Sorry guys but I promised a client I would post tonight about farts (and how to reduce them - in horses that is.)
One of the coincidental (or not) things I have noticed is that a horse with LGL or worse is usually a bit gassy (or may have been gassy in the immediate past). A horse with a happy tummy tends to have less gas - so fewer farts and just maybe, less incidence of LGL.
This is not a precise or even any kind of science. Just one of the things to watch out for when managing your horse for optimum health. Certainly since Grace has been on her mega low sugar and very high fibre diet she doesn't fart at all. Whereas client horses with high starch diets have a habit of dropping wet ones at the most inopportune moments, certainly I regularly sport a unique and unsaleable brand of hair gel. Maybe it is their way of getting their own back for me messing with their toes.
Anyway, enough of the locker room humour and onto the techy stuff.
The equine Cecum is pretty big; 28-36 litres (7.4 - 9.5 US gallons) (6.2 - 7.9 UK gallons) and it is home to billions of microbes.
These microbes are reliant on their horse for protection as well as for nutrition. The horse’s diet provides the microbes in the cecum with an energy resource unusable by the horse. In turn, the end products of the microbes’ metabolism provide the horse with an energy resource.
Horses rely on the microbes in the cecum, to aid in digestion and to make nutrients available that would otherwise be unavailable through enzymatic digestion alone.
It has been observed that disruptions to the delicate balance of cecal microflora can have systemic effects on horses, including changes in fecal and blood pH levels, diarrhea, weight loss and lameness due to laminitis.
One common source of microbial imbalance occurs when a horse ingests a large amount of cereal grains or grass that is too rich in carbohydrates or starch. Such a carbohydrate overload is common in pasture-fed horses during the spring and summer when grass grows very rapidly. It is also common when horses are fed large amounts of cereal grains.
When the cecum is overloaded with sugars/starches certain bacteria such as Lactobacillus and Streptococcus bovis over grow, resulting in an increase in lactic acid production and an overall change in bacterial populations as pH levels decrease. (Rowe)
The exact mechanism of laminitis is still not fully understood. Fortunately for us, we don't really need to know, we just need to keep the microbes happy so the that unhappy chain of events that lead to founder never get started. (Also read this blog entry.)
So - keep the farts to the minimum, feed your horse the diet he was designed for. Low sugar/starch and high in fibre please :-)
If your horse is lacking in energy - before you whack extra carbs into his diet, consider reducing them instead. Sugar overload is exhausting. The bacteria in the cecum are disturbed, digestion goes haywire and the horse actually gets deprived of nutrients rather than getting extra. You may find your horse sleeping more, or standing around with head hanging; maybe with a slightly hungover expression. If you get any of these, cut the sugar as a first option, give it a few days and then reevaluate.
If your horse is losing weight then add safe energy - always fibre first. If they can't chew another blade then add a low sugar/starch food source such as linseed (flax seed in the US).
Fibre digestion keeps a horse warm too, so you won't need as many (or maybe any) rugs.