Probiotics and Prebiotics are a hot topic these days, for both human and equine digestive health care. A probiotic is a supplement containing live bacteria or yeasts (flora) that are normally present in the gastrointestinal tract. A prebiotic is a type of fiber that nourishes the flora already present in the gastrointestinal tract. When our sponsor, Nutramax Laboratories, brought some samples of their product, Proviable-EQ, we agreed to give it a trial run. According to Nutramax, Proviable-EQ is a “probiotic plus prebiotic product designed to reestablish and maintain intestinal health naturally.” It “can be used continuously or as needed to maintain hindgut health during times of stress or digestive upset” and “to encourage normal gastrointestinal function and health.”
Our expectations were low, supplements were not something we fed regularly as they were often ineffective and unnecessary with a balanced feed program. We had clients who had used other probiotic products at great expense without any visible benefits. However, at that time, Matt’s exhibition horse, Coral, appeared to be a good candidate to really test this product as he had several symptoms indicating digestive upset. He cribbed incessantly, and had frequent bouts with colic. As he got older, it became more and more difficult to keep him at a good weight. We started Coral on the Proviable-EQ powder and within a couple of weeks, there were obvious signs of improvement. He was cribbing much less and the frequency of colic dramatically decreased. He gradually gained weight and his energy improved. We kept Coral on a maintenance dose of Proviable-EQ until he passed away at the ripe old age of 29.
Based on our experience with Coral, we started recommending Proviable-EQ to our clients who have had equal success using the product. One horse came to us with a rough coat, weight issues and a box full of ulcergard. Another stallion also had ulcers, was under weight and had a supplement and grain regime requiring an instruction manual to understand. A different client’s horse had ulcers and would colic anytime the weather or hay changed, or if there was a new situation, like a horse show. All of these horses responded to a maintenance dose of Proviable-EQ powder with amazing results leading to much happier and healthier lives.
Proviable-EQ also comes in the form of a paste. This is a very convenient way to dose a horse on an as needed basis. We found the paste to be especially helpful when a horse is off his feed. Whether due to nerves from being at a show, on the trailer or in a new situation, or from frustration that the hay has changed to a different flavor, dosing with the paste ensures the horse ingests the product so their mental upset does not lead to a digestive one.