By Rebecca Chandler
I believe the old adage “A picture is worth a thousand words” best describes the transformation my eighteen year old Prix St. George Hanoverian gelding named Windy has made on the whole foods diet. I imported Windy from Germany as a five year old and over the years he has struggled with his weight; fluctuating between being a hard and easy keeper. More worryingly, he has experienced recurrent bouts of gas colic, undergoing surgery as a six year old for a nephrosplenic entrapment.
I sought the advice of Tigger Montague and BioStar after Windy suffered an especially bad colic episode on Christmas day in 2009, which resulted in him being hospitalized for four days.
When he returned to the barn he was worn out, thin and I was anxious about the likelihood of him having another colic episode. I explained Windy’s issues and his propensity towards colic and Tigger suggested we amend Windy’s diet with the Optimum cookies and the Tract Bios . Windy seemed to improve and loved eating his cookies and having his probiotic fed in a banana.
About a year ago, Windy suffered four minor gas colics in five months. He had become very thin and was unable to add or maintain weight and was eating eight flakes of grass hay a day in the hope that he would gain weight. I had Windy examined by my vet, who advised me to treat him for ulcers with omeprazole. To gain weight, the vet felt I should add a senior grain, which I was not comfortable with.
Once again I contacted Tigger with Windy’s health problems and detailed his whole diet this time. Tigger advised me to cut Windy’s hay in half and dump his daily joint and gut supplements which might be aggravating his condition. I also augmented his diet with soaked alfalfa cubes to supply soothing calcium for his guts and to help add weight. Windy had completed a round of BioStar’s Colostrum-38 earlier in the summer, but Tigger recommended adding the Colostrum back into Windy’s diet to help boost his immune system and aid in his recovery.
During my email correspondence with Tigger, I learned she was planning a visit to California to speak at the local California Dressage Society chapter about the whole food diet. Listening to Tigger’s comprehensive talk, I began to understand how the whole food diet could change Windy’s life. At the engagement, I also had the privilege of meeting Gundi Younger, who arranged for Tigger to speak to the chapter, and is now my local BioStar consultant. Gundi inspired me to make Windy a daily fruit and vegetable salad, which she does for her horses, explaining how good it is for them and how they can get the nutrients they need from whole food sources. I found her Bay Area BioStar page very helpful in the preparation of Windy’s salads, and one of my favorite parts of the website is the composition of fruits and vegetables and how they can improve the horse’s diet.
I was very fortunate that Tigger and Gundi were able to assess Windy during a consult visit after the meeting. During the evaluation, it was concluded that although Windy was technically eating enough, he was not eating correctly and therefore was not able to maintain a healthy weight. Tigger advised me to add coconut oil and copra meal to give him added energy, a digestive enzyme because his were likely not working properly, Colostrum-38 to aid his immune system, alfalfa hay for extra calcium and to increase weight, and a slow feeding hay bag since he does not have access to pasture or grazing, to Windy’s multivitamin, alfalfa cubes and raw flax oil. I also tried BioStar’s Rebound to further assist in his recovery and to help increase the microbe count in his digestive system. I took the “before” picture soon after Tigger’s visit to document his change on the whole food diet.
Windy has been on the whole food diet for nearly eleven months now. Besides the suggestions Tigger made, Windy eats a large daily salad consisting of kale, cabbage, carrots, almonds, blueberries, an apple, orange, and a banana, plus whatever else I have around to add. In addition to the digestive ease of the diet, and that Windy is getting what he needs from food, aspects like Windy being able to manufacture his own glucosamine with the simple addition of kale and cabbage, and that his energy is improved with the copra augmentation are extremely appealing. In fact, Windy was significantly less stiff warming up this past winter and is not indicating any need for hock injections. I now keep Rebound on hand to help Windy recover after hard work or if he is under stress, like when we have drastic changes in weather.
The metamorphosis I have seen in his physical appearance and attitude has been nothing less than impressive. Physically, he has gained weight and muscle, his topline is more developed, his coat is shiny and the farrier has commented that his hooves are stronger and harder. Most importantly, he has had no further episodes of colic. Under saddle, he is more willing, forward, calmer, and overall seems more confident and happy to go to work.
I saw Tigger recently and I took the second picture of Windy to show her the “after” effects of eleven months on the whole foods diet. Because I see Windy daily, I had not realized the magnitude of improvement that had occurred, and I felt exuberant by the changes to his physique. While there is still room for improvement, I believe the whole food diet will be a major factor in keeping Windy happy and healthy. My only regret is that I did not know about it or meet Tigger sooner!