About Dr Nerida McGilchrist

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Entries by Dr Nerida McGilchrist

Garlic for Horses: Should You Feed It?

Herbs have been used in some cultures as remedies for disease and illness for more than 5000 years and their effectiveness as part of an ‘integrated system of primary health care’ is well recognised. Given the benefits we see in humans, it is becoming more and more commonplace for herbs to be used for horses. However, in many cases for horses, herbs are used not as part of a holistic approach to health care, but rather as a nutritional supplement.


Bighead is a disease resulting from long term calcium deficiency in the diet. Bighead has severe effects on your horse, making movement painful and lameness a constant issue. Luckily though, it is a condition that is easily avoided by carefully balancing your horse’s diet.

Identifying Pastures: Part 1

Pasture is an ideal feed base for any horse’s diet. It is an economical feed ingredient that provides an excellent source of energy, protein, vitamins and some minerals. Added to this is the benefit of the physical and mental stimulation grazing provides. Horses are born to graze.

However, some pastures can cause serious problems for horses. In Part 1 of this series, we will look at pasture plants that can cause endophyte toxicity. The two most common pasture species that can lead to endophyte toxicity are ryegrass and tall fescue.

Feeding Horses That Tie Up

Tying up is a painful condition for a horse and a frustrating one for you as an owner. Symptoms can range from severe muscle pain and distress, apparent colic, excessive sweating, elevated heart and respiration rates, a stiff gait, muscle tremors and a reluctance to move to more mild and elusive symptoms that just involve the horse feeling stiff, lazy or slightly lame.

Whether your horse suffers with severe tying up or a mild form, it will limit your horse’s performance and sense of well being, so the more you do to reduce the frequency and severity of bouts of tying up, the better your horse’s performance and health will be.

Feeding Flaxseed

Flaxseed (also known as linseed) is a valued feed ingredient amongst horse people. How it should be used has long been the subject of considerable debate. Its safety for horses has always been under question and methods of preparation are many and varied. This FeedXL newsletter looks at what flaxseed can add to your horse’s diet, if it is safe to feed and how it can be prepared for feeding.

Feeding for Calm Behaviour

There is nothing quite as unnerving or unenjoyable as riding a horse that is completely full of itself and constantly reacting before thinking. On a more subtle level a horse that won’t concentrate or continually overreacts to aids is frustrating. While education plays a major role in determining a horse’s behaviour under saddle, feeding can also have an impact. What you feed, how much you feed and when you feed it can make a big difference. Here are some tips for feeding to assist your horse to maintain a calm and responsive attitude under saddle.

Seaweed for Horses: Miracle Supplement or Massive Con?

There has been much debate about the potential benefits to be gained from feeding seaweed to horses.
On one side, we have seaweed being reported as a multifunctional supplement that will act as an
anthelmintic, antacid, immuno-stimulator, anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, anti-bacterial, anti-ulcer, heavy
metal scavenger, fertility enhancer, nerve calmer, thyroid stimulator and skin and coat conditioner. From
the other side, seaweed is called nothing more than a con, containing potentially dangerous levels of
iodine and precious little of anything else. So who is right, and is there any middle ground to be sought in
this argument?

Feeding Pregnant Mares

Pregnant mares carry your hopes and dreams, be it for the next big champion or just a quiet riding companion. Regardless of what you are breeding, good care of the mare during her various stages of pregnancy has long term impacts on both her and her foal’s long term health and athletic capacity. Here are some tips for keeping mares healthy and breeding sound, strong and athletic foals.

Grains for Horses: Cooked or Uncooked?

While a lot of time is spent focussed on horses that can’t eat grain in their diet, cereal grains such as oats, barley, triticale, corn, rice, rye, sorghum and wheat form a valuable component of many horse’s rations. Selecting the most digestible grain based feed however can be confusing, with uncooked grains like whole, cracked and crushed grains being available as well as cooked grains like extruded, micronised, steam rolled or steam flaked and pelleted grains.

The question is, which form is best for your horse, the cooked or uncooked grains?

Feeding Your Horse After Exercise

When horses exercise they burn up stored energy supplies, damaging muscle tissue and losing water and electrolytes via sweat. After exercise it is important to replenish these energy, water and electrolyte stores and provide protein for muscle repair. Failure to do so can result in reduced performance, muscle wastage and slow recovery times. What you feed, how you feed it and when it is fed all play a role in determining how effectively you replace what your horse uses during moderate to high intensity exercise and how quickly they will recover.

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