Nutrition Services - Frequently Asked Questions


Why should I work with ARK Nutrition?

Amanda is a highly trained Equine and Bovine Nutritionist, registered as a Professional Nutritionist with the Alberta Institute of Agrologists. She has over 15 years experience in her profession. She has earned a Bachelor of Science degree and a Master of Science degree in Animal Science and Nutrition with specialized training in nutritional biochemistry as well as rumen and hindgut microbiology from the University of Guelph and the University of Saskatchewan. When you work with ARK Nutrition, you are receiving information from a highly trained professional with a vast amount of knowledge about how your horse's metabolism and how best to optimize the nutrition to achieve superior health and performance from your horses.


How long does a nutrition assessment take?

One hour per horse or per group of horses (eg. breeder barns and racing barns where horses will be grouped according to age and/or performance).


What is the cost for a nutrition assessment, farm call out fee, a nutrition plan, and general nutrition services?

Nutrition Assessment is $80 plus GST. A comprehensive four page nutrition assessment report is emailed to you.

Farm call out fee is $60 plus GST for the Calgary area. Please contact office for a quote if you are outside of the Calgary area.

Nutrition Plan is $80 plus GST. The nutrition plan is emailed to you. It includes a feed chart with easy to use instructions for feeding and a nutrient profile below detailing the composition of your horse's ration.

Nutrition Services (consultations over the phone, speaking engagements, etc.) is $80 plus GST.


What is involved in a full nutrition assessment?

Physical measurements of your horse will be taken and entered into a report. We measure body condition, muscle and fat deposition, knee circumference, temperatures of the knee, hock, fetlocks and coronets, vital signs, weight, height, and hoof condition. Manure is screened to determine hindgut fermentation efficiency and manure pH is tested to determine the conditions in the hindgut. After all the data is entered, the comprehensive report is emailed to you. This data is also used in the formulation process.


Why are the microbes in the hindgut important?

The hindgut is the large intestine in the horse. A vast population of microbes are located in the hindgut.  In the horse, the majority of the feed is broken down in their hindgut. The microbes within the hindgut are primarily responsible for breaking down the forage, however there are microbes that also digest the grains and any other feeds in your horse's ration. They are responsible for releasing the nutrients from the feed, which are then available to be used by the horse. It is critical to ensure those microbes are provided with the correct balance of nutrients in order for the horse to receive essential nutrients that they require.


Why do you need to analyze my horse's manure?

A manure analysis provides scientific information regarding the efficiency of the hindgut microbes to ferment feed. Manure particulates are analyzed to determine how best to improve digestion by those microbes. The manure pH is taken to ensure the conditions within the hindgut are optimal for microbial fermentation.


Why do you take temperatures on their legs and coronet?

Temperatures are recorded at the knee, hock, fetlocks, and coronets.  These measurements are taken to determine if there are any varation in temperature which may have resulted from an injury, potential arthritis issues, structure of the hoof restricting blood flow, or if digestive upsets are inducing an inflammatory response in the body. We document these changes in the nutrition report to ensure we address these changes in the nutrition plan.


Why do you take pictures of my horse at every visit?

We use the pictures to track your horse's muscle development, fat deposits, coat condition, hoof condition, etc., from one assessment to the next. These pictures are a benchmark of where your horse is today and helps us set goals for future progress and development.


What is a hindgut episode and how can you see it on my horse's hooves?

A hindgut episode is any time the horse has a significant drop in the pH within the hindgut. Significant drops in pH can result in specific microbial populations dying and releasing endotoxins into the body. The endotoxins result in an inflammatory response, this inflammation typically results in horizontal rings along the hoof wall or as we call them hindgut episodes. Amanda analyzes how frequent the lines occur and how predominant the lines are along the hoof wall. This data is a key component towards building a successful nutrition plan.


Why is it important to look at my horse's gums?

We check the colour, refill time, and moisture of the gums.  Typically a healthy horse will have pink gums, that are moist, and have a quick refill time.  If we see that a horse is not meeting those benchmarks, we document that information and ask the owner to check the gums to determine if this is normal characteristic for that horse or if they notice changes to have their Veterinarian examine the horse. These parameters are again used in determining the best plan of action for the nutrition program.


How do you check for dehydration and what can I do about it?

During each assessment we check to see how well is your horse hydrated. We pull back on some loose skin along the neck and then we watch to see how fast it returns to normal. In addition, we observe the general condition of the skin and the eyes which give us an indication as to whether the horse is experiencing a hydration issue. If the skin is tenting and/or if the eyes appear sunken in, then we need to focus our attention on why is the horse is experiencing these hydration issues. In these situations, we will ask the owner to monitor how much the horse is drinking, and to test the water if the water has not already been tested. Once we have ruled out water intake and water quality, then depending on the level of dehydration, we will often add more salt, or an electrolyte to encourage water intake.  If the dehydration is severe, we request a Veterinarian examine the horse.


Why should a blood analysis be completed?

We work close with your Veterinarian to ensure that any health concerns are taken into consideration when a nutrition plan is being formulated. Aside from health concerns, a blood analysis provides a base line for the present health status of your horse.  Amanda also looks at the blood work from a nutrition point of view and determines if there are any anomalies and then she takes that into considerationg when formulating the nutrition plan.


Why does it take 8 weeks for the nutrition plan to take full effect?

It takes approximately 8 weeks for the microbes in the hindgut to adjust to changes in the horse's nutrition. It is during this time frame that we start to see the horse's metabolism become more efficient at using those nutrients.