California Riding Magazine • March, 2014

Coconuts In Horses?
Surprising ingredient has great effect on equines.

by Win Wolcott

It seems that every few months a new nutritional fad appears with wild claims of the benefits to be realized from the latest new thing. A good friend in the cutting horse industry once told me, "If the big futurity was won by a horse eating only carrots, there would be nothing but orange manure in the cutting pens for the next year."

While I believe that following fads is all too common, every once in a while something that has the potential to change the game does come along. This awakening happened to me four years ago when I received a call from a nutritionist in Australia wanting to know if I was interested in consulting on the development of coconut meal into the US equine feed market. My initial response was what you might expect: not really interested.

Luckily, he did not give up on me. In the end, it required that he make a trip to the US. This trip resulted in him walking into my office in Northern California with a two-foot high stack of clinical work that extended back years in Australia. I had before me the most tested equine feed ingredient that I had never heard of: coconut meal.
What?? Coconuts in horses? Before you quit reading, give me a few more minutes.  

In the late 1980s we developed the low starch approach to feeding performance horses with the creation of food grade stabilized rice bran. Few can argue that the resulting product, Natural Glo, did not deeply influence the feed industry. By shifting energy production away from high starch feeds to higher fat concentrates, equine management became safer and more effective, with feeding programs that fit the horse's digestive system in a better way. Today, every major company who argued against this approach then makes a low starch equine feed now, many with rice bran added.

Stabilized rice bran and coconut meal are vastly different ingredients. The unique way that they work together to solve issues in the horse's body deserves a serious look. While most people have some understanding of stabilized rice bran in equine nutrition, the value of using coconut meal remains cloudy. It is time to fix that.

Coconut meal that is used in Renew Gold is the result of the mechanical extraction of part of the natural oil found in the inner meat of the coconut. The oil that remains after this process, about nine percent, has very unique properties not found in other vegetable-sourced natural fats. Coconut oil falls into a category known as medium chain triglycerides, or saturated fats. Other saturated fats are from animal fat, not vegetable, and not proper to use for horse feeds. Coconut oil is pretty unique in this respect.

Saturated fats are digested directly to the portal blood and reach the liver much faster than typical unsaturated fats found in other vegetable sources. This gives a much quicker energy response. As such, blending this type of fat with unsaturated fats from stabilized rice bran and high omega 3 fat from flax provides an even, smooth and wide energy flow to the horse on this blend. Sounds like a good reason to give coconut meal a try doesn't it?

There is more.

The high grade coconut meal used is Non-GMO and organic. There is practically no starch in coconut meal, the protein is of particularly high quality, and fits perfectly with stabilized rice bran and flax, as does the fiber. While all of this is of significant value, there is another aspect of coconut meal that allows it to move a product like Renew Gold into another level of effectiveness compared to simple fat supplement energy products.

A unique aspect of the medium chain triglycerides in coconut meal is its significant, clinically proven anti-bacterial, anti-viral and anti-inflammatory properties. Used high in the digestive system in the proper amounts, this can positively influence the efficiency of the upper GI tract, promote better utilization of the nutrients broken down there and prevent pathogen production from bacterial infection or inflammation. A properly functioning upper GI tract is the proper start to better function further down the digestive system.

As you can see, there is more to coconuts in horses than meets the eye. This is the real deal. For once, our horses can truly benefit from the latest fad.

Author Win Wolcott is the president of the Phoenix Company, LLC, makers of Renew Gold. For more information, visit www.renewgold.com.