FAQsmerlot and Persil groom each other

What is the general difference between cheaper supplements and the Calm Healthy Horses products?

Cheap supplements are made up of cheap ingredients which is old technology.

Now the true value of high quality ingredients is better understood for vitamins and minerals. Supplements contribute to optimal health and desirable behaviour.

Cheap supplements have only bare minimum levels, or omit completely, ingredients such as MSM (organic sulphur), Inositol, biotin and chromium.

Cheap supplements don't contain organic forms of minerals which can be many times more bio-available and useful to the horse, than inorganic forms.
We have anecdotal evidence of this many times over; science is usually five to ten years behind anecdotal evidence. Minerals such as selenium are much safer and less likely to cause toxicity when present in their organic form. Iron when present in its inorganic form interferes with the absorption of several other minerals. The best supplements contain small quantities of organic iron.

Demineralisation of the horse, especially the skeleton, is not something you see from the outside. Often the first sign is the onset of degenerative diseases before the horse is 20.

Everyone wants a calm, healthy horse that will give you many hours of safe riding and live a long, useful life. By feeding the best vitamin and minerals, you will find less need for joint/hoof and coat supplement. A blend of top quality, well balanced vitamins and minerals feeds the whole horse and you may find less need for other treatments. You will spend less time worrying and more time riding!


Product FAQs

Aren’t liquid formulations absorbed better than powders?

Absolutely not, there is no difference in absorbability at all. The fact is that liquid formulations usually involve a compromise of ingredients because many of the best nutrients are not water-soluble so have to be left out.
They also mean you are paying for water which is heavy, to be freighted around.

Can horses be allergic to your
Vits & Mins?

All the ingredients except the apple flavouring are naturally occurring nutrients which are necessary for life. There could be a remote possibility that a horse might be allergic to the apple.

Why are the Premium NZ Horse Minerals better than others currently on the market?

My horse is already getting a vitamin and mineral supplement so why would I change?

This particular combination of vitamins and minerals, including many minerals in their organic forms, has been exceptionally successful.

The blend has wonderful 'synergy' which means the total effect is greater than the sum of the individual ingredients.

Success is measured by the consistent achievement of calm, healthy horses with beautiful coats and improved hooves in a relatively short time.

Ponies that haven’t shed for years have shed their coats. People are happy because they can get on with riding. When their horse is well they feel safer and more confident.

Why is AlleviateC better than dolomite?

Dolomite is mainly calcium in an inorganic form with a small amount of magnesium. To be of any use calcium needs cofactors: magnesium, phosphorous and boron.

A shortfall of any of these minerals can mean calcium may not be well enough absorbed. Just one of magensiums' major roles in the body is to stimulate calcitonin to deposit calcium in the bones. The trouble is that de-mineralisation goes unnoticed as it can't be seen from the outside.

Why use Alleviate?

What makes Alleviate a better product than using mag oxide, dolomite or other magnesium products like more-mag, brands of chelated magnesium etc?, which are often the more attractive option due to the cheaper price’.

Mag Oxide is an inorganic form of magnesium that has to be fed in relatively large doses to do any good and then it can act as laxatives. Dolomite is mainly calcium carbonate with only a small proportion of magnesium. Both are ideally meant to be spread on the ground and washed into the soil. For Mag oxide to be utilized by the horse, once ingested it has to split from the oxide part, then find an amino acid to attach to so it can enter the cells to do it’s work. All the organic forms of minerals are ‘chelated’ or already attached to an amino acid so they are ‘good to go’, that’s why they are much faster acting and better utilized overall.

Alleviate is chelated and is soluble. Rather than mix it with water and then bottle it, we pack it as the powder so you are not paying for water to be shipped around the country. There is absolutely no difference in rate of effectiveness between Alleviate (or AlleviateC) and so called ‘liquid magnesiums’. Because of the small dose rate, Alleviate is actually inexpensive with one 350gm pack lasting a 400kg hack around 5 months.

Including boron in the mixes also gives ‘more bang for buck’ as in the absence of adequate boron both calcium and magnesium are more likely to be lost in the urine. Feeding boron consistently over their lifetime will help delay onset of demineralization and degenerative diseases.

As magnesium isn’t stored in the body it makes no sense to subject the horse to ‘highs & lows’ by only feeding it once a week. Any not used up will quickly be excreted.

As evidenced at Equitana new research is pointing away from using too much magnesium on it’s own as a calmer. In fact too much can get in the way of the chemical ‘off-switch’ for nerve impulses. The value of special chelated calcium for cellular signaling is coming to be understood. This explains why most people find AlleviateC and XtraCal work so well, they are both excellent for that purpose because contain this chelated calcium.

Get yours from our website here or most Farm stores or horse feed supplies

General FAQs

Why did I seldom, if ever, hear of this problem when I started owning horses 40 years ago?

Good question.
Several factors spring to mind:.

1. Grazing was not so intensive back then, now there are more people but no more land, in fact there is less land available for grazing than 40 years ago because of urbanization and the takeover of land by vineyards and dairy farms. As Real Estate has increased in value our grazing areas have become smaller and smaller.

This means the vast majority of horse owners don’t have enough land to allow the grass to mature before it is grazed again. This is especially salient because of overstocking – it is just so easy to acquire more horses than you originally intended!

2. Due to this intensification, people tend to fertilise in order to make their small amount of land grow more grass. This alters the chemical composition of the soil and the grass. Usually not in a way that benefits the horse. In other words the mineral balances are thrown completely out of whack and stress is placed on the horse’s adrenal glands and kidneys, which have to deal with it.

3. Most people think of pasture management for horses the same way they would for other livestock, which they are trying to either fatten in the shortest time possible or produce as much milk as possible. Such animals are generally only kept a very short time – 2 – 7ish years before they are killed for meat or culled.
Horses require you to think differently with regard to pasture management in order to keep them calm, healthy and useful well into their 20’s!!! Generally exactly the opposite to how a livestock farmer would think which causes some lively discussions in some households!

4. Rye grasses and clovers are desired by farmers and virtually grow ‘by default’ these days in regions of the globe that enjoy a ‘;cool season’. We met some people a few years ago who used to make their living from growing cocksfoot seed. Unfortunately they went out of business when rye grass came into fashion.
*Interestingly, in Queensland, where clover hardly grows, there is a very low incidence of head flicking.

5. Equine junk food: People did not use commercially prepared hard feeds to the extent they do now. Some of these feeds are promoted to be ‘cool’ or ‘Low GI’, but when you actually take a look at the list of ingredients, you will find all sorts of things such as legumes, extruded rice or other grains, soy, kelp, maize, wheat by-products, molasses (yes even in low GI).
LINK TO: How to Feed for Cool Energy article

6. Constant harrowing of manure will also change the chemistry of both the soil and the forage because it is applying nitrogen – a little bit is OK but if you are doing it all the time, you will notice that your grass gets darker in colour and affects your horses more and more as time goes on.

Do Horses ‘Self-Medicate’?

Contrary to popular belief they don’t.
Think about it: If they knew what was good for them they would also know what is bad for them and we wouldn’t have any ‘sick’ horses!
The only element horses or any livestock will seek out is SALT.

Salt is so essential to life, like water, that all animals have an in-built desire to consume it, but when they are grazing high potassium forages even this cannot be relied upon as potassium will trick the body into thinking it has enough salt.

If I plant horse safe grasses, when they are green and growing, can the horse still graze safely on them?

Horse friendly grasses still need to be managed to minimise stress on the grass. Grasses like Cocksfoot, Crested Dog’s Tail and Brown Top are safer for horses because they are inherently lower in NSC's (sugar), potassium and nitrates than Rye-Grass, Clover and Lucerne.

Fertilising, keeping the grass at a young stage of growth by constant grazing and some climatic conditions will reduce their 'horse friendliness' and 'bring out the worst' in the grass.

Grass is best for horses when it is more mature and not heavily fertilised (no nitrogen, super, urea or potassium).

Should I plough my paddock before I reseed?

No. It's not advisable to plough your paddocks as this will disturb the natural micro organisms which are vital for good soil balance. After ploughing it can take years for any grass to grow properly again.

Does Diet Trump Movement?

This is a curly one which will spark some healthy debate but in my experience I believe yes overall, diet trumps movement. Obviously getting both right for our horses is our goal.

Compare lifestyles of horses living

1. In NZ where most horses are turned out on green grass all their lives and get far more movement on a daily basis yet most are finished their useful life before they are 20

2. In California on Boarding Ranches where they live in pens on hay with turnout for an hour only 2-3 times a week or Europe where horses are stabled more of the time than here in NZ, and seem to averagely have a longer, useful life well into their 20’s & 30’s

A high fibre diet is one of the most important ingredients for optimal health and longevity in horses. Conversely a lifetime of a chronically high potassium/low salt diet is extremely detrimental.
Sometimes there are occasions when a choice needs to be made for the short term. When an unsuitable diet has compromised the horses metabolism to the point he is ‘metabolic’ or ‘insulin resistant, it is absolutely necessary to confine him off the grass rather than let him suffer the agony of laminitis.
If you have a horse that is too fat but not yet ‘metabolic’ ( if you are not sure go to Insulin Resistance ) then upping the exercise is the best thing you can do but horses that are ‘metabolic’ can tip over into laminitis at the slightest change in the grass and it is safer and more prudent to get them off before it is too late!
If your only choice of grazing is fertilized rye-grass and clover, your horse is far better off confined in a yard on hay than turning into a dangerous, raving lunatic.
If your horse is sane and sensible because he is being fed correctly then you are going to be enjoying RIDING him!


General FAQs cont...

Won't feeding all that extra salt harden my horses arteries?

On Dr Swerczek's advice, we feed our 17 horses (all medium sized hacks) 40-60gms of salt/per day. That is 2-3 tablespoons.

If you are also feeding GrazeEzy then you can drop the amount of salt to about half this amount.
A natural question comes up: Is all this salt going to 'harden their arteries?!' Absolutely not, because it isn’t salt that hardens arteries but calcium!

This happens when calcium is fed without being accompanied by the co-factors needed to deposit calcium in the bones: principally magnesium, boron, phosphorous & Vitamin D

Besides horses are large animals and have a large requirement for salt especially when they are consuming pasture grass, or working hard, or when it is hot.

So long as they have access to plenty of clean water they will have only benefits.
The Importance of Feeding Extra Salt

What about Mineral Licks?

Horses will only consume these to the point they satisfy their craving for salt or their ‘sweet tooth’ if it also contains molasses. Therefore they are an extremely unreliable means of supplying sufficient amounts of other essential minerals like calcium, magnesium, phosphorous, zinc, copper, chromium, selenium and all the Vitamins.

Why is it only one horse in the paddock that seems to be affected and not all of them?

For the same reason that only one person in a household becomes diabetic or gets depressed. Different physiologies, different history of exposure. Usually the other horses are affected in some way. Sometimes it takes longer to show up in some horses.

If my horse is turned out without work should I still feed them according to the Calm Healthy Horses Plan?

Yes. Often we hear about horses that have come back from being turned out without supplementation and they are very 'fresh' or 'out of control'. This cause is due to mineral imbalances and possibly a mycotoxin overload which can take months to get back into balance again. Therefore, it's best not to allow this to happen by continuing the Calm Healthy Horses Plan regardless if they are not being ridden.

My horse does well on what I am currently feeding him. If I change will he keep weight on?

You will be pleasantly surprised how little horses need to retain good body weight once their nutritional requirements are correctly met.
The Calm Healthy Horses Plan offers an economical and healthy way of feeding your horses without affecting a healthy body weight.

What role does selenium play in the overall scheme of things?

Selenium is vital in conjunction with Vit E to prevent tying up in performance horses and contributes to muscle strength and stamina. Selenium is also one of the major antioxidants (along with Vits A, C and E). Other products containing Selenium should not be fed at the same time as Premium New-Zealand-Horse Minerals. Neither should fertiliser containing Selenised prills be applied to paddocks. The next time you have a vet check, have the blood levels tested for Selenium (basic test only), then again 12 months later. You can compare the levels and check to see they are still normal.

I don’t have much Rye Grass, why am I still having problems?

In the early days, we too thought that all we had to do was eliminated the all the rye grass and clover and replace with ‘horse-friendly’ grasses and all our problems would be over. However, it soon transpired that there is a lot more to it.

NB. You will never eliminate ALL the rye-grass as there are millions of seeds in the ground. However if it is growing as part of a mixture of grasses it won’t cause problems, it is more problematic when it is grown as a ‘mono-culture’ or with clover and that is all they have to eat.

Sowing more horse-friendly (usually natives or grasses NOT ‘improved’ or selected for high production) grass species is absolutely a step in the right direction but how you manage these grasses is crucial to keeping your horses calm and healthy on it.

Any grass that is over grazed or in growth mode (Short and green) is minerally unbalanced because the only concern of the grass is to recover so it can produce seed and reproduce.

Rye grass and other high production grasses have been selected for their rapid growth, high nutrient density including sugars and sometimes endophyte properties – this makes them more unsuitable for horses than other species.

You will often be told about rye-grass: Oh it is OK for horses, it is ‘low endophyte’ or ‘endophyte free’. If endophyte fungi were the only problem with rye-grass then that may be true but endophytes are just about the least of the problems with rye-grass.

Mineral imbalances tops the list, followed by NSC content, the fact it stores sugars as indigestible fructans, photodynamic pigments which contribute to photosensitization of the nose and white areas of skin and whether it harbours endophytes which potentially produce harmful myco-toxins ( if it is an endophyte strain.)

Hence other names for rye-grass are “Founder Fodder’ or ‘Disaster Pasture’!

A healthy horse can handle some rye grass as part of the pasture mix with the help of suitable nutrition as recommended on the website. It is not very often though, that clover does not cause problems of some description or other, especially if the horses are not well nourished.

If you have grasses that have gone to seed, now is a good time for identification -
Bad Grasses

How do I introduce grass back into the diet?

We have a mare who has been 12 weeks off the grass due to being affected. She is much better. When can you start introducing grazing again and how should we go about it?

When we say that horses need to come completely off grass, we mean as a temporary measure. Usually 1-3 months with some head-shaking horses and founder cases taking longer. It only sounds drastic until you wrap your head around it. It is, more often than not, the fastest way to get good results.
Only when the horse has come back to his normal self can he be slowly reintroduced to more ‘suitable grass’. Hopefully over the time the horse has been off the grass has given it time to grow long and more mature. Then you can start by giving them access for ten minutes am & pm and increase the time accordingly.

Some people forget that horses can eat a colossal amount of grass in a short time, especially if they have not had any for awhile! If the horses has had laminitis for instance you have to be really careful.

Whether the grass is ‘suitable’ or not depends on what species it is and the stage of growth, time of the year and the weather. It rarely works to put them back out on pasture with ANY clover for instance so while they are in lock-up is a good time to eliminate it.
Mature grass is ideal - (see a list of good grasses here - Grasses )

Be observant for the return of any signs of a relapse and if there is any doubt then take them off the grass for a bit longer.

Why are some horses affected while others are not?

‘Just wondering why some horses get chronically grass affected to the point of being dangerous and other horses on the same grass do not seem to be hardy affected at all? Is it related to breed? Age? Gender?

So let’s look at this sticky question….

Any horse of any type, breed, gender or any age can become Grass Affected.

I believe the reason some horses seem to be more affected than others is due to their nutritional history. Prolonged exposure to vegetative (green, growing grass) eventually results in loss of their own ability to self-regulate electrolytes via their adrenal glands and kidneys. This is why you can have 10 horses grazing the same grass and some are affected and some aren’t (yet).

An aspect of their nutritional history that has a big influence is the chronic lack of salt compared to potassium consumed. The thing is that green grass contains plenty of magnesium because magnesium is the central molecule of chlorophyll but the over-load of potassium interferes with both calcium and magnesium metabolism. This is why horses respond so well when you are mindful of the total potassium content of their diet and why AlleviateC works so well.

Having said this, if the pasture is ‘bad’ enough, as in rye/clover that has been fertilized with products like NPK, the quietest horses can become extremely‘Grass-Affected’ within a few hours.

Is it related to breed, sex or age?
In all the years since the penny dropped about the effects of grass we have not observed any correlation with breed or age but some conditions like Cushing’s are usually age related.
It boils down to the fact that horses evolved on UNFERTILE country, they were never meant to be confined behind fences eating re-growth grass. They would rarely eat legumes (clover, Lucerne, Soy etc), grains in any great quantity and they would have access to a far more varied high fibre diet.

More Questions about Grazing

How do I find out what grass is in my paddock?

You can take samples to your closest farming store or seed merchant. (They may or may not be able to help!).

Sometimes it is possible to find a knowledgable person who will come and have a look.

The best way is to tape off a corner or strip of your paddock with electric tape and let the grass grow long enough to seed so you can more easily identify the different grasses and weeds. Spring and early summer are the best times to identify grasses.
Dr. Deb Bennett from the Equine Studies Institute has a wonderful CD, Poison Plants in the Pasture: A Horse Owner's Guide which includes a dictionary of grasses which is available to purchase through www.equinestudies.org

My horses are on low (or zero) endophyte rye-grass.
Why is this still a problem?

The endophytes which produce harmful mycotoxins are only one of the undesirable characteristics of rye-grass.

Removing the endophytes does nothing to address the high sugar content, the fact that sugar is stored as indigestible fructans, the fact it is high in photodynamic pigments which cause mud-fever & sunburn, and most significantly how it can get so high in potassium and nitrates which I now believe cause most of the problems in our horses.
More info on this... Here

When is it OK to use Bute ?

Phenylbutazone, usually referred to as ‘Bute’ is a ‘Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug’ which is appropriate to relieve mild pain. The extreme pain of acute laminitis or serious wounds may require much stronger and more effective pain relief from your veterinarian.

People have a somewhat unwarranted aversion to using ‘Bute’ but there are occasions when it is the humane thing to do on a SHORT term basis. It can provide much needed pain relief so long as you follow the vet’s instructions. (Long term over-use of ‘Bute’ can lead to serious problems such as ulcers, blood abnormalities and kidney problems).

Of course it is inappropriate, unethical and unfair on any horse to use ‘Bute’ to mask mild pain long term in order to be able to work or sell the horse or for the purpose of being able to compete.

Most veterinarians, and rightfully so, will not give you ‘Bute’ without a visit first. This is to ensure that the horse’s condition isn’t a lot worse than what you may have thought and that ‘Bute’ would be suitable pain relief.
It’s important to remember that ‘Bute’ does not ‘cure’ the problem. It reduces inflammation and therefore pain ensuring the horse is more comfortable when suffering from various ailments.

It usually results in the horse ‘perking up’ as pain relief kicks in. The horse becoming more depressed, or off its feed would be cause for concern.
‘Bute’ is not appropriate for any form of ‘colic’ which is an emergency when the vet should be called urgently anyway