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Many horses are now prone to digestive disorders such as faecal water, diarrhoea, or flatulence often more noticeable in the winter months. There can be many causes for this and, depending on the horse, several causes can come together and all lead to the same symptom. Unfortunately, there has been very little scientific research into faecal water in particular; there is essentially one study that has identified stress as a possible cause (

Stress can be a cause

The few publications all, more or less, summarise the findings that many horses suffer from faecal water syndrome, especially in winter, and it is at least known that stress can be one of the causes (

Among other things, chronic stress leads to poor blood circulation in the intestinal mucosa, which promotes inflammatory processes, incorrect fermentation and, ultimately, faecal water. However, many other factors are also suspected to be at fault, from dental problems to “acidic” feed such as haylage to incorrect colonisation in the large intestine.

Eye of stressed horse
Constant stress can cause digestive problems. © Adobe Stock / hhurma13

Always find the possible causes and remove

If you have a horse that is affected by such intestinal disorders, you should always look for possible causes and remove these. Generally speaking, this means reducing stress, which can be caused, for example, by unsuitable herd groupings, lack of personal space, long breaks for roughage, too little roughage/feeding places, lack of sleeping opportunities, frequently changing herd behaviour for the highest-ranking position, lack of a herd leader and so on. It is also important to avoid feed that can disrupt colon homeostasis, such as ensiled feed, structured chaff, fermented feed, and “probiotics” based on lactic acid bacteria or brewer’s yeast. It is also important to support the intestine in its natural function.

What can be fed to support the daily feed intake?

We recommend the administration of OKAPI ColoProtect which was developed to support the physiological balance in the large intestine. It can also be fed over longer periods of time if required.

Prior to that, a colon restoration protocol can be given to further support the gastrointestinal tract; for example with the administration of OKAPI Bitter herbs over a period of 6 weeks, whereby OKAPI Liquorice Extract should be added in the first and last two weeks. The administration of OKAPI Lax Flohsamenschalen or OKAPI Whole Psyllium during intestinal cleansing support has also proved to be beneficial. If there is a tendency for flatulence OKAPI Intestinal Support Herbs can also be used alongside veterinary treatment. As intestinal problems can have considerable long-term effects on the metabolism, we strongly recommend that any treatment is accompanied by a competent therapist or vet.


Team Sanoanimal