Studies have shown that among many benefits, saturated fatty acids give the following effects in horses:
Increased muscle gylcogen content,
Increased sparing of muscle glycogen during light work
Increased utilisation of muscle gylcogen during heavy work.
Encourages strong bones and joints for mobility and stability. Improved hoof growth and integrity as well as aiding formation of the hoof wall.
Coconut oil promotes soft and healthy skin, coat, mane and tail. Bringing their natural colours to life
Coconut oil improves digestive functions and nutrient absorption, while maintaining insulin sensitivity and gut function.
Unsaturated oils such as rice bran, corn, soybean, flax do not give these effects.
Saturated oils are derived from animal fats, or coconut oil. Animal fats are unacceptable in horse feeds.
Coconut oil is a beautiful, palatable source of saturated fatty acids that horses love.
Although horse diets have always contained small amounts of oil, a plethora of research and anecdotal evidence suggests that they are adept at utilising higher percentages of oil in their diets. Horses adapted to higher-oil diets can digest and transport this extra dietary oil, as evidenced by increased bile production and elevated levels of lipoproteins in blood serum (lipoproteins are the proteins in blood that carry oil molecules). Unlike other animals, in the horse, bile is secrete fairly continuously from the liver and passes via a bile duct directly into the duodenum (bile is a salt solution which helps in the digestion and absorption of oils). Horses can then metabolise oils as an energy source through a process called ‘fatty acid oxidation'. Hence, horses can efficiently digest, metabolise and utilise quite high levels of oils.
Oil is very energy dense, and yield about 2¼ times more energy than starch or protein. This may be useful for a number of reasons including reduction in gut fill and reduction in feed intake required to sustain maintenance and exercise.
The total amount of heat waste produced per unit of energy is different for different feeds, with oils producing significantly less heat waste than fermentable carbohydrates, roughages and proteins. Oil-supplemented horses in hot conditions have been reported to have lower mean body temperatures than those consuming high roughage and high grain diets. Further, oil metabolism yields almost twice the water of protein and carbohydrate metabolism. This may benefit horses that sweat profusely. The combined effects of oil feeding are to reduce thermal load and increase water production in horses working in hot environments.
When starch (typically in the form of grain), is fed to horses in large quantities, there is a risk of starch overload into the hindgut. This can culminate in "fizzy" behaviour, which can result in stressful and dangerous situations for both horse and rider. The risk of starch overload can be minimised by replacing some grain in the feed with oil, to provide energy. Oil provides a source of ‘cool' energy, which is not associated with ‘fizzy' behaviour.
Once adapted to higher levels of dietary oil, horses can utilise oil for energy during submaximal/aerobic exercise. This is achieved via fatty acid oxidation and has the effect of sparing muscle glycogen stores.Subsequently, horses appear able to utilise the greater muscle glycogen stores during high intensity/anaerobic activity. This phenomenon has implications such as delaying time to onset of fatigue and increasing capacity for high intensity exercise.
The benefits of supplemental oil for horses, extend beyond its use merely as a grain alternative. Oil-supplementation can help prevent fizzy behaviour and various types of tying-up, and reduce the thermal load on horses in hot climates. Oil feeding can even provide energy for submaximal work and may increase capacity for high intensity exercise.
Majority of oils end up in the liver via lymphatics whereas in comparison coconut oil is absorbed directly into the portal blood and transported directly to the liver where it is readily available.
So if you haven't already added coconut oil or products to your horses feed, you can now confidently do so knowing that it is safe, beneficial and delicious!
AND, while you can buy specific 'Pets' coconut oil, you don't have to.... you can simply give the same beautiful oil that you buy for yourself to your pets! They benefit from the best just as we do. I find that many people move to buying the larger buckets so that they can give it not only to the whole human family, but whole animal family too!
Our 5L bucket is a great one to keep with your animal feed:
information sourced though stanceequine.com