Guide To Gut Support For Horses

Guide To Gut Support For Horses

Understanding Gut Health

When it comes to equine gut health there’s one factor to keep in mind: the gut microbiome. This is the ecosystem of microbes (good and bad) in the gut. Lots of common conditions like colic, ulcers, colitis and diarrhoea stem from an imbalance in this vital community in your horse’s gut. 

Importance of a Healthy Gut in Horses

A horse’s diet is rich in fibre so signs of a healthy gut can be boiled down to how easily the microbiome breaks down the roughage into nutrients they can absorb. Good horse gut health means these microbes are in balance, which lead to:

  • Better absorption of minerals and nutrients into the bloodstream, allowing them to be used where they’re needed.
  • A stronger immune system and reduction in inflammation, since the gut contributes to around 70% of a horse’s immunity.
  • An improvement in behaviour because of the communication between the central and nervous system which is heavily influenced by the gut microbiome. 

Signs your Horse Might Need Gut Support

Passing well-formed manure and a shiny, healthy coat are signs of a healthy gut. Although the same can’t always be said for us humans, gurgling intestinal sounds are completely normal and a sign of a healthy gut. So how can we tell when something isn’t quite right? Signs that a horse’s gut needs a helping hand include


  • Poor coat health
  • Sensitivity when tacking up and irritability
  • A lack of energy
  • Loose manure

Any dramatic changes in a horse’s weight, droppings (or lack thereof), intestinal sounds or behaviour should be addressed by a veterinary visit to ensure they’re not symptoms of an underlying problem. 

Factors That Affect Horse’s Gut Health

Horses are built for grazing, and their digestive systems are adapted to eating little and often (almost constantly). On an empty stomach an overproduction of acids occurs, causing discomfort and stress alongside a ripple effect on horse gut health. Aside from how often a horse eats, there are other key factors that can affect equine gut health, and so it’s important to consider the following: 

  • Diet- a sudden increase in grains/starches or processed food can upset the balance of bacteria in the horse’s gut (it’s adapted to primarily digest grass!)
  • Stress- stress causes a kind of domino effect starting in the microbiome. It alters the ‘happy’ balance and reduces the digestive system’s ability to process nutrients. Stress can be caused by a change in their environment, for example less turnout or paddock time or increased workload
  • Weight - excess, visceral fat produces hormones that negatively impacts the microbiome
  • Exercise - exercise stimulates blood flow and increases contractions of the smooth muscles in the gut whilst also providing stress relief and overall health and happiness. If a horse isn’t getting enough, their stress levels may be impacted, and the decrease in blood flow will affect the gut’s movements

Ways to Support Gut Health for Horses

There are lots of strategies to incorporate into a horse’s daily routine to give the gut its best chance at working efficiently. Ways to improve gut health include:

  • Gradually increased turnout will benefit the horse’s stress levels (especially if there’s a chance to socialise) and encourage exercise.
  • Ensure they have access to clean, fresh water at all times to help the digestive system run more smoothly. 
  • Ensure your horse has access to roughage where possible, mimicking their natural environment as much as possible.
  • Make regular veterinary visits to rule out any other underlying causes for changes in your horse’s health.
  • Using prebiotics as a natural gut support for horses, especially those prone to conditions like laminitis, ulcers and Equine Metabolic Syndrome (EMS) to make sure the microbiome has a good fuel source to avoid flare ups.  

Preventative Measures for Maintaining Optimal Gut Health

Horses are sensitive souls and having a routine reduces stress levels, so finding what works best for your horse is key. Using prebiotics alongside a diet with minimal starchy/sugary feed makes good horse gut health achievable. Since prebiotics don’t need to stay in a fridge it’s easy to implement long-term. They will help to feed the good gut bacteria, and help to prevent any gut health issues arising. Prebiotics and probiotics are especially supportive if your horse is on antibiotics, which reduces the population of microbes in the gut. 


When to Seek Veterinary Advice?

If you notice any sudden changes in your horse, for example weight loss or diarrhoea, it’s important to seek veterinary advice since these could be signs of a problem that needs to be addressed medically. 


Empower Your Horse’s Gut Health Journey

A horse’s overall health and vitality relies on a healthy gut, which is why it’s vital to include in all aspects of their care. Use a prebiotic like B-Complete or The Gut-Brain Reset to naturally support your horse’s central and nervous systems simultaneously. Head on over to our other blog which delves even deeper into all things gut microbiome. Gut health in horses is all about balance, and each element is key to supporting the others.

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