Take Notice of Yellow Fox Tail (reposted from Mary Midkiff March Newsletter)

Behavior Problems Can Originate from Intestinal Discomfort

This article leads me back to my warning over 2 years ago about the dreaded Yellow Foxtail weed.  It is becoming more and more invasive as we experience drought conditions followed by wet conditions.  Many hay farmers are looking for solutions to eradicate this particular variety of weed but have yet to solve the issue.

I couldn’t help noticing this winter, while a batch of hay containing loads of thick stalks and the pesky Yellow Foxtail weed was being fed, how the horses became more cranky, more nervous and actually began bucking and kicking out behind.

Yellowfoxtail close up
Yellow Foxtail

When I first saw the hay, which can look harmless until you open up the bale and see the seed heads and stalks, I checked the horse’s mouths and sure enough the ulcerated sores were starting to accumulate from the stickers of the foxtail seed head and the tough thick stalks of the plant.

I immediately began taking it out of the stall and replacing it with good hay or I would pick out the foxtail the best that I could.  But that still was not enough to keep the horses free of it.

I kept noticing how the horse’s behavior was changing as they ingested this hay and it reminded me once again how most of horse’s behavior issues are related to their internal systems.

Besides the mouth being uncomfortable with ulcers, the intestinal tract was the most affected especially in the cecum and small intestine which is located near the right hind flank of the horse.  Horses with an inflammation or “IBS” irritable bowel syndrome from ingesting weeds, sand, chemically treated grass or other irritants will begin by being fussy or restless. They will begin to pin their ears, become highly sensitive to touch and grooming, become distant and resistant to being handled. That condition if not handled right away will then turn into bad behavior issues.

The horse will not have any other way of acting or telling you they are very uncomfortable and when they move in certain ways the IBS hurts. With the foxtail stickers they will actually flinch when they are pricked in their colon.

A horse in this condition will not want to carry a bit, a saddle, have a girth tightened, have a rider mount or work where the IBS condition will always be on their mind and emotionally and physically causing trauma. They can become dangerous and may become a bucker, spooker or refuse to let you mount.

So before anyone gets hurt you can intervene and make sure the problem does not escalate to the horse becoming dangerous and demonstrating severe pain.  Always use The InBalance Horse essential oil blend every time you work with your horse to help your horse’s nervous system especially while they are uncomfortable and in pain.

1) Take out foxtail seed heads:Take precautions by opening each bale of hay before it is fed and make sure there is no sign of yellow foxtail seed heads and thick stalks and sticks.
The soft green foxtail seed heads are fine and easily digested.

2)Throw away or give to ruminants: If you do find bales with these weeds throw them off to the side and give them to ruminant animals.

3) Check your horse’s mouth for ulcers on the insides of the lips, gums and cheeks. Use an iodine/water (1 drop of pure iodine to 1 oz. of water ratio) drench and Campho-phenique on the ulcers for a few days until they soften and dissolve.

4) Immediately place 1 tablespoon of Epsom Salts in your horse’s feed twice daily. You can also put the salts in the horse’s water bucket. (You can use any Epsom Salts from a grocery or drug store). Do this for 10 days then reduce to 1 Tablespoon daily for 2 weeks until you see your horse return to calm, relaxed and happy status.

5) Also feed a probiotic. I like to use Blue Ridge Distribution natural Probiotic. But there are many on the market. Feed this supplement for at least 2 weeks while the enzymes are re balancing the gut.

6) And you can also add an ulcer aid or intestinal relaxant with herbs while the horse is healing for a few weeks. Remember you are working with healing the gut and the emotional state!

7) Another solution to this issue is to add Chia seeds to your horse’s ration daily. Go To US Chia to learn all about chia grown in Kentucky and produced for the horse market. This seed goes a long way to alleviate any debris, inflammation or obstruction in the intestinal channels.  The minute the seeds hit moisture they turn into a gel and become like a bubble blob moving through the smooth muscles of the digestive tract.  They also contain more Omegas than fish or flax oil.  Give it a try. I love it for me and the horses!

8) If you can or if you have a professional that can help you use therapy.  Energy work will move energy from head to tail and ask the horse to help you move the muscling around the gut area. Horse’s in pain and discomfort many times will shut down and become stagnate. We want the energy increased to flush and heighten the movement of the gut outward. I use dowsing and acupressure methods to do this with the horse and they always appreciate it greatly.

Once you have followed this protocol and the horse is not ingesting the irritant anymore your horse should become relaxed and happy to work again. The bucking, spooking, bad behavior and attitude will cease. But be sure to understand the horse needs to be told by you and reminded by you that he or she is okay now and they don’t have to worry about being in pain anymore. If this behavior starts again you now know what to do.

About chocolatehorsefarmgypsyhorses

co owner of Chocolate Horse Farm, breeder and trainer of Gypsy Vanner horses.
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