Barbara Noble

Barbara Noble

KAREN GRIFFITHS’ PENINSULA HORSEPLAY: Supplements can help horses with issues

OK, I’VE GOT issues — lots of issues —but that’s another story. My horse, Indy, may have an issue with shivers, an equine neuromuscular syndrome, and my pony, Snow, struggles with laminitis.

Enter Barbara Noble in my life. She read in my Jan. 29 column that Indy showed signs of shivers.

She responded by sending me a lovely email that included suggestions on supplemental feeds.

She wrote of her background — she started researching after a problem with one of her mares, which led to her taking classes by international equine nutrition expert Eleanor Kellon, DVM — and suggested sources for my own research and supplements that might help.

She says the best way to add trace minerals to the diet is with hoof supplements, such as Integri-Hoof by Kauffman’s, along with High Point from HorseTech and adding 1 gram of acetyl-L-carnitine per 100 pounds of body weight. Acetyl-L-carnitine, also called ALCAR, is a combo of amino acids.

I include a bit of safflower, flax or corn oil to his diet, too, mostly because he tends to have dry skin.

She says trace minerals are vital and are only needed in small amounts, thus the descriptor “trace.”

Because hay around here has virtually no copper or zinc and can be outrageously high in iron and manganese, be careful not to use a supplement that increases iron and manganese unless a hay analysis tells you they are deficient.

Adding to the diet difficulty is that although a horse may be fed “enough” of the minerals, if the ratios are incorrect, they cannot be utilized metabolically.

I know adding supplements isn’t a cure, but I think it has helped. While Indy’s not a high-strung or nervous horse, I did notice he seemed a bit calmer or more at ease within a few days, a trend that’s continued.

Barbara’s more important take-home message was the importance of getting my hay analyzed and learning how to read that analysis, adding, “If your horse isn’t moving right or isn’t healthy, you need that information in order to balance their health.

“No one knows what’s in their hay until they test it. You can’t judge hay’s sugar or mineral content by color. Hay that looks old and brown might still have a high sugar content and not good for a limonitic horse,” she says.

An example of an out-of-balance diet is “if you have a dark brown horse that’s supposed to have a dark brown mane and tail, but is out in the pasture and seems to have a red mane and tail, then you can be pretty sure that horse is mineral-deficient,” Barbara says.

“If you feed that horse copper and zinc, you’ll see the red return to brown — proof is in the pudding.”

She emphasizes the need to know these basic facts to help your horse nutritionally: what your horse weighs, its age, what’s in its hay and what your horse nutritionally needs, which is determined by your horse’s weight, activity and any issues, such as shivers, equine polysaccharide storage myopathy or laminitis.

When gathering samples of hay, she says, “Don’t just grab a wad of hay and then send it off to be tested. You want to test 10 to 15 bales from its core, or center.”

She bought a special coring tool. Apparently, she first tried using the tool with her husband’s cordless drill and burned a “few motors out in the process,” with which her husband wasn’t pleased. He then bought her a more powerful, corded drill.

I think I got off easy about getting the bulk of my hay analyzed because I get it from Jerry Schmidt at Freedom Farm in Agnew.

Its hay was analyzed by Equi-Analytical (, and the PDF can be downloaded from Freedom Farm’s website.

If you buy hay from Jerry, you can send this analysis to the folks at California Trace ( and ask about proper supplementation for your horse.

Barbara has also started writing nutritional information for Freedom Farm’s monthly newsletter. That, too, is available on the farm’s website at

Show notice

Dana King, owner of Baker Stables Schooling, has sent out a notice about the Nov. 16 show. If anyone wrote her a check at the Nov. 16 show, she mistakenly burned the checks while starting a fire in the stove.

The checks were in an envelope that fell in the stack of fire-starting papers, so please send her another check ASAP at 164 Four Winds Road, Port Angeles, WA 98362.

The next schooling show is Feb. 15.


■   Monday, 6:30 p.m., Miller Peninsula interim trail plan public meeting — State Parks and Recreation Commission, Guy Cole Convention Center, 202 N. Blake Ave., Sequim.

The meeting will gather public comment to be considered in making recommendations to the agency director on a final interim trail plan.

The meeting will include a presentation of the plan and discussion of projects and future planning efforts.


Karen Griffiths’ column, Peninsula Horseplay, appears every other Sunday.

If you have a horse event, clinic or seminar you would like listed, please email Griffiths at at least two weeks in advance. You can also write Griffiths at PDN, P.O. Box 1330, Port Angeles, WA 98362.

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