THE WAY OF HORSES
Copyright © thewayofhorses
Eleanor Richards Blazer
Apples and Horses
By Eleanor Richards
Copyright @ 2005
Is your horse the apple of your eye? Or does he just have his eye on your apple?
Most horses love apples. An apple cut into pieces makes a wonderful treat. Apples and applesauce are used to hide oral medications. But is an apple really as healthy as they say. And can an apple a day keep the vet away?
You'll be glad to know apples are a very healthy treat...for both you and your horse.
Apples are high in potassium. A medium sized apple may contain approximately 160 milligrams (mg) of potassium.
Potassium is important for proper muscle contraction and nerve function. Potassium is also an electrolyte, and electrolytes are necessary for cellular metabolism.
Horses with active HYPP (hyperkalemic periodic paralysis) leak potassium from the muscles into the blood stream constantly. It is very important potassium intake is controlled when feeding these horses.
Research had determined potassium in a HYPP positive horse's diet be kept at a consistent level of about 1% or less of the total diet. So, feeding an apple to a horse with active HYPP may not be safe and is not recommended.
The calcium to phosphorus ratio in apples is safe. An average sized apple provides about 10 mg of each of the minerals; resulting in a 1 part calcium to 1 part phosphorus ratio. If the phosphorus level is greater than the calcium level the body will not utilize calcium correctly, resulting in bone weakness.
Calcium is important for bone growth and maintenance, blood coagulation, muscle and heart function, milk production and activation of enzymes and hormones.
Phosphorus is important to bone structure and energy metabolism. It also neutralizes the acid in the body.
As most horse owners know, fiber is very important to the equine diet. An average sized apple, with the skin, contains about 3-5 grams of fiber, and that's good.
Apples also are high in the vitamins A and C. These vitamins are antioxidants. Antioxidants fight the free-radicals in the body. Free- radicals are damaged molecules which may cause inflammation, infection and fatigue.
As in all treats, moderation is the key. Over-indulgence can create problems.
The equine digestive system must be allowed to adjust to new feeds. If your neighbor gathers up the apples under his tree and throws them over the fence to your horse digestive upsets may occur resulting in colic or laminitis. If a storm moves through and knocks a large amount of apples off a tree problems may result.
Apples may also cause your horse to choke. They are the perfect size to become lodged in the equine esophagus. If this occurs a veterinarian will be needed and possible surgery done to remove the apple. In this case, an apple a day will not keep the vet away. When feeding apples as a treat always cut them in slices.