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Ideas/supplements for horse with constant fecal water

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    Ideas/supplements for horse with constant fecal water

    I have a 4 year old warmblood gelding with fecal water syndrome, that I am looking for some suggestions for. I bought him last winter and didn’t notice this when trying him or at pre-purchase exam. Could have been washed up or not there. Pre-purchase vet didn’t mention anything. Got him home and he had this, but chalked it up to new home/long trailer ride stress, etc..

    His poop is very much a fecal water issue. He has normal poop with excess water. He will occasionally have soft poops when stressed, but pretty infrequent.
    Vet has examined him and noted he had slight increased gut motility on one side. Nothing alarming though. Ran blood and his protein and organ enzymes were normal. His immune cells were within normal, but with 40% neutrophils and 60% lymphocytes (which is apparently the opposite of usual but within normal). Did a fecal, which had some fecal egg count, so he was dewormed. This was attributed to potential immune cells. Everything on this end seems normal now, and has been for several months.

    Gelding tends toward being anxious, but seems to internalize a bit. Low in the pecking order. He is a bit girthy and does not love being brushed on hind end. He gets turnout from 7:30-2:30 most days. We are boarded so I can’t control hay type.

    What we had tried:
    -Psyllium 1 cup – this has helped the most. It keeps the fecal water ALMOST gone, but never completely and it gets worse if his routine is change
    -Changed his grain to low allergen food. He now eats hay cubes, top dress grain and his regular supplements including flax oil. Regular hay inside, pasture outside in summer.
    -pre and probiotics. Various types, don’t seem to change anything but still on this.
    -Rice bran, didn’t change anything
    -Bio-sponge, didn’t change
    -A different clay base supplement, didn’t change anything
    -Succeed, currently on week 3 and it doesn’t seem to be helping

    I asked the vet about ulcers and she doesn’t feel this is the issue, so suggested not treating for that. He gets chiro and PEMF, nothing major mentioned there.


    UPDATE post #50 regarding omperazole
    Last edited by HunterDuSc; Oct. 15, 2020, 11:33 AM.

    Girthy and not wanting the hind end brushed were definitely ulcer (stomach and hind gut, respectively) symptoms for 2 of my horses. If it's hind gut ulcers, the Succeed he is currently on should help, but obviously it won't address any stomach ulcers.

    Some years ago I had a horse with this exact issue. Oat flour 100% fixed it. I think I gave 1/4 cup twice a day in her feed (might have been 1/2 a cup per feed). It's super cheap so is easy to try. However, I would caution that it takes at least 2 weeks for something like this to resolve. I'm not sure how long you tried each of the things on your list, but if it was less than 2 weeks, it may not have had enough time to do the job.

    Good luck!


      wow you have tried all the things I know.
      is he still on the psyllium?
      How long did you do the bio sponge?
      what probiotics? i know they range in potency. Platinum balance is really good if you haven't tried that.

      did they ultrasound for sand? i would think the psyllium would address this, but just another idea.

      best of luck. i am going to check in to learn new things.


        Is this something that you've come across already?

        Might be worth considering a change to his turnout and seeing how you can help him some more with his emotional regulation. I feed my sensitive TB SmartGut Ultra, but it is rather expensive. I'd recommend asking your vet about it first and just following up with your vet in general.


          I’d try forco. I feed it to my 4 YO warmblood with GI issues and she’s been 100% since she’s been on it for about 4 or 5 months now. My barn mates also use it for their seniors that get watery poo and it’s gone immediately when they’re on forco. I swear by that stuff. I think the company is based out of my area so lots of people/vets here love it but I don’t think it’s as big everywhere else. And the price is super reasonable.


            Original Poster

            Thank you for the link Pony Someday, I have read some links with very similar info, but not that one. He seems to be in what is a good small group for him (4 horses including him). We did have some trouble early on finding him buddies that didn't chase or were nasty to him. He hated individual turn out. I have wondered if longer turnout would benefit him, but in our area most of the boarding facilities geared at hunter/jumpers do similar turnout.

            I'm continuing to touch base with my vet, we keep trying all their new suggestions!

            To address a few other questions:
            -he is still on the pysllium, it's just about the only thing that shows some response in the fecal water
            -I did the bio-sponge for a month if I recall
            -everything we have tried, I've done for about 3.5-5 weeks
            -I'm in Canada, so I think some supplements may differ, but the pre/pro biotic he is on is Equine Choice (vets rec) and I've also tried Omega Alpha.
            -I forgot to mention, we tried a course of Trazodone to see if it might help calm him and therefore the fecal water. I don't find him difficult to work with but he certainly tends towards being anxious. It made him a little dopey, but didn't change the fecal water. Also not really a long term solution anyway.
            -We haven't scoped for sand. It isn't particularly sandy here, but worth a shot.

            I'm going to see if I have access to Platinum Balance pro-biotics here. I might also push my vet to consider stomach ulcers again.

            edit to add I am going to check out oat flour too.


              I have a gelding who has had trouble with free fecal water. I had a veterinary nutritionist suggest adding a scoop of Timothy pellets to his meals and it worked for him. I was pretty surprised, as I had tried lots of different things before that. My gelding has more trouble in the winter than summer - which means that his issue is largely related to hay consumption, I believe. He doesn’t have nearly as much trouble with his digestion when he is on pasture and minimal hay. I do find that a soft, non stalky hay works best for him.


                My horse had fecal water as a symptom of his right dorsal colitis. What eventually cleared it up was a course of metronidazole, which worked but he couldn’t be weaned fully off of it. We then did a fecal transfer, which took care of it immediately. Now, as long as he is on soft hay, his gut is fine. I do also keep him on Platinum Balance for support. But the fecal transfaunation is a fairly inexpensive and in my experience long lasting solution. I will say that he was always a fairly easy keeper but since the transfer he is a very easy keeper!

                I have a paper that I have shared on here before but can link it again. Will edit to add once I find it.


                  I had a horse like this that was helped by marshmallow root. It is generally used as an herbal ulcer treatment but my understanding is that it can help decrease inflammation all along the GI tract. I can’t remember brand or dosage, but it was just straight marshmallow root, perhaps purchased from a bulk herb or health food supplier.


                    Any chance he's on Orchardgrass hay? If so, use a different hay.

                    Can you get/have you tried Assure Guard/Gold?

                    What grain?

                    It's unfortunately that FFWS doesn't appear to have any reliably known causes, though the presence of Orchardgrass seems to be one of the more common culprits, when something is identified.
                    The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET


                      Curious if you are on well water? A friend struggled with this and when she moved her horse to a new farm (with different water source) the issue cleared up.


                        Originally posted by Dutchmare433 View Post
                        My horse had fecal water as a symptom of his right dorsal colitis. What eventually cleared it up was a course of metronidazole, which worked but he couldn’t be weaned fully off of it. We then did a fecal transfer, which took care of it immediately. Now, as long as he is on soft hay, his gut is fine. I do also keep him on Platinum Balance for support. But the fecal transfaunation is a fairly inexpensive and in my experience long lasting solution. I will say that he was always a fairly easy keeper but since the transfer he is a very easy keeper!

                        I have a paper that I have shared on here before but can link it again. Will edit to add once I find it.
                        This - Metronidazole. A lady I am acquainted with, on another forum, and who lives somewhere on the east side of Canada has a late teens-early 20’s gelding that she could not get the watery stools to clear up, no matter what she tried — which was everything under the sun for two years.

                        Metronidazole was the only thing that cleared him up

                        And I’m pretty sure I got the information to pass along from Dutchmare’s old post, so thank you


                          You're in Canada, so I would highly recommend trying Pronutrin (by Boehrigher Ingleheim...probably butchered that spelling, but it's only available for purchase through vets). It's targeted for hindgut support, and I've some improvements in a few horses with "poo issues". Also, it's one that can be fed consistently if needed, or intermittently during times of stress or other triggers.


                            I am 99.9999% sure it was the water at my previous farm. My horse struggled the entire time I had him at the farm I changed diet I did the poop up the nose I did supplements had a specialist come out and test him. Still the poops. If you can I would see about the water and if you can put an RV water filter on the source I would venture that his poops would clear up.

                            My horse is grain free as well he gets this twice a day

                            1/2 cup Timothy Pellets
                            1 4oz scoop Lone Star Trace
                            1 4oz scoop Flax

                            This paired with the water being filtered I would say has been a life changer for him!
                            when the world turns on you your horse will be there.


                              Original Poster

                              Originally posted by JB View Post
                              Any chance he's on Orchardgrass hay? If so, use a different hay.

                              Can you get/have you tried Assure Guard/Gold?

                              What grain?

                              It's unfortunately that FFWS doesn't appear to have any reliably known causes, though the presence of Orchardgrass seems to be one of the more common culprits, when something is identified.
                              He is not on orchard grass to my knowledge. But our hay does change a bit during the year. Unfortunetly I don't have much control of this as I board. But I'm going to look into it.

                              He only wants hay cubes and a bit of Purina optimal plus supplements. The vet recommended trying to cut out grain to see.

                              I've not tried assure guard, I'll have to see if I can get it


                                Original Poster

                                The barn is on well water. Gahhh that would be a hard fix!

                                Going to ask my vet about Metronidazole or Pronutrin as next steps.


                                  It may be that you and your horse will both need some patience as things get right with his innards.

                                  I do not have anything more to suggest re stuff he could ingest, just this ... when I got my gelding, he had been eating nothing but free choice of some really crummy, brown, dry, nutrition-less hay for months. It is a good thing I had bought him off an initial look at an earlier photograph, because he looked terrible at the time. Round gut but ribs and backbone stood out. Harsh dark colorless coat (he's mahogany bay). So he was stuffing his gut something, but getting little good out of it. He was hungry in the way of horses that eat and eat without feeling nutritionally satisfied. The vet and I agreed that his system was depleted. He was sort of starving on non-nutritious food.

                                  His poop was pure liquid for 6 months before it was becoming thicker like chili (sorry for the image comparison). For weeks we tried this and that (vet advice, nutritionist assisted, phone calls to other nutritionists), adjusted supplements, before he started looking better on the outside, while squirting liquid poop. Over the second 6 months it went from chili to cow splat. Any extra excitement, such as a trip off-property, or weather change could send his poop back a step for a few days or a week.

                                  So that's a 1 year journey from liquid to ploppy-cow-splat. With various kinds of help being applied as we figured out what was working at each step.

                                  Outwardly he looked great after the first 6 months. And behaved and performed as expected. You would not have looked at him and guessed his digestive issues.

                                  So then, beginning with his 2nd year on the new routine, he issued ploppy-poop for months while I wondered if his gut would ever be right. More adjustments in diet/supplements. Gradually it began looking more like green shiny horse poop, with any wrinkle in his life causing another short round of ploppy-poop. Gradual progress meant that any mild life disturbance caused the green poop to take on a pungent smell, rather than reverting to plop again.

                                  So that's 2 years from the beginning to a normal-ish, green shiny horse poop, that occasionally stank, but didn't regress to plop at every little thing.

                                  At some point pre-or-post the year 3 mark, he poops like any other horse. Doesn't get ploppy or exceptionally stinky after leaving the property to go on adventures, or at weather changes.

                                  He has been on SmartPak Exceed 6-Way for over a year now. It has several gut aspects that seem to have assisted in stabilizing things. If I had it to do again, I would have started with that, along with whatever extras he may have needed.

                                  And for what it is worth, at no point in this journey has he showed signs of colic. My last one was colic-prone. This one hasn't shown symptoms over the 3+ years I've had him.

                                  So I am not expert enough to know what all was going on in there, all this time. I suspect that the balance of good vs bad would wobble back and forth. And that the part of the gut that was more or less healthy probably varied. Somehow it has leveled out and he is now a normal-pooping horse. It will occasionally have extra moisture if he has strong reservations about the demands of the next step in his training. But as he settles to that new learning, his poop settles as well. Otherwise, trailering and weather are not having much effect - fingers crossed.


                                    Have you tried EquiShure? It didn't work for mine but the vet had a number of horses that did. Some were on it for six months, others longer.

                                    My horse produces excess fecal water as a response to soy, flax or small strongyles burrowing into or out of his intestinal wall. He will also produce it when it's really hot out and his gut bacteria gets cooked. The fecal water with poop balls quickly becomes cow patties if heat is the issue.

                                    I have heard of horses reacting similarly to alfalfa.

                                    It is a real pain to have a horse react to common horse feed ingredients.

                                    Mine had an ongoing issue for over a year that turned out to be encysted small strongyles. We did fecal tests but apparently not when they were laying eggs so that got ruled out until a biopsy of his gut wall was done. For several years afterwards he collected more though not enough to cause a problem until they were killed by Quest dewormer. 7-10 days after the Quest he'd have fecal water and soft poop as his body expelled the dead worms from the intestinal wall. It was very messy but it let me know if he'd been picking up more worms. He now falls into the low shedding group (determined by fecal counts - confirmed by Quest).




                                      Sure sounds like ulcers to me. Never any harm i treating them like ulcers. If the omeprazole sorts out the situation with the girthiness (sounds lot like ulcers) and irritation being brushed (sounds a whole lot like ulcers) and the watery stool, I guess you solved the problem. If it doesn't, then you look elswhere. Really kind of a no-brainer.
                                      Airborne? Oh. Yes, he can take a joke. Once. After that, the joke's on you.


                                        I think some are unfamiliar with free fecal water syndrome. It's not diarrhea. It's not even loose manure. There is no definitive cause, therefore no definitive cure, but some common factors have been seen (but don't apply to all horses). And things like parasites and dental needs have never been found to be a factor.

                                        It's normal manure, followed by a watery stream (or just a watery stream at any point, but usually right after passing the pile)

                                        The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET