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Stress relief

Gastrotech provides calming effect for ‘those’ horses
Story by Glen Liford Photos by Hannah Lewis and Glen Liford 9/29/2020

 

From left, Terry Givens, Dwight Brooks, and Brandon Givens were among a handful of horse owners who were provided with advanced samples of Pinnacle Gastrotech feed supplement to try at their Summer Hill Farms in Rogersville. The supplement, which is now available at local Farmers Co-ops, is formulated to improve equine gastrointestinal health.
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Brandon Givens says there is always that one horse. 


You know the one — high strung, nervous, and overly excitable in nearly every situation, but even more so at show times.


Brandon has dealt with these types of animals during his seven years as a professional Tennessee Walking Horse trainer with numerous accolades under his belt. He now serves as a trainer for Dwight Brooks at Summer Hill Farms in Rogersville where he works with his dad, Terry, who is also a trainer. The horsemen have customers throughout Tennessee and a good part of the Southeast who seek out their expertise and industry knowledge. 


For the past few months, Brandon and Terry have been trying out the new PinnacleTM

Gastrotech® feed additive just released by Tennessee Farmers Cooperative for sale in September. The Hawkins Farmers Cooperative customers were among a handful of horse owners to receive trial bags of the new product before it became available in Co-op stores.


“We were pleased to get the opportunity to try Gastrotech,” says Brandon.


Gastrotech was developed by Cooperative Research Farms, the interregional feed research organization owned by Tennessee Farmers Cooperative and other leading feed manufacturers and cooperatives. It comes in a highly palatable, pelleted form to be mixed with existing feed and was formulated to improve digestive function in equine. It comes packaged in convenient 25-lb. bags.


“Aggressive behavior is sometimes a symptom of gastric ulcers,” says Grey Parks, TFC equine specialist. “Researchers estimate 25 percent of foals and 60 to 90 percent of adult horses suffer from gastric ulcers. They’re very stoic and don’t show pain, so you might not know they have a problem.”


Horses are prone to these ulcers because of the way their stomach works, she explains. Acid is secreted in the bottom part of a horse’s stomach. That part of the stomach secretes mucus that protects it from the acid, while the upper half doesn’t have this lining. When acid splashes on the upper half of the stomach, ulcers develop. Gastrotech is a patented blend of ingredients that help keep the pH of the stomach closer to a neutral level.


Brandon began feeding Gastrotech in July and provided the supplement to Dwight’s show animals as the horsemen prepared the animals for the 2020 Tennessee Walking Horse Celebration held Aug. 26 through Sept. 5 in Shelbyville, Tenn. 


The results, they say, were simply amazing. 


“At the shows, all the horses are out of their element,” says Brandon. “Many of them don’t eat, they fret, and they’re just generally nervous. But this year, it seemed like they were all much calmer and acted like they were right at home.”


Among the animals taken to the show was a particularly nervous horse, Terry says, that had been a challenge to keep calm. But his behavior at the Celebration was noteworthy.


“I’ve always been skeptical of vitamins, supplements, and all that, but in this case, there was no denying the improvement,” says Terry, who has 30 years of experience as a trainer. “That one problem horse stayed ‘chilled out.’ All the animals we showed were better, but there was the most improvement in him.”


Feed consumption by the show herd was down, too, adds Brandon. The trainers took a similar number of horses to the show last year, and fed around a ton of feed. This year, they only fed around 1,250 pounds. Hay consumption decreased, too. 


“The reduced consumption should more than pay for the additional cost for the Gastrotech,” he says.


The horses are looking good, too, and Brandon believes the supplement is adding to the slick sheen that the animals seem to feature consistently throughout the group.


“We’re only feeding this to our show herd now, but I think all horses should be on it,” says Dwight Brooks, a director of Hawkins Farmers Cooperative. 


Brandon is not the only one reporting this type of improvement, says Grey.


Becky Huddleston is another horse enthusiast and trainer who tried the product at her stable in Baxter this past summer. Becky trades with Ag1 in Cookeville and Smith Farmers Cooperative in Smithville. She has 34 horses in her stable, where she offers boarding and training services, along with riding lessons. Owners are free to choose their own feeds for their horses, but if they don’t have a preference, Becky chooses a ration that she believes will work best. The horses are a mix of performance, show, and pleasure animals.


“We have tried a lot of different feeds, additives, and other products to reduce our horses’ stress and improve their digestive health,” says Becky. “But I have never seen quite as drastic of a change — and as quickly — as with this product.”


One of the horses being fed Gastrotech had “no socialization skills” at all, she says. He was reasonably obedient, but irritable and would often turn aggressive.  Becky noticed a change in the horse within a week of being on the supplement. 


“He was much quieter coming out of the stall and a lot more pleasant,” she says. 


Another older horse was prone to colic and also easy to stress, she says. After a short time on Gastrotech, Becky says the animal “settled down” and showed an improved attitude.


“I’ve been very impressed with Gastrotech and I’ll be ordering lots of it,” she says. 


For more information on Gastrotech, contact TFC Equine Speciliast Grey Parks at gparks@ourcoop.com, or visit your local Co-op.


 
 
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