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Horse Gut Health Management: How Bacteria Contribute to Health

There has, in recent years, been increased scientific interest in the relationship between the microbiome and equine health. This interest has mainly stemmed from human medicine. In horses, the science is still in its infancy. However, through collecting samples from thousands of horses of various ages and breeds, in different locations and disciplines, we have been able to advance the research in this area. 

The horse's hind gut bacteria is delicately balanced, and many horses have a lack of diversity in the microbiome or too many of the wrong types of gut bacteria. These horses often have a history of gastric discomfort or colic, as well as metabolic disorders such as EMS and laminitis. 

Our mission is to empower horse owners with a better understanding of their horse’s gut health and help to take some of the guesswork out of what and how to feed their horses.  

Good Gut Bacteria

A diverse community of good bacteria is key to supporting the horse’s digestive system and overall health. Good gut bacteria perform a range of vital functions:

  • Good bacteria make vitamins and allow minerals to be better absorbed

  • They mend the gut wall and help prevent ulcers and hind gut inflammation

  • They defend against the invasion of bad (pathogenic bacteria)

  • They produce energy and promote a good immune response


Bad Bacteria

Bad bacteria are linked to disease and poor health in horses. By supporting a healthy gut microbiome, we can manage the presence of bad bacteria and the negative impacts:

  • Bad bacteria cause disease, colitis, colic, gastric ulcers and inflammation

  • Overgrowth of bad bacteria is common. This is often caused by changes in diet, stress, medication for ulcers (omeprazole) and pain (bute)

  • An overgrowth of bad bacteria creates an imbalance within the hind gut community  

The EquiBiome Report
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The EquiBiome Report

This report is an analysis of the 16S rRNA gene to give you a real time snapshot of the hind gut microbial community of the horse. It is not intended to be used to diagnose any illness. Please consult your vet if your horse is in discomfort.

Illumina MiSeq is used to generate this report. It is the most accurate and up to date technology, preferred by genomic researchers around the world.

In horses, the knowledge and science relating to the microbiome and links to health and disease are in their infancy. Much more research has been done, and better conclusions reached, because higher numbers of samples have been used.

It is our aim to sample as many different groups (populations) of horses as we can. This will increase our knowledge in line with human research, offering the best and most accurate service possible.

Rebalancing the Gut

  • Re-balancing the gut is easy if you know where the imbalances are within the bacteria community 

  • Scientific research has linked every gastrointestinal disease to the gut bacteria

  • The EquiBiome Report will identify the bacteria causing the imbalances.

  • The EquiBiome report will tell you how and what to feed to increase overall health by improving the good gut bacteria 

Building Our Equine Gut Health Database

EquiBiome has the largest library of equine data in the world and we use this information to help us to identify and accurately describe the bacteria that contribute to a healthy biome. The more data we gather, the better we can understand equine gut health and the links between the microbiome and overall equine health.

We have gathered and analysed faecal samples from the following:

  • Thoroughbreds in Training

  • The Wild Carneddau Ponies

  • Native Ponies

  • Horses At Livery

  • Obese Horses

  • Horses with:

    • Laminitis

    • Sarcoids

    • Diarrhoea

    • Lyme's

    • Grass Sickness

    • Infections

    • Ulcers

    • Hind Gut Discomfort

    • Faecal Water Syndrome

    • Temperament problems

  • Horses on Medication Antibiotics, Bute, NSAID's and Antacids.

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