Coconut oil has been shown to enhance the performance of athlete's and to offer a variety of health benefits for people. But could it also be beneficial for horses?
Coconut Oil and Performance Enhancement
People believe that coconut oil is highly effective in human athletes because the body uses it more effectively than other fats. This makes the oil particularly supportive of endurance training. The latest research suggests that that same may be true in horses. Researches conducted a study to compare equine performance after the animals had been fed diets high in coconut oil, soybean oil and a mixture of the two. The horses which had been fed coconut oil produced the least lactate when galloping. A build-up of lactate is the result of the body using glucose as fuel and this causes pain in muscles and therefore reduces performance. The fats in coconut oil are likely to break down more quickly than those in other oils when in the body and are utilised as fuel rather than glucose. This reduces the amount of lactate produced.
Could Coconut Oil Prevent Mud Fever and Digestive Issues?
It could also be the case that coconut oil may help horses suffering with conditions such as mud fever, digestive issues or compromised immune systems. But more research would be ideal to establish the true benefits that horses could gain from the oil. What isn't in dispute is that the oil is a good source of energy and is highly palatable. It certainly offers potential for horses prone to tying up and it facilitates a reduction in cereal based feeds. It should be remembered, however, that many horses in the UK are actually overweight. So extra energy in the form of oils must be fed advisedly as it could lead to obesity.
Scepticism of Vets
Vets are sceptical about the potential for coconut oil to address mud fever. This is because the condition is a bacterial infection and not fungal so common sense would suggest that the application of oil would have little impact. The oil could even worsen the condition as bacteria might multiple beneath the barrier created. But stranger substances have turned out to have unexpected benefits!
Coconut Oil and Diabetes
Coconut oil could be a useful supplement for horses that struggle to absorb nutrients. It preserves insulin sensitivity and could prevent horses from developing type two diabetes. More research is certainly required here.
Feeding Coconut Oil
If you are interested in feeding your horse coconut oil, it is important to choose the right product. Look for virgin coconut oil which contains at least 45 per cent lauric acid. This is a type of fatty acid and is responsible for many of coconut oil's alleged benefits. The label should list the proportion of lauric acid. Buy cold pressed oils as heating this oil can alter the taste and reduce the nutritional value. Coconut oil is gaining in popularity and almost certainly offers beneficial properties for horses. But there simply hasn't been enough research to enable anyone to make definitive statements about the extent to which the oil could enhance equine health.