Isobel and tigress
Isobel is the owner of Tigress; a 10-year-old TB X ID mare that was home bred and now stands at 16hh. Tigress is more Thoroughbred than Irish Draft and can be highly strung and hypersensitive. She is kept on a dairy farm and has been there since she was just a year old. The farmer never sprays the fields and the grazing includes rye grass and access to hedgerows.
The summer before last Isobel noticed that Tigress had put on more weight than usual and was looking bloated. Her routine was to graze overnight for around eight hours to avoid the flies and then spend the day in a barn with some hay. She had never struggled with her weight before and often went off her food if she was stressed, so Isobel was quite surprised with this sudden change as she is not the type of horse that will stuff herself with grass. Isobel put the weight gain down to the fact she wasn’t in work and the grass was good. Isobel tried using a grazing muzzle to restrict Tigress’ grazing but she wouldn’t keep it on.
The following summer, after just two days of being back out on grass Tigress was bloating again and this time Isobel knew it couldn’t be weight gain or a lack of work. Around this time, Nic Partington told Isobel about EquiBiome so she decided to take the test after being referred by Jennie Blakehill of Harmony Horsemanship in the hope it would provide some answers.
Tigress’ faecal sample was sent off to the lab in July and her bloating became more pronounced and she was progressively more stressed.
Said Isobel: “In early August before the results were back, my friend hacked out Tigress who was very spooky on the ride and became unsettled heading home. When we got back she just stood with her head down in the corner of the stable and I knew she wasn’t right. After that I reduced her workload and decided to only let her hack out in company in the hope she would be calmer.
“On a subsequent hack with my friend who was riding Tigress’ sister, we were heading down a hill and her right-hind felt odd in walk so we turned back to the farm. After trotting up she looked a bit uncomfortable but was fine on a circle. I did notice she was a bit ‘girthy’ though which was unusual for Tigress.”
The EquiBiome test results came back in September and revealed a worryingly low diversity in the hind gut of just 630 (the average healthy horse has around 1000-1500 different species). Tigress also had high levels of certain ‘bad bacteria’, so the EquiBiome Report made several recommendations to re-balance the gut and increase the diversity.
Tigress was put on Biome Food 5 and then no.4. After five weeks Isobel noticed that the bloating had gone and Tigress then went on to spend winter in the barn with access to hawthorn, willow and over things that EquiBiome recommended alongside the Biome Food. In general she seemed more settled and Isobel was able to hack her out with less spooky behaviour.
Said Isobel: “Tigress goes crazy for willow and seems to be enjoying more variety in her diet, I plan to get her retested in the spring. I work as an equine physiotherapist and have recommended the test to a client whose young ISH became grumpy and reluctant to work. He also has an odd swelling behind his ribcage where he dips in at the waist. We offered him some willow as I happened to have some in my car that I had collected for Tigress and he couldn’t get enough of it. It will be interesting to see what his results show.
“My podiatrist came to see Tigress the other day and was really pleased with how well she is looking. This is the first winter for some time that her shape is good and her coat is in excellent condition.”