Can we talk food intolerance and behaviour issues?

ycbm

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I already knew my Appyx wasn't able to eat alfalfa. He turns into a different horse with a wild light in his eyes on even 100g a day. I had suspicions about linseed too, but stopped it before we got too far into the mad light stage. And the same with cereals. At the start of this winter I had some wrongly made haylage, too wet and acidic (supplier was brilliant and took it away) and that did the same thing. For the last month I've been moving him onto a plain horse cube because of the length of time he takes to eat grass pellets. They contain oil extracted linseed, wheat feed and oatfeed. Things were going extremely well with his weight going up on less food. But a couple of nights ago he came in at night with the wild eyes (it had been building up, it wasn't totally unexpected) and my lovely submissive quiet boy ran right through me to get to look out over the door. Two days off the cubes and he's right back to normal.

Three years ago I had a TB who was beginning to behave differently when I put him on a fattening feed full of soya. I stopped the soya and on less food, he gained weight and was much calmer to ride. Numerous people said "he's just a thoroughbred" about his weight and his schooling. But he wasn't, he was soya intolerant.

I thought it would be interesting to share food intolerance stories in one place. I know quite a few people have them, and it was Pearlsasinger who first alerted me to the potential for food intolerance to affect behaviour really badly. I hope that some of the many people struggling with their horse's behaviour might find the thread and consider whether it could be related to what they are feeding, even if it's a perfectly normal feed for many horses.
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Fransurrey

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I couldn't feed my mare alfalfa, either. Same as you. She went wild. My cob seems to be intolerant to whole (micronised) linseed - becomes stupidly spooky, but I understand there's something in the whole seed that affects the adrenalin pathway and using oil is ok - haven't tried that.
 
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My Lusitano couldnt have alfalfa. The livery yard put him on it without telling me. This was a horse that loved being groomed and despite sometimes being sharp under saddle, would rather put himself at harm than risk bumping into you and even when being a part, had a sense of self preservation. He was just 5 at the time, I thought the sensitivity to grooming was odd-took him off for a lunge (he lunged beautifully generally) and he had what I can only describe as a temper tantrum and threw himself on the floor twice.
I figured it was just pent up 5yo energy so took him for a hack (I was younger then lol) -well, if I wasn’t riding him forward in a spanking trot, we were trying to go backwards at a spanking trot through hedges and ditches. I did a 90 min hack in about 30. Came back and asked what had changed to be told they put him on alfalfa nuts 2 days before. Took him off them, he was back to normal in 48 hours-still sharp but with his sense of self preservation back. People have scoffed at me but I don’t care, I knew that horse’s character and it changed for that short time.
 

littleshetland

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I gave my Friesian 'Happy Hoof' as suggested by my vet. He went bonkers on it. This was a few years ago now, and I can't remember what the exact ingredients are, but never again! Alfalfa upsets mine as well.
 

HelenBack

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Mine doesn't have behavioural issues but does have confirmed allergies to oats that makes him scratch himself raw. Oats are in an awful lot of feeds in the form of oat straw or oatfeed so I have to read labels carefully. I had the allergy confirmed via some of blood sample that they took away and tested against various things.

He did do the wild eyes thing when fed a Top Spec balancer but not sure if that was the oatfeed in it or just that it was Top Spec which is known for sending them loopy!

Slightly off topic I know but thought it might be of interest to people struggling with food intolerances more generally.
 

NinjaPony

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My ‘practically perfect in every way’ Connemara turned into a fire breathing dragon within 24 hours of having a senior chaff which had a light molasses coating. Took him off it and back on his molasses free Alfa-a and I had my pony back! I’d only ever given him molasses free to help with his weight anyway but turns out that was just as well…
I ended up getting allergy tests done for his breathing issues and it turned out he was allergic to oats and wheat which is a nightmare as they creep into everything! Ended up on meadow grass chaff which did the trick and didn’t send him loopy either.
 

splashgirl45

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my mare was pretty sharp all of the time but went completely loopy when the yard changed to calm and condition. it didnt affect any of the others but after taking her off it she went back to being just sharp after about 4 days. the same when all were given a load of carrots , that also was a no no for her.. 1 or 2 carrots a day were ok but more changed her into the loony...
 

Annagain

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Monty's intolerance / allergy doesn't result in behaviour issues but sugar gives him a terrible, scabby, itchy rash on his back legs which can develop into bleeding sores. Even one carrot is enough to set him off. He'd had lots of veterinary intervention and treatment including skin scrapes but nobody suspected his food of causing it. The normal pattern was a terrible rash in spring which died down over summer, flared up again in autumn then stayed at a lower level all winter before worsening again in spring. One autumn, he was a bit fat so we didn't start feeding him and I noticed that once the flush of grass was dying down his rash was improving. It was only then that the penny dropped that it was his food. I did some research and expected it to be Alfalfa. We introduced his feed one thing at a time, starting with Alfa A and he was fine. His rash then started a bit when we added cool mix but went crazy within 12 hours of us adding (traditional) sugar beet. We then worked out it was sugar, started him on as low sugar a diet as we could and he had no rash at all over the winter. It started again but at a much more manageable level in spring.

On the plus side, he's an excellent lami indicator. As soon as his legs start, the owners of the lami prone horses at the yard get the muzzles out!

I also remember my old boy going a bit loopy when I put him on senior mix. He died in 2005 and this was a good few years before he died so was long before we knew about intolerances. When he got excited he would do this thing where he'd move his front feet but forget to move his back ones. After a few days on senior mix he did that to such an extreme that my feet (I was tall on him) touched the ground. I had to jump off as there was no way he'd have got back up from that position with me on him. I put it down to the feed being too high in energy for him and stopped it but the more I think about it, there must have been something in it that disagreed with him.
 

asmp

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Our AppyX came out in hives after being fed Moles own brand chaff some years ago.

We had behavioural problems with him a year ago. Spent a fortune at the vets trying to find out what was wrong, Including full body scan but nothing really stood out. Do wonder if something upset him feed related but not sure what.
 

paddy555

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I For the last month I've been moving him onto a plain horse cube because of the length of time he takes to eat grass pellets. They contain oil extracted linseed, wheat feed and oatfeed. Things were going extremely well with his weight going up on less food. But a couple of nights ago he came in at night with the wild eyes (it had been building up, it wasn't totally unexpected) and my lovely submissive quiet boy ran right through me to get to look out over the door. Two days off the cubes and he's right back to normal.


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I'm in the same position with 2 riding horses but I am unable to make the link to anything. Like above I take them off whatever I think is suspect, get back to normal and 2 days later we are back to wild eyes. It is very disappointing.

Some days they are both spooky ridden and some days only one of them, some times it relates to wilder weather. it is difficult to see that my horse can be ridden on the buckle with me fast asleep one day and the next he spooks at everything (and I mean everything) and if a horse either comes up behind us or we hear it in front on the road he really panics. Today a horse came down the road towards us and he put his head up and looked but kept on walking. Another day it is 180 degree turn and back down the road.
I have been working on food intolerance for a while so this thread is very timely but I just cannot make the link.



the feed between the 2 of them is soaked hay
one gets micro linseed the other gets none
copra
grass nuts
hi fibre nut
alfalfa nuts which I have been trying to relate it to but can't really
equimins AC
salt
vit E


one is fat and one thin.

has anyone had problems with copra? I am thinking of just feeding copra to start an elimination diet
can anyone link Dengie grass pellets to problems?
 

YorksG

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We could almost write a book!
The original intolerant one was tbx Welsh d. All cereal and any processed sugar had dire effects on her. She could eat alfalfa though. She had been very poor as a two year old and the person who bought her at 3 then over fed her, which we think, at least partially, caused the problem. We didn't work it out quickly enough and believe that it caused some long term brain damage. She was also never able to sort her own temperature control, had heat stroke, while others were OK and felt the cold dreadfully. We only discovered the problem after she developed a cough and I had read an article about another horse that coughed on certain feed. This was about 30 years ago.
Two appys who could not tolerate alfalfa, or carrots. Ycbms description of wild eyed, bolshy, running through you fits perfectly. The beautifully mannered, under saddle, appy turned into a rocking horse, in the middle of the road, oblivious to traffic, my life flashed before my eyes that day!
The German kalt blud could not tolerate brewers yeast, she came out in running sores. Neither her or one of the apps above, could tolerate naff pink powder and haylage balancer, both not themselves and got footy.
We now keep our feeding very, very simple! We also watch very carefully if we do add anything in. Currently using forage plus balancer and watching like a hawk for any changes
 

SEL

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I have one who is an equine dustbin and can eat anything - which is handy because his two fieldmates have put me through the mill and he gets their rejects.

My Appy itches on alfalfa and it caused her to photosensitize when I first had her. Took me a while to realise it was the problem, but I ran out and used something else and all the nasty sore bits vanished. Back on it and back they came. I had the pony on happy hoof last year and tried the Appy on it and she was rubbing herself raw within a fortnight. She also itches and gets a bit odd on linseed - starts staring at the sky and being generally grumpy. So many supplements have linseed as a filler its a real PITA. She's being a bit of a nightmare at the moment and I've got a lightly molassed chaff in so now I'm pondering whether to take her off that for a few weeks and see if that's also an issue. She only needs a tiny feed to hide her vitamin E and boswellia but it does seem even small amounts of stuff she can't handle goes straight to her head or her skin.

The thelwell pony came to me with gut problems and I still haven't got to the bottom of what triggers them but kwikbeet is high on the list of things she just can't manage. I have always fed beet but not to this one because it goes straight through her and even a tiny bit seems to set her off. Currently Pure feeds seems to be ok-ish.
 

YorksG

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I'm in the same position with 2 riding horses but I am unable to make the link to anything. Like above I take them off whatever I think is suspect, get back to normal and 2 days later we are back to wild eyes. It is very disappointing.

Some days they are both spooky ridden and some days only one of them, some times it relates to wilder weather. it is difficult to see that my horse can be ridden on the buckle with me fast asleep one day and the next he spooks at everything (and I mean everything) and if a horse either comes up behind us or we hear it in front on the road he really panics. Today a horse came down the road towards us and he put his head up and looked but kept on walking. Another day it is 180 degree turn and back down the road.
I have been working on food intolerance for a while so this thread is very timely but I just cannot make the link.



the feed between the 2 of them is soaked hay
one gets micro linseed the other gets none
copra
grass nuts
hi fibre nut
alfalfa nuts which I have been trying to relate it to but can't really
equimins AC
salt
vit E


one is fat and one thin.

has anyone had problems with copra? I am thinking of just feeding copra to start an elimination diet
can anyone link Dengie grass pellets to problems?
I would remove all feed, other than forage, for at least a week, preferably longer and watch very, very carefully when introducing anything.
 

SEL

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it is difficult to see that my horse can be ridden on the buckle with me fast asleep one day and the next he spooks at everything (and I mean everything) and if a horse either comes up behind us or we hear it in front on the road he really panics. Today a horse came down the road towards us and he put his head up and looked but kept on walking. Another day it is 180 degree turn and back down the road.
That's my Appy mare. She's on such basic feed now that I'm struggling to see a link to feed but we can plod up the road (in hand rehab) like a seaside donkey one day and then I have fire breathing dragon the next. It doesn't appear to be hormones either. A friend has recommended one of the Ron Field's herbal blends to me so might have a look.
 

SlinkyMinxy

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My older mare reacted really badly to anything with high levels of plant oestrogens in it. Soya was the worst offender but she also reacted to many other feed ingredients. It made her come into season all year round and her ovaries were very swollen and painful, which made her very grumpy and badly behaved. When I could get the plant oestrogens out of her diet, she was a different horse, but it got to the point where I couldn't find anything to feed her on, except for grazing (and even then if it contained red clover, she would react to that). In the end, I had her ovaries removed as I didn't want to breed from her anyway. She is now angelic - most of the time!
 

palo1

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I already knew my Appyx wasn't able to eat alfalfa. He turns into a different horse with a wild light in his eyes on even 100g a day. I had suspicions about linseed too, but stopped it before we got too far into the mad light stage. And the same with cereals. At the start of this winter I had some wrongly made haylage, too wet and acidic (supplier was brilliant and took it away) and that did the same thing. For the last month I've been moving him onto a plain horse cube because of the length of time he takes to eat grass pellets. They contain oil extracted linseed, wheat feed and oatfeed. Things were going extremely well with his weight going up on less food. But a couple of nights ago he came in at night with the wild eyes (it had been building up, it wasn't totally unexpected) and my lovely submissive quiet boy ran right through me to get to look out over the door. Two days off the cubes and he's right back to normal.

Three years ago I had a TB who was beginning to behave differently when I put him on a fattening feed full of soya. I stopped the soya and on less food, he gained weight and was much calmer to ride. Numerous people said "he's just a thoroughbred" about his weight and his schooling. But he wasn't, he was soya intolerant.

I thought it would be interesting to share food intolerance stories in one place. I know quite a few people have them, and it was Pearlsasinger who first alerted me to the potential for food intolerance to affect behaviour really badly. I hope that some of the many people struggling with their horse's behaviour might find the thread and consider whether it could be related to what they are feeding, even if it's a perfectly normal feed for many horses.
.
My appy x cannot tolerate any cereals (or straw which results in hives), alfalfa or quick soaking beet; his behaviour becomes just dire or he has hindgut issues or both! Thankfully he is fine with small amounts of linseed, grass nuts, rice (as in Key Plus) and traditional high sugar, long soak sugar beet. Haylage is ok if not too wet/powerful. It took me ages to work out what is 'safe' for him. He is an absolute gentleman naturally so behavioural issues always tend to make me suspicious of a feed problem. I have struggled to find feed that is both safe and either reasonably conditioning in the winter or satisfactory as a carrier for minerals in the summer! He loves pink mash but it hasn't got enough calories to be sustainable to feed him in the winter though it is fine for carrying minerals in the summer. Winter feed consists of mostly soaked grass nuts with a small amount of long soak sugar beet and either key plus or linseed depending on whether he needs more or less! He has been such a learning curve...but I now always start any horse with straights so I know exactly what is what.
 

palo1

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To those who are pretty sure that they've checked all feed, be very aware of what other people may be studying in your horse! We came across people feeding bread to our original problem horse:eek:
Yeah! This!! Some idiot fed my poor chap digestive biscuits and prawn crackers (he was on livery at the time) whilst on box rest. I had to do the hand walking with him on 2 legs until I found out. Threats of vet bills stopped that stupidity...
 

ycbm

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Wow, such a lot of responses and so many feeds causing issues.

It reminded me that long ago I had aTB mare I couldn't get weight on. I stopped the sugar beet, just as a trial, and on it went.

I had a friend with a mare who itched like crazy if feed even 1 carrot, too.
.
 
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palo1

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I refused to feed 'traditional' highly molassed long soak sugar beet for ages because of my horse's reaction to short soak sugar beet. Previously I had fed it successfully in winter for years and never had any problems. It's not a crop that I particularly want to buy into either but bizarrely, it turns out that it is fine, more than fine for my appy x. Starch has always been more of a problem to him than sugar too though I am careful with sugars. Short soak, unmollassed sugar beet (speedi beet and relatives) made my chap very unhappy, footy and irrational. It's very odd but I guess part of the manufacturing process is to blame rather than the actual sugar beet or horrible cheap molasses that it is coated in. Carrots are also a bit tricky...!!
 

Tiddlypom

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And because horses like to make fools of us, or at least mine all do, I resolutely refused to feed alfalfa of any sort (barring the small amount in Protexin gut balancer) to mine.

Then when my very feed sensitive/reactive mare's Equibiome report came back, it was advised to feed her some alfalfa. 'No chance', I initially thought. Then, on reflection, I decided that having paid £150 for the analysis that I had better follow the recommendations.

She is thriving on the stuff :D.

Horses, eh?
 

Rowreach

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My mare's dangerous (and obviously very distressing for her) headshaking and general spookiness and fear of large vehicles was caused by my previous YO deciding she was too "thin" (in my eyes she was a perfect weight but not the show cob "condition" the YO liked) and feeding her a mix of alfalfa and high sugar feeds, not to mention a few supplements which I didn't know about :mad:

When the headshaking first started it was gradual and then escalated during the autumn (when the hard feed was increased and she was being fed haylage). I asked for her to be taken off the haylage and for all feed and supplements to be dropped, and to start again with plain hay and basic unmolassed SB and build it from there. The headshaking decreased to the point it was almost imperceptible, but in January last year she began to get worse again. I queried with the YO and her husband, who also did the horses, and both insisted her feed hadn't changed (there was a lot of gaslighting at this point). Shortly after this I nearly caught the YO putting a huge feed in my horse's stable (she did a massive swerve when she saw me), so I kept a look out and one day found a humungous net of haylage and a huge feed in her stable.

When challenged, the YO and her OH were extremely unpleasant, and I moved my mare within days. It took two days from changing her feed regime for me to notice an improvement in the headshaking, and one week in a quieter less screechy yard for her whole demeanour to start to change. Her personality has blossomed and she is a complete darling to deal with and ride, absolutely fabulous on the roads, non spooky, non stressy, just a total dote.

She is now on good quality hay, unmolassed SB, grass nuts and whole oats, looks an absolute picture, all shiny and fit not fat.

Previous YO blocked me on everything, but I know she occasionally lurks on here so I hope she sees this and understands what damage her actions caused.

Oh and the new YO is just the absolute best, loveliest, would do anything for you sort of person I could possibly wish for, so we fell on our feet/hooves there :)
 

laura_nash

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Both my cobs (who aren't related) get very itchy from sugar, even just high sugar levels in the grass. I've never fed them mollassed feed, but if I did I think they'd look like they had sweet itch. My older one also gets hives from some haylages. Luckily no behavioural reactions to food though, and both are on Top Spec now without becoming wild :)
 

Cowpony

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One of mine has always gone a bit loopy on carrots, so she doesn't get any. Having fed Calm & Condition for years, I moved her onto something else and she got very itchy. Turned out it was the soya, and now she can't tolerate the C&C any more as that has soya in it too. It's as if the other feed sensitised her to it.

Interested to hear about speedi-beet and linseed. My other one is on both and has turned far more spooky than she used to be. I put it down to her feeling well, but maybe I need to try eliminating these......
 

lynz88

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Weird things happen to mine when he goes onto beet pulp over here. He's never had an issue and he didn't have an issue at my previous yard so it must be something about the one that my current yard gets. Namely, he started developing a sarcoid last year but come the spring it stopped growing. In the summer I put him on the Global Herbs stuff and it started shrinking and was close to disappearing (even popped one out). Then, he went back onto the beet pulp foe the winter and they grew exponentially. I've taken him off when someone on here mentioned a potential issue with calcium/phosphorous levels and some weird behaviour (which I have since found out he has injured himself but will keep him off BP and will keep him on Protexin regardless now) and in a week one of his shrank to about 1/4 of the size and another had started to ulcerate. I've never had any issue with sarcoids except for when one started growing last year....after starting on the BP that the livery feeds......

I also found that high starch especially makes his eyes weepy and watery, especially in the summer. Could never really figure it out and this year switched his diet to prepare him to go barefoot and his weepy, watery eyes stopped. I noticed that this year while on the BP his eyes started to get goopy again and they now seem much better now that he's been off the BP.
 
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lynz88

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It doesn't sound as though shoes are going to work for him and that your last option is to try to build the heels going barefoot again. Big horses with flat feet are always going to be difficult to take barefoot, I think, but I have done a 17 hand horse whose feet simply couldn't have been any flatter, they were concave. Boots were the answer for him, are there any boots that will fit yours?

Diet is often key. Did you make any diet changes to your guy when you tried? What was he fed?
.
I refused to feed 'traditional' highly molassed long soak sugar beet for ages because of my horse's reaction to short soak sugar beet. Previously I had fed it successfully in winter for years and never had any problems. It's not a crop that I particularly want to buy into either but bizarrely, it turns out that it is fine, more than fine for my appy x. Starch has always been more of a problem to him than sugar too though I am careful with sugars. Short soak, unmollassed sugar beet (speedi beet and relatives) made my chap very unhappy, footy and irrational. It's very odd but I guess part of the manufacturing process is to blame rather than the actual sugar beet or horrible cheap molasses that it is coated in. Carrots are also a bit tricky...!!
I suspect I've got the same issue with the short soak vs regular beet pulp that takes 12 hours or so to soak.
 
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