When considering equine digestive health, practitioners tend to think first about the portion of the gut they can visualize with a 3-meter endoscope—the stomach. The prevalence of gastric ulcer treatments also keeps the stomach at the forefront when discussing GI health with colleagues and clients. But it’s important to remember what is arguably the most important part of the horse’s GI tract: the hindgut.
The Hindgut’s Significance in Digestion and Overall Health
The hindgut is significant for several practical reasons. First, it is physically large. Second, the whole of equine digestion depends on a healthy hindgut. The horse’s ability to digest food and absorb nutrients requires the hindgut to function properly. And the horse’s ability to perform and its general well-being are, in turn, dependent on the availability of nutrients and energy from efficient digestion.
The hindgut is also the source of many health conditions that require intervention. These can negatively affect the normal passage of food, healthy digestion and absorption, good microbial balance, proper pH, strength of the intestinal barrier, health of the mucosal lining, immune function, and more. Further, treatments to address common stomach conditions and other medications for lameness, illness, and more, can wreak havoc on the hindgut.
It is often the case that you don’t know an equine patient’s true underlying condition, at least not entirely. Even if you can diagnose stomach ulcers via gastroscopy, it’s possible the horse also has a problem brewing in the hindgut.
Rule In Hindgut Conditions
Definitively diagnosing hindgut pathologies remains difficult. However, one tool exists to objectively identify the presence of lesions in the hindgut. The SUCCEED Equine Fecal Blood Test uses antibodies to detect occult blood loss in a fresh fecal sample. A positive result for albumin only indicates a hindgut-specific condition, while positives for both albumin and hemoglobin indicate a definite hindgut issue with potential for a concurrent stomach condition. This simple, affordable, and noninvasive test gives you an objective tool to rule in hindgut conditions in your clients’ horses.
Ongoing Intervention to Support Hindgut Health
Taking the horse out of performance and allowing it to rehabilitate in a low-stress, pastoral setting is the ideal treatment for hindgut health in horses. But that’s largely impractical for most people. Given this, an alternative approach might be necessary. This might involve dietary methods of supplementing the nutrients utilized by the GI tract for healthy anatomy and function, so that the horse is better able to manage the effects of husbandry, stress, and performance.
SUCCEED Veterinary Formula offers a nutritional approach to managing the ongoing health of the equine digestive system. This product gives vets and their clients a viable alternative to pharmaceutical-based therapies. SUCCEED provides a daily program designed to manage the health of the entire equine GI tract. It provides a variety of nutrients used by the body to maintain the integrity of the gut wall, support efficient nutrient absorption, and maintain healthy microbial balance and immune function, without interfering with natural digestive processes.