This is one of the most viewed posts from my blog,

I'm adding it because so many people are asking questions about "how to feed oil to a horse". This post is by Marijke van de Water, one of the most amazing equine nutritionists I have known. Her findings are both 'results driven' and controversial. This one in particular, goes against many of the articles you read on the web, especially the articles that the "big feed companies" put out. Remember everyone, those companies are responding to trends and marketplace, not the interest of the horse (regardless of what their pretty sites may say). If you want it, they will make it.

Now Marijke's post:

Question: I was told by an animal nutritionist that I should give my mare oil to help her coat and thin condition. I have also heard that oil is not good for horses? Why would that be? He did not recommend one over the other.

Answer from Marijke van de Water: Your animal nutritionist is recommending canola oil, corn oil, or some other vegetable oil to fatten up your horse. This recommendation is based on the fact that fats provide energy in a very concentrated form thus making it very difficult to burn off quickly. Fats are very slow to metabolize. One calorie of fat is equivalent to 3 pounds of oats or 6 pounds of hay. Very dense indeed. But is a daily feeding of 1/2 to 1 cup of oil from questionable sources a healthy cure-all to weight gain?

Vegetable oils in this form are poor-quality oils, all of which are polyunsaturated. This means that these oils are unstable with very poor resistance to heat and/or light. They easily release free electrons which are the culprits in free radical damage. The resulting cell damage is implicated in cancer, heart disease, and other chronic diseases related to aging and unless you buy organic many corn and canola crops are genetically modified as well.

It is significant that horses have no gallbladder – they don’t need one! The natural equine finds no puddles of concentrated fat in his foraging and if he/she did the reaction would be a “what in the heck was that?” lip curl. Can you imagine drinking a cup of oil without your gallbladder? I drank 1/2 cup of olive oil (twice), a relatively healthy oil, over 2 or 3 hours with my gallbladder intact and I can tell you my liver never worked so hard. The gallbladder acts as a timer that shoots bile (bile digests fat) within 20 minutes of ingesting fat. Without it the liver releases bile at random and thus becomes easily congested and overworked with excess dietary fats.

Fats slow down the normal rate that the stomach empties its food into the intestine so adding oil to grain means that the digestion of grains is abnormally slowed down, thus affecting stomach overload, gut motility, adequate enzyme activity, and energy. Horses have a small stomach designed to empty quickly. That is the reason they eat almost continuously. Replacing grain/hay calories with fat calories means a significant loss in protein, fibre, and minerals.

The key to healthy weight gain is finding the appropriate grain/hay combination for your particular horse based on breed, lifestyle, and biochemistry; correcting any nutritional deficiencies; and ensuring optimum digestive function with good enzyme activity and the regular use of “Riva’s Remedies Probiotics”.

To detoxify a congested liver from excess oil take a daily supplementation of the “Riva’s Remedies Happy Horse”, as well as a course of “Riva’s Remedies Pro-Dygest” to remove fat/oil residue from the intestines.

Marijke van de Water, B. Sc., DHMS
Homeopathic Practitioner
Equine Health Consultant
Ph. # 1-800-405-6643


Views: 478


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Comment by Geoffrey Pannell on October 27, 2009 at 7:14am
Interesting about the flax!! do tell. On my way to get another pale ale, I'm dryer than an Afgans sandle.
Comment by Ann Hatfield on October 26, 2009 at 10:24pm
I, too have fed oil to horses, and some ground organic flax and rice bran- which is too darn expensive!- all to keep a hard-keeper endurance/trail horse in good shape. I also feed flax to all the other guys, breeding stock and pleasure horses/mules. I don't overdo it. The Arab, now an old fellow, always did well on his rations. The seeds which horses ate 'in the wild' contained some oil, so horses must be able, genetically, to cope with some. And, Geoffery, by chance, I am drinking a Propeller pale ale while I key this.

Maple Leaf Sport Mules and Trail Mules
Comment by Geoffrey Pannell on October 26, 2009 at 9:31pm
I don't think the math is correct? A calorie is such a small unit when working out feeds we use megajoules/ kg. So, 1 calorie=4.184 joules, 1 kilocalorie= 4184 joules or 0.004 megajoules, 1 megacalorie= 4.184 megajoules . Oil has 38mj/kg of digestable energy, Oats have 12mj/kg of DE . That's 2/3rds more energy in oil than oats and oats are the lowest source of DE of all the grains. ------ Getting away from the math (my head is hurting) I agree that it is a poor idea to feed oil solely to fatten a horse, but the article would seem to suggest that it is not healthy for the horse at all. I know from the experience of preparing 3DE horses, that to get the energy requirements needed for top level performance we must feed oil . Simply because the horse will not be able to consume the volume of feed needed to provide the calories without it. When adding oil , we only add 50g at a time as the horses fitness needs it. Once we get to a certain weight of feed we must be able to ad energy without adding to the volume of feed. Oil absorbs,transports and stores vitamins A,D,Eand K , All very important for the healthy horse. In all my years of competition I have never heard of any "consequences" of feeding oil correctly. Of course any feed, fed incorrectly can have consequences for the horses health, but to come out and say oil is bad is missing the point a bit. Yes there are much better feeds for fattening up or putting a shine on you horse coat and to feed oil for that reason, I agree will have "consequences" . So, what I'm trying to say , is tell the whole story not half the story, as it is too easy for the less experienced to get caught up in the science . All things in moderation, I say ( as he swigs back yet another pale ale). (hic) Cheers Geoffrey
Comment by April Reeves on October 26, 2009 at 6:13pm
Hi Geoffrey - The comparison is in the energy ratio. One calorie of fat (from any source) has the same energy output to your horse as 3 pounds of oats or 6 pounds of hay. It's not so much comparing apples to pears but taking a good hard look at how dense processed fats are. Dense as in how much energy is used by the horse. What Marijke is saying, is that because processed oil is so dense, it moves through the horse at a slower rate than hay and oats, therefore releasing a slower energy burn, allowing the horse to maintain the energy over longer periods of time, or adding weight gain. What she is also trying to say is that horse anatomies/organs are not developed to break down and utilize oils properly without consequences.

I have a great video on Horseman's on Marijke speaking in-depth about oils and horses. You may be able to get a clearer picture of what she is trying to say from this video:

Thanks for the comment Geoffrey! April
Comment by Geoffrey Pannell on October 26, 2009 at 4:44pm
I'm a little sceptical of the figures here April !!On an energy equivalant basis, 1 cup(250ml or 230gm) of vegatable oil contains the same amount of digestable energy as 6 cups (1.5lt or 750gm). So I don't know how that equates to calorie's compared to pounds of grain? seems to be comparing apples with pears!

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