Glossary

Amino acids
The “building blocks” that form proteins. There are 21 different amino acids in total; the order in which they occur in a protein provides its specific characteristics. There are 9 essential amino acids that need to be provided by the diet.

Antioxidants
An antioxidant is a molecule that inhibits the oxidation of other molecules. Oxidation is a chemical reaction that can produce free radicals, leading to chain reactions that may damage cells. 

Ash
Ash is a required declaration on feed labels and refers to the total mineral content of the feed.

Biotin
A b-vitamin that is synthesised by the bacteria present in the hindgut. Supplementing with extra biotin has been proven to improve hoof quality.

Body Condition Scoring
A method of assessing a horse or pony's level of fat covering across several areas of the body using a numerical grading system. Depending on the scale used, the horse/ pony is given a body condition score (BCS) of between 0 and 5 or 1 and 9.

Calcium
A macro mineral which plays a key role supporting bone health. The ratio of calcium: phosphorus in the diet should be maintained at 1.5-2:1.

Colic
In the simplest sense, colic refers to abdominal pain. Colic can be classified as one of the following types: impaction, gaseous, spasmodic or sand colic.

Copper
Copper is an important trace element and plays a role in bone formation, haemoglobin, production and coat colour.

Cushing's syndrome or PPID 
An endocrine disorder affecting the pituitary gland also known as Pituitary Pars Intermedia Dysfunction or 'PPID'. PPID causes the horse's pituitary gland, which utilises hormones to control body functions, to work overtime.

Dehydration
Dehydration happens when the body doesn't have as much water as it needs resulting in a decline in athletic performance and in extreme cases can be life-threatening.

Electrolytes
Mineral salts (sodium, potassium, magnesium and chloride) present in the body's fluids. Responsible for conducting electrical impulses for muscle contraction, internal water balance and sketetal tissue integrity. 

Equine rhabdomyolysis syndrome (ERS)
Also known as tying up / azotoria / Monday morning disease - a muscular disorder that can cause varying degrees of muscle stiffness; factors thought to contribute to its occurrence include stress, high starch diets, exercising beyond fitness level and overfeeding of cereal on rest days.

Fatty Acids
Fatty Acids are the building blocks of fat. During digestion, the body breaks down fats into fatty acids, which can then be absorbed into the blood. Fatty acid molecules are usually joined together in groups of three, forming a molecule called triglyceride. 

Fructans
Fructans are the storage form of sugar (energy) found in grasses, it is thought that rapid fermentation of fructans in the hindgut may contribute to laminitis. 

Gastric ulcers
Ulcers are lesions often formed in the non-glandular squamous mucosa and are associated with repeated direct insult from gastric fluid normally found in the glandular region of the stomach.

Gastric acid
A gastric secretion which acidifies the stomach contents.

Gastric emptying
A term used to describe the mechanism and speed of the release of food from the stomach into the first part of the small intestine.

Hay
Grass that has been cut, dried (in the field) and baled. 

Haylage
Grass that has been cut, dried to approximately 25-45% moisture, baled and then shrink wrapped in plastic.

Heating
Describes a feed that may cause an increase in excitability, usually due to a relatively high cereal content. Opposite to this is non-heating feed which is less likely to cause an increase in excitable behaviour when fed at the recommended rate.

Hindgut (Large intestine)
The portion of the digestive tract that includes the caecum and the colon; comprises approx. 65% of the digestive capacity of the horse’s gut and is the main site of microbial fermentation of fibre.

Insulin resistance
Another name for antibodies. Different types of immunoglobulins are identified by letters e.g. IgA, IgE, IgG.

Immune system
The immune system is a host defence system comprising many biological structures and processes within an organism that protects against disease. 

Immunoglobulins 
Another name for antibodies. Different types of immunoglobulins are identified by letters e.g. IgA, IgE, IgG.

Insulinaemic response
The increase in insulin seen following a meal in response to rise in blood glucose and amino acids.

Laminitis
Laminitis is inflammation of the laminae resulting in pain and lameness. Laminitis is a condition rather than a disease, resulting from a complex cascade of metabolic events.

Lysine
Lysine is the 'first limiting' amino acid which mean the extent to which other amino acids can be utilised is dependent on lysine intake.

Lucerne (also known as alfalfa)
A legume related to the pea family. Alfalfa is an excellent source of fibre that is naturally high in protein and calcium.

Micronutrient
Nutrients that are essential to the health and wellbeing of the horse but are only required in very small amount e.g. vitamins, minerals, trace elements

Osteochondrosis
Commonly considered to result from a failure of bone formation, leading to retention of cartilage in the bones of growing horses.

 

Osteochondritis dissecans
Commonly considered to be a manifestation of osteochondrosis; involves a lesion on the surface of a joint associated with the formation of a cartilage or cartilage and bone flap.

Selenium
A micro-mineral or 'trace element' which works within the body's antioxidant defense system. Selenium is required in very small amounts in the diet and can be toxic if fed at high levels.

Soya bean meal
Soya bean meal is a raw material that is naturally high in protein and amino acids.

Soya hulls
A by-product from the de-hulling of soya beans. Soya hulls are an excellent source of high digestible fibre.

Starch
Non-structural carbohydrate digested in small intestine by digestive enzymes and broken down to glucose. Essentially, the white part of cereals when the outer husk or bran is removed.

Synchronous diaphragmatic flutter
This occurs when an imbalance of electrolytes affects the nerve that controls the diaphragm, causing the diaphragm to contract in time with the heart, leading to a “hiccup-like” effect. This condition is most common in endurance horses.

Threonine
An amino acid thought to be the second limiting amino acid for growing horses.

Thiamine (vitamin B1)
Thiamine is synthesised by hindgut microbes, it's a water soluble vitamin essential for energy metabolism.

Vitamin A (retinol) 
A fat soluble vitamin essential for immunity, cell differetiation and maintenance of the respiratory and digestive system, as well as hoof quality, growth, reproduction and vision. 

Vitamin C
Vitamin C is systhesised from glucose in the liver and consequently healthy horses often do not require additional vitamin C in their diet, however, supplementary vitamin C may be helpful for those under stress, in heavy exercise or during illness.

Vitamin D
A fat soluble vitamin involved in calcium and phosphorous metabolism thus making it important for healthy bones and teeth.

Vitamin E
Vitamin E is fat soluble and considered to be the most important antioxidant and works alongside vitamin C and selenium.

Volatile Fatty Acids (VFAa)
End product of the microbial fermentation of fibre they provide a source of energy

Water Soluble Carbohydrate (WSC)
Carbohydrates that are soluble in water and typically include sugars and fructans.

Wheatfeed
A co-product of wheat milling often used as a source of slowly fermentable fibre in compound feed.

Yeast
Live yeast is used as a probiotic to help support 'good' bacteria within the hindgut.

Zinc
A trace element which is important for bone, immune, skin and hoof health.