FROM OUR CORPORATE PARTNERS HELP LOWER YOUR HORSE’S RISK OF COLIC DURING SHOW SEASON “A healthy digestive system is critical for horses to perform at their best,” said NRHA Professional Tom McCutcheon, an NRHA Million Dollar Rider. ccording to the American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP), an estimated 900,000 horses will colic this year in the U.S. alone, and more horses die from colic each year than any other condition. Researchers have identified a number of situations that are proven to increase a horse’s risk of colic, with the events that occur in and around horse shows frequently among these risks. PROVEN RISK FACTORS FOR COLIC INCLUDE: • Changes in hay • Poor quality hay • Changes in grain • Change in activity or exercise level • Lack of turnout Two of the risk factors that most obviously correlate to show season stresses are lack of turnout and changes in activity or exercise level. Since research shows that an increased number of hours spent in a stall are associated with in-creased risk of colic, aim to provide horses with A “All of my horses receive SmartDigest Ultra as part of their daily supplement program,” said NRHA Professional Tom McCutcheon. activity outside of their stalls each day—for ex-ample, several sessions of hand walking during show days. And because a recent change in ac-tivity level has also been linked to increased colic risk, try to keep turnout and exercise routines consistent from day-to-day. When schedule ad-justments are necessary—as they so often are before or during a competition—make those adjustments as gradually as possible. In addition to an appropriately managed turnout and training schedule, a correct feeding program is essential to every horse’s digestive health. Sudden changes in type or amount of grain are proven to increase a horse’s risk of colic by five times, and sudden changes in hay—in-cluding cut and type of hay—have been shown to increase colic risk an astonishing 10 times! Add to this that poor quality, less digestible hay has also been linked to an increased risk of colic, and it becomes obvious how hazardous making quick diet changes can be. Horse owners, train-ers, and barn managers should take care to bring enough hay and grain from home in order to avoid making sudden changes to different feeds available at competitions. When feed changes are necessary, they should be made gradually over the course of seven to 10 days.