Chronic SEASONAL Loose Stools - NOTHING is WORKING!

Hopefully someone can point me in the right direction because my 24.5 TB gelding is my soulmate and it is killing me to not be able to solve this (going on year #5). This year, I thought I FINALLY had it solved but BOOM: like clockwork, the problem is back:

NO EXAGGERATION, for the 5th straight year, (ALWAYS in the Fall, around Oct/Nov), my gelding with literally go from TOTALLY NORMAL to loose stools within a 12 hour period (NOT diarrhea but similar to what others have described where a small amount of liquid comes out while pooping as well as in between)… small amount of liquid but MASSIVE amount of soiling.

ALSO LIKE CLOCKWORK, around Mar/April, the problem will resolve overnight.

For the first several years, I assumed it was the hay because the problem would ALWAYS start (and similarly ALWAYS resolve) following a new batch of hay. Bad / tainted hay is unlikely though because I have 2 horses and my other horse has NEVER had issues. Also, I’ve tried buying hay from like 7 different places, I’ve tried 5 different types of hay, and NONE of that makes a difference. Going in to the 5th year, someone had suggested to me to STOCK UP on hay from Spring / Summer when my gelding is normal (with the hypothesis that it was the richness of the CUT of hay that was causing the problem VS say type of hay or particular hay vendor)… so this year, I did just that. My gelding was FINE for a month and then in early September (WITHIN 12 hours of being sedated for routine care), it started. This has me very concerned because it points to a far deeper imbalance that is obviously triggered by small things (like a new batch of hay (prior years) or in this case undergoing a SINGLE dose of routine sedation) VS if it were strictly isolated to the Fall/Winter cuts of hay (where I could simply solve it by stocking up on hay from Spring/Summer).

Bloodwork is normal and parasites have been ruled out. I’ve had 2 locals vets tell me, ‘awww, it’s nothing, he’s just got the winter squirts; a lot of horses have that.’ And a 3rd vet recommended Probios which did absolutely nothing.

I also had VERY HIGH hopes in For Love of the Horse, as their products CURED my horse of uveitis, (after the vet had given up and was talking surgery!!!). But for this issue, it’s SOL (literally and figuratively).

Right now, I’ve got my gelding on some BioStar products (TOP, TOP quality!) and their GI formula got excellent reviews in other cases where ‘all else failed’ but I’m at about the 2 week mark and (while still PRAYING it’s just going to take time), there has been zero improvement to date.

The year the problem started was my geldings FIRST year at my new property (about an hour away from where I lived previously) and similar altitude / similar vegetation); but someone did suggest that it could be allergies since I live in an area in the Southwest something is always blooming/growing, 12 months/year).

I have my horses at my home so contact with other horses can be ruled out, as can stress from travel. They are retired and living the dream life. But my poor gelding really suffers for many months each year and I want desperately to get him well. Thank you!

I have a 22 y/o gelding who has had this same problem for probably 5 years. This year it progressed to diarrhea and FFW even in the summer, although it was definitely not as bad as in the winter. Right now (knock wood) we seem to have conquered the problem. Here is what I did:

  1. I gave him a Panacur Power Pack
  2. I put him on psyllium with probiotics for one week out of every month (HorseTech’s Sand Trap)
  3. I changed his hay (yet again). This was the biggest piece of the puzzle, I believe, although the other two things definitely started things moving in the right direction. This horse does best with fine, soft Orchard hay. Timothy hay or any stalky hay definitely makes him worse. I will say that he was on Orchard hay with little improvement in the past, and I don’t know why THIS Orchard hay seems to be so much better for him. This current hay is cleaner and smells more fresh and I believe it is better quality.

Although I believe the hay choice is the biggest factor, I do think all three of these things have contributed to my horse’s improvement. He is currently having totally normal poops for the first time in literally 5 years. And it’s November and the grass is done for the year. Traditionally he starts to worsen in late September/early October.

Good luck to you in figuring this out. It is really frustrating to deal with and I’m sure it’s no picnic for the horse either. Currently my horse looks the best he’s looked in years - like he’s aging backwards. No one would ever suspect that he is 22 by looking at him. While he was having digestive issues he didn’t look awful but he sure didn’t look as good as he does now. His topline and hind end have filled back out even though he is pretty much retired at this point.

It likely IS the hay - because it’s hay, not the quality or type.

A simple thing to try since it has resolved some FFWS horses, is psyllium. It’s been shown that longer-term use improves hind gut bacteria, and has resolved FFWS in several horses. It’s not about ADDING biotics, it’s about supporting/improving what’s there, in this case.

There are several FFWS threads here, so you might scour (no pun intended!) those to see what others have found works for their horse. This is a really good thread to look at

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I’ve had similar experiences over the past 8+ years with my now coming 26 yr old gelding. My money is your issue is due to hay, as that is what I found was the problem for my gelding. It was usually as soon as the pasture had dried up for winter and he was fully on hay for his forage. At 24 he colicked with resulted in him having surgery and they removed three fecaliths - and after that I put him on chopped hay and beet pulp as a supplement to his regular hay ration. After this switch the squirts became far less often and I could track it to a batch of hay that was particularly course and stemmy. The hay we’ve had this past year has been lovely and soft and he hasn’t had any episodes, although in the winter I do increase the ratio of chopped hay to regular hay, but at now $21/bag (up from $12/bag two years ago) I have hay cubes as a backup.

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My 19 year old has been sharting for the last 10 years. He hates it, and I cannot seem to get a grip on it. Meanwhile we’ve changed from being on our home farm, to boarding out at 2 different facilities full time, he continues to shart. I am at a loss. Will be following this thread. He has been on so many different brand probiotics, now I’m trying Mad Barns digestive stuff.

The barn recently is complaining how much his stool stinks in the morning. Poor Guy.

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Man, count me in to the people who have had to deal with this. Only soft grass hay would fix it and even then it was still “soft,” but no water. When the quality of pasture and aging hay went down in the fall he would get all gross again, just in time for it to get cold and we couldn’t bathe him. I think the forage is key.

I posted in the thread mentioned above, but in case you don’t want to wade through all of it, what worked for my mare was pure psyllium powder (the granules/pellets options didn’t work). Add it in to AM and PM meals. Play around with the amount - start with a lot to get it under control then taper it down.

I am one of the ones where it eventually eradicated the issue completely. I do notice, now that she’s off grass and on hay 100% of the time again, that her manure is getting a touch softer, but still no free fecal water.

This doesn’t work for everyone, though.

Everyone, thank you so much for your replies! Pico, the thread was very helpful, so THANK YOU (normally I am great at doing a search but in this day of over-automation / inundation of features, it is so much more complicated, IMO, and easy to miss things. :grimacing:

Normally, I like to get thru something from start to finish, but I need to get to work (and also wanted SOME HOPE to get me through the day), so I STARTED just jotting down names of products (nutraceuticals-based) from that thread you linked me to and I’ll post that later today.

In the meantime, I will give a special shout out to HorseTech as I just got off the phone with them after reading about WaterWerks (on the thread Pico linked to) and how that product was developed to help with the massive demand of MANY struggling with this issue. The icing on the cake is: they give out two week FREE samples (and don’t even make the customer pay shipping for the samples); I told them if this WORKS, I would be more than happy to pay for the shipping and cost of product for those samples!!! The probiotic and herbal route haven’t done much for my gelding (NOT to say I’m writing off either) but the WaterWerks has some different ingredient in it and given the success rate AND the FREE 2-week samples, I felt it was definitely worth a try.

Finally, while some SWEAR it is the cut of hay or type of hay, my bubble was really burst in this regard because this year, my horse was TOTALLY NORMAL for ~1 full month on the batch of hay I was giving him… and then BOOM the problem came back (with this year’s trigger obviously being the MILD/NORMAL dose sedation he was under to get his teeth floated because that is the ONLY THING that was different in the 12 hour period went it started). So (in his case), as I’ve said before, it IS seasonal but there is also always a TRIGGER associated with in (in prior years, the trigger being a new hay delivery and this year the sedative bringing it on). I WISH the hay were at the ROOT of the problem because that is an easy fix; but in my case it definitely does not seem to be the case and instead is a mere contributing factor / trigger of something more underlying.

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If the trigger is coming off grass I would try upping his Vitamin E intake. And also the psyllium.

If it might be no matter the feed seasonal I would try keeping him under lights and seeing if that helps.

If it might be seasonal allergies - can you try an antihistamine?

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Zyrtec worked for my horse. I am convinced she’s allergic to something in the hay.

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I reached out to my vet yesterday, there is a recent rise in Free Fecal Water Syndrome. Not much education behind it at this time, but common in older horses.

https://www.mwvets.com/copy-of-equine-preventative-health#:~:text=Milverton-Wellesley%20Veterinary%20Services&text=Free%20Fecal%20Water%20syndrome%20(FFW,health%20concerns%20associated%20with%20FFW.

Rise, or awareness?

I’m not sure I’d say it’s “common in older horses”. It may be though that of the horses who have it, it’s more common in the older ones. There’s a big difference between the 2.

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awareness

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My 25 year old mare does the same thing, like clockwork. Vet prescribes a Panacur Powerpak, followed by an Ivermectin, less hay. She stays on Succeed which also helps. Good luck!

We have several horses at our barn with the same issue. And two friends in the local area have the same issue. It always happens once the grass has died out for the winter and hay is beginning to be thrown out to supplement the pasture grass. Different types of grass hay don’t seem to make a difference. Not all of the horses are of “senior” age. What has resolved it for all of them was to switch them from grass hay to alfalfa hay (chopped or baled). It’s not really known what in the grass hay is different now from years ago but it makes me think perhaps the way it’s fertilized or grown has changed over the years and some horses are more sensitive to it then others. It’s a nasty thing to deal with in the winter. I wish veterinary science would look into it more because the problem seems to be growing.

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I’ve seen Metronidazole prescribed for some horses who get loose stool like this with pretty good results. It might be something to ask your vet about.

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I got my gelding as a three year old and he had starting the summer I got him.

Do you have snow where you live? Could your horse be nibbling green-ish things is turnout that he normally wouldn’t touch?

One of mine eats something that makes his cheeks and throatlatch swell up every fall when the grass dies out.

Did you try good old wheat bran - more fiber - works like magic - REALLY !

I have a now 20 yr old who started having this trouble maybe 5 years ago - often started in November,
but sometimes in June. When the first event dragged on, I had vet check him out, and got a prescription for Metronidazole. It was a long, tapering course, but worked like a charm, after only a few days. More recently the vet recommended a shorter course and it worked just fine. What we also discovered was that he, for some unknown reason, developed digestive issue with alfalfa. That sets it off again. In the last 18 months he has had only straight timothy and no problems.
I would recommend the meds for any stubborn case.