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Alison, Sancho and Laucha

Alison owns two Criollo ponies called Sancho and Laucha, each with their own set of issues which have required significant effort to improve. Alison’s dedication, along with help from EquiBiome, has resulted in good progress for both ponies.

Two Very Good Doers

When Alison read a book about Criollo ponies as a child she fell in love with the breed as they sounded perfect for endurance and crossing varied terrain. However, they were hard to find in the UK. Sancho came over from Argentina in a consignment on a boat in 2008, imported by Dutch dealers, and was bought from a UK dealer in winter of 2012. These ponies are super good doers and he arrived very fat with pottery feet. Laucha was bred in Wales from the same stock that came over with Sancho and was bought, again hugely overweight with terrible laminitic feet, in 2016.

Sancho’s Struggles: Gastric Ulcers, a Terrible Virus and Recovery

Sancho has been with Alison for eight years and is now 16. He had a very successful Novice Endurance season in 2014 but just didn’t seem quite right and was easily stressed. In 2015, Sancho was scoped and diagnosed with low grade ulcers and put on Omeprazole. Two to three months later, following more ulcer symptoms, he was put on another course of Omeprazole and then started to improve.

Then, also in 2015, he contracted a horrible virus. He was tested for all the usual suspects like Flu, Herpes and Strep Zooepidemicus but all came back negative…. This mystery virus nearly killed him. He was off work all that year and developed heart arrhythmia due to the impact of the virus on his system. He had virtually a year off and then went back into work, hacking at home and doing lessons in Legerite to help him to use his body to his best advantage. He also started having Equine Touch sessions that he really objected to at first, but gradually came to accept that they were helping him as he underwent gut improvements.

Gaining Insights With EquiBiome

Alison had heard about the EquiBiome Test and knew that the ulcers compromised his gut. She wanted to find out more about what was going on with Sancho, as he had plenty of fibre in his diet and natural feeds that were easy on his gut but he still seemed slightly dull.

The test revealed stress and inflammation and low levels of certain bacteria. However, there were some good ones too so it was a mixed picture indicating some room for improvement. The stressed gut was no surprise to Alison.

Dietary Changes and Improvement

Sancho is barefoot and was very susceptible to grass at the time, so EquiBiome recommended various changes to his diet, specifically to increase gut wall renewal and integrity.

Following the addition of various plants, herbs and the Biome Food, by the end of 2016 Sancho was looking and feeling much better. His heart was back to normal and Alison had started doing Endurance again in the middle of the 2016 season when they hit another bump in the road. He vetted normal at the start of the ride and felt fine during the ride but when vetted at the end, his heart arrhythmia had returned.

Said Alison: “We decided it would be best for him to have more time off and after three months, his heart arrhythmia corrected itself again. 2018 saw him doing really well with my daughter riding him and people remarked how well he was looking.

“I worked so hard during this time to increase the diversity in his diet, with meadow hay from three different sources and gathering “pony salad” from the garden and hedgerows. With the recommended Biome Foods, the Equine Touch sessions and the lessons to improve the way he carries himself, we have improved him so much mentally and physically. Changing his diet has had a huge impact.”

Laucha’s Journey: Laminitis and Rehabilitation

When Sancho was recovering from his virus, Alison bought Laucha, a little Criollo mare, through an advert on Preloved! She was stumpy and tubby and not at all as advertised, but her future was in doubt due to the owner’s circumstances. So, despite misgivings, she bought her…an obese, laminitic mare with an attitude problem. Alison expected this was due to her having sore feet. Laucha’s feet were upright like a donkey’s and ridged all the way down. Although nearly six, it was obvious she hadn’t been backed properly. She was fat, bloated and had poor muscle tone. Alison decided to take the EquiBiome Test to help her to improve Laucha’s feet and body condition.

Laucha’s EquiBiome test revealed less inflammation and stress than it had for Sancho, but her gut was imbalanced. She started on the recommended Biome Food to increase microbiome diversity and reduce bad bacteria.

Once Laucha was less bloated and pottery on her feet, Alison re-backed her and found a saddle that was comfortable. As she had walked with sore feet for so long, it took a long time to improve her ridden work and get her to move comfortably and correctly.

“I knew it would be a long uphill struggle, but she has proved to be a good buy,” said Alison.

After three years Laucha’s boxy, ridged hooves improved enormously, as did her muscle tone. With Equine Touch and lessons, she has turned out to be a fantastic little endurance pony, winning one trophy in 2018 and three trophies and a second prize in 2019.

Retesting with EquiBiome and Ongoing Care

Both the ponies had a second test approximately. a year after the first one. It showed fewer bad bacteria, but conversely some of the good bacteria had gone. The gut is a dynamic system with many influences on it.

Both of Alison’s horses have forage diets, including a “pony friendly” hedge to help themselves from. Rosehips, artemisia, cow parsley, rushes and heather are eaten on “picnic” walks. Also, the mud around a huge puddle on the hill is consumed avidly!

Alison said: “Following higher than usual worm egg counts at the end of 2019, the ponies had a course of Biome 4 before worming and then Biome 7. The ponies have never had an adverse reaction to Biome foods 4/5 or 7. Both ponies are shiny in their winter coats and out 24/7 without rugs. Sancho has never looked or moved better.

The test may seem expensive but the science behind it is so advanced it costs a lot of money to run the samples. It really helped me to improve my ponies’ health and they now enjoy being ridden again. For anyone wanting to rule things out or find out what is going on in the gut if they have concerns, I would recommend the test.”

Alison is planning to re-test both ponies in 2020.

The EquiBiome Test as a Valuable Tool

The EquiBiome Test and our Biome Foods are not intended to cure or treat any condition. However, the EquiBiome Test can provide insights into the state of the microbiome in the horse’s hind gut. Taking the EquiBiome Test allowed Alison to understand Sancho and Laucha’s microbiomes and make the necessary adjustments to their diets.

Ready to uncover insights about your horse’s hind gut health? Explore our range of equine faecal test kits and discover the keys to supporting your horse’s gut health.

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