Mary Swan, developed a software program for just that - figuring out your horse's nutritional needs, adapting the current feeding program, or devising a new one - all at home on your own computer. You can Do It Yourself.
NHM: Tell us about the Equus-Rx do-it-yourself feed program software. How
can it benefit the horse and horse owner?
Mary: The feed balancing program allows the horse owner to check her horse's diet to see if it meets all the daily nutrient requirements for his particular life stage and activity, and then modify it if it doesn’t. Here's what the horse owner would need to know before starting the program:
The horse's weight and condition.
A weight tape can be used to measure the horse's weight, and our user's manual has a conditioning chart in the back.
Amount of each feed currently being fed daily to the horse, by weight not volume (pounds, ounces, and grams versus quarts, gallons and pints).
The guaranteed analysis of each feed.
This will likely be listed in our feed database of over 300 types of feed; it should also be listed on the tag on the feed bag, or the feed dealer could supply this product information.
Guaranteed analysis of any specific hay, forage, or grain being fed.
The hay/feed analysis, whether from our database or a lab, is needed so it can be entered into the master database in the program for calculating. If the horse owner is preparing feed from scratch, or is feeding unprocessed feeds, he would need the guaranteed analysis tag from the bag to enter it into the feed master database. If it something an owner grows himself, he would have to have it analyzed and then enter that report's information into the feed master database. So the program will still be able to help - one can enter raw or commercial grains, hay, beet pulp, other forage, supplements and herbs, etc. The feed database has a lot of feeds in it - both commercial and raw - but it is impossible to put everybody’s feed in it because there are so many options. Supplements can be entered as well, as long as there is a guaranteed analysis of the product.
NHM: How reliable are the current National Research Council's (NRC) nutritional
requirements for horses?
Mary: The NRC was organized by the National Academy of Sciences in 1916 to associate the broad community of science and technology with the Academy’s purpose of furthering knowledge and advising the federal government. The National Academy is a private, nonprofit, society of distinguished scholars engaged in scientific research to further science and its use for general welfare. The NRC’s Nutrient Requirements of Horses report was reviewed by a group (other than the authors of the report) according to procedure approved by a Report Review Committee. The NRC's Nutrient Requirements of Horses report was supported by the Agricultural Research Service of the US Department of Agriculture and by the Center for Veterinary Medicine, Food and Drug Administration of the US Department of Health, and additional support was provided by the American Feed Industry Association. The NRC guidelines are used by feed manufacturers when producing their products. They are the industry standards.
NHM: When were they established, and were they established for horses?
Mary: The NRC nutrient requirements of horses were established in 1989. They were established just for horses, based on horses’ needs rather than cattle needs (the NRC has separate nutrient requirement reports for beef cattle and dairy cattle). The NRC nutrient requirements for horses has been updated this year but has not been published for release as of yet. They haven’t given a time when it would be available. When they are updated so will our software and line of Equine Life Stage Complete health and nutritional supplements.
NHM: What help do you provide?
Mary: We have three different internet sites: Equus-Rx.com, EquusResearchLab.com, and EquineLifeStage.com. On our Equus-Rx.com site we have two software programs available that give horse owners the ability to track their horses’ health and analyze and balance their horses’ diets. The two programs are Equus-Rx pro and Equine Nutrition Wizard.
The Equus-Rx Pro software helps people make good clear decisions and be proactive with their horses’ health and nutrition using four easy-to-use modules. The modules are:
Feed-Nutrition Analysis Module – analyzes and balances the horses’ diet.
Health History and Tasks Module – helps track all the horses’ medical histories and helps schedule all health-maintenance-related appointments: dentistry, farriery, deworming, vet calls, and vaccinations.
Conditioning Module – helps one get his horse fit and in shape without injuries. The recommendations for the first two phases, Preliminary and Developmental, are based on the British Horse Society's guidelines. The Preliminary phase is a six-week program with exercises already defaulted into the program. At the end of each day, the owner records the horse's temperature, pulse and respiration to determine how well the horse is handling the increasing exercise. It is designed to condition the horse gradually, increasing the lengths of time to tone up, strengthen and develop muscles, tendons and ligaments so the horse doesn’t get injured. The Development phase is a two-week program with exercises already defaulted into the program. Here too you can enter your horse's temperature, respirations and pulse at the end of each day. It is designed to work your horse harder so his heart and lungs become accustomed to exercise. The third phase, the Advanced phase, is for horse owners or trainers to create their own fitness program for the horse's particular discipline. They determine the exercise, duration, miles, and time frame, then record the horse's temperature, pulse and respirations at the end of each day.
Care and Maintenance Module – keeps a record of all your horses’ physical information such as breed, height, weight, markings, name, age, birthday, sire, dam, tattoo, etc., as well as contact information for your vet, dentist and farrier. It also has a feed scheduling feature so you can enter and schedule your feeding times for each horse along with the detailed diet information. No more feeding mistakes at the barn.
The Equine Nutrition Wizard software program just allows you to analyze and balance your horses’ diet.
On our Equus Research Lab site we offer four different lab services: hair mineral analysis, forage and grain analysis, ration analysis, and the horses’ grain can be tested for heavy metals. Based on the different analyses we can formulate a custom supplement for the horse.
On our Equine Life Stage site we offer custom supplements based on the horse's ten different life stages. These life stage supplements are balanced, complete supplements of the most sought after and beneficial nutrients. By feeding your horse our life stage complete supplement, you can eliminate the possible adverse nutrient interactions from feeding many different types of supplements from different manufacturers. By using our complete supplement you also eliminate the possibility of over supplementing in some nutrients just to get the beneficial doses of the most important nutrients your horse needs. Instead of buying several products, you just buy one and save money.
NHM: Do you prepare and provide custom supplements to perfect a feed program?
Mary: On our EquineLifeStage.com site, people can buy a prepared complete health and nutritional supplement that addresses the vitamin/mineral needs of the horse based on life stage and activity as well as using herbs, joint nutraceuticals, antioxidants and immune builders that address the immune system, digestive system, skeletal system, muscular system, circulatory system, nervous system, and skin, all in one. This means there’s no more mistakes made when supplementing your horse. By using our complete supplement you also eliminate the possibility of over supplementing in some nutrients just to get the beneficial doses of the most important nutrients your horse needs. We make supplementing your horse easy, less confusing, convenient and accurate for you.
NHM: What are the sources of nutrients sold by Equus-Rx?
Mary: Our manufacturers use a multitude of cutting edge, bioactive ingredients. Our ingredients come from multiple sources and are 100% free of any and all toxic and heavy metals. We use a proprietary process that protects the ingredients from harm until they reach the small intestine. While in the small intestine, pancreatic enzymes are released and break apart the complex so that the minerals can be absorbed for utilization in the body. This means the horse can absorb and utilize all of the minerals in the supplements. Our manufacturers are certified FDA 1900 approved facilities that manufacture our formulas using GMP (good manufacturing practices) procedures. All of our suppliers are members of the NASC (National Animal Supplement Council). The NASC has brought interested members of the industry together to ensure that high quality products are being delivered to the consumer.
NHM: Do you do hair analyses?
Mary: Through our EquusResearchLab.com site, people can have a hair mineral analysis done on their horses, have their forage and grain analyzed, have their horse's grain tested for heavy metals, and get a ration analysis of the horse's diet. All of the tests come with a written report of the results. It is mailed and emailed to the customer and a consultation explaining the results is provided. If they have a hair mineral analysis done or ration analysis based on the horse’s body chemistry and diet, and if needed, we recommend a custom supplement for the horse to rid him of any toxic metals and balance his body chemistry.
NHM: Do you have an estimated turnaround time for your services?
Mary: For the Equus-Rx Pro and Equine Nutrition Wizard software purchase, we send a hard copy via the US mail.
For the individual diet analysis (ration analysis that we do for the horse) it takes 48 hours to get the results to the customer.
For the forage and grain analysis, and having the horse's grain tested for heavy metals, this takes one week to get the results.
For the hair mineral analysis it can take up to four weeks. Emails are sent to the customer regularly letting them know the status of the test.
Turnaround time for your horse's custom supplement is 5 – 7 days before it ships. The reason for the extra time is these supplements are not off the shelf; each supplement is custom made for your horse's needs.
NHM: When did you first become acquainted with horses, and why did you start Equus-Rx?
Mary: I have been a horse owner and horse lover for more than thirty years.
I have raised them, worked with them, shown them, studied them and been a friend to each and every one. I received my first pony when I was 8 years old only because I nagged my parents everyday faithfully since I was five until I finally got one. At a young age I joined the British Horse Society’s Pony Club and also 4-H club. In high school I attended a vocational agricultural school for animal science and worked on horse and pony farm as a project for the program. I also took courses at the University of Connecticut concentrating on equine science. It wasn’t until my own horses started having health problems that I researched deeper into equine nutrition and biochemistry. When doing continued research on the internet, I came across a horse nutritionist that studied biochemistry and through his work he has helped over 10,000 horses for more than 20 years. I was lucky to have met him since he is such an amazing resource to learn from as well as help me in this business. He currently consults on my clients’ cases and helps formulate the custom supplements for my client’s horses. I started the software, analysis and supplement businesses because I wanted to inform people that there are alternative health solutions that can help their horses stay healthy and sound. Some of the cases I’ve seen have involved horses whose owners have just about given up hope. They have exhausted all avenues with no results and they are almost ready to give up. Sometimes the owners contact us too late, after the horse's health has deteriorated to the point they have lost their condition, appetite, and energy, and their bodies have actually started to shut down. I’ve even had cases where the horses live until the results come back from the lab but soon die while their supplements are en route to them. I wanted people to know that nutrition is important, and that it is more important during different times during the horse's life, and if it isn’t addressed as such, the horse's health suffers, SO DON’T WAIT. The right nutrition at each stage of the horse's life is important to prevent health risks and injuries. I’m always reading and researching the latest information out there concerning horses - nutrition, breeding, training, care, performance and vet journals so I can keep myself and my clients up to date. It is a never ending process.
NHM: Thank you for sharing with us, Mary.
Mary: Thank you.
For more information:
27 Tanglewood Dr.
Norwich, CT 06360