You may have heard of prebiotics before and it can commonly be seen used in the same sentence as probiotics. It is true to say that both are similar in terms of the fact they are both bacteria however they have slightly different functions within the horse’s system.
So what are the differences between Probiotics and Prebiotics? Probiotics are live bacteria that help to support the healthy bacteria environment by providing more of the good bacteria. Prebiotics, however, does not contain live bacteria and serves to feed the bacteria that already live in the horse’s hindgut. It works to support the existing levels of bacteria by stimulating growth/activity so the beneficial bacteria can remain healthy.
Prebiotics can be seen used much more these days in horse calming supplements. They predominantly work as a gut balancer which in turn helps to calm horses and relieve them from symptoms of stress and anxiety. Prebiotics are a supplement that assists with all-round health as well as issues related to the gut and digestive tract. Many owners choose to feed their horses prebiotics for its amazing calming effects and in general report good results.
It can be difficult to know what type of prebiotics to buy for your horse as a calmer and there are many different brands available on the market to buy. One of the most important things to consider is the type of ingredients used and here we will look at some of the very best sources of prebiotics that are safe for equine use.
Mannan-oligosaccharides otherwise known as ‘MOS’ is one of the most common types of prebiotics found in horse calming supplements. It is a non-digestible sugar and originates from yeast. MOS can be highly beneficial for horses since it helps to significantly reduce the number of bad bacteria that can accumulate in the gut. Two of the most harmful bad bacteria’s are salmonella and E Coli which can be extremely nasty for your horse.
MOS works to prevent the bad bacteria from attaching to the gut wall by acting as a sticky sponge. The bacteria will attach to the sponge rather than to the gut wall eliminating most of the bad bacteria. Effectively removing them from your horse’s digestive system is one of the only ways to ensure good gut health.
Fructooligosaccharides otherwise commonly known as ‘FOS’ is another prebiotic that you will regularly see used in horse calming supplements. It isn’t as widely used as MOS but works in a similar way. Its main feature is to eliminate the bad bacteria that often get stored in the gut.
FOS provides beneficial microbes into the horses gut. It is also a great source of energy (which is vital for most horses). The microbe’s primary function is to reproduce and increase their population. This provides for an environment where bad bacteria is less likely to thrive. In an ideal world, only the good bacteria would be present in your horse’s gut in order for them to stay happy and healthy.
Unmolassed sugar beet
Unmolassed sugar beet is probably a prebiotic that you have heard of before. Many owners choose to feed their horses sugar beet on a day to day basis. It is a fibrous ingredient that can have a highly beneficial impact on your horses gut and digestive system as a whole.
Sugar beet is a high in fibre root vegetable. The unmolassed variety is very low in both sugars and starch (at around only 5%). It is a slow-release energy ingredient which ensures your horse still has some get up and go whilst still keeping your horse cool, calm and collected without any of the unwanted fizz.
Many horse owners choose to feed this prebiotic as either a supplement or part of the main feed either using regular sugar beet or speedi beet.
Chicory is a highly palatable flowering herb that horses seem to love. It is becoming a popular ingredient used in equine digestion and gut balancers. Chicory is also known to have a significant calming effect on horses. The key benefit of feeding Chicory to your horse as a calming supplement is the amazing effects it has on anxiety and stress.
Chicory extract is high in inulin which helps promote digestive comfort. Imbalances of the gut can often lead to anxiety and bad behaviour so you see how this herb can be highly beneficial.
You will find that chicory is used in a wide range of supplements, not just those for calming horses. It is particularly helpful in promoting a healthy digestive system so can be found in many gut balancer supplements.
Soy Bean and Lupin Hulls
Soy Bean and Lupin Hulls are slow-release energy prebiotics that is considered a cool energy source. They can often be found in calming supplements and many regular horse feeds. They are great for boosting your horse’s energy levels without impacting on your horse’s behaviour. These can work particularly well for horses that suffer from a nervous disposition and those that suffer from anxiety and stress.
They also make great digestive balancers so can often be found in horse supplements that are used to promote a healthy gut and GI tract. Many believe that the two work hand in hand and that a healthy gut means and calm and happy horse.
Prebiotics as a calming supplement
Prebiotics are generally used to improve your horse’s digestive function. They ensure that bad bacteria is removed from the horse’s gut and new good bacteria is present in the system. Many believe that prebiotics can help with stress and anxiety in horses too. Therefore prebiotic ingredients can often be found in horse calming supplements or fed as a pure ingredient.
Research has suggested that a horse with a settled hindgut that contains mostly good bacteria is likely to reduce their stress levels and combat anxiety. Diet and supplements play a key part in your horse’s mental wellbeing. It is important that with these types of symptoms you look to a lack of diet and nutrients as the first port of call.
Prebiotics has shown great promise in eliminating the stress levels in equines. It can be particularly helpful for highly strung or hot horses that can be difficult to manage.