Hindgut issues: how significant are they? *H&H Plus*

  • How significant are hindgut issues? Tim Mair FRCVS discusses the horse’s engine: the large intestine

    The horse is a hindgut fermenter, meaning that the large intestine is the site of digestion (fermentation) of ingested fibre. This is where food is converted into energy, which fuels bodily functions such as movement and helps the horse to maintain body heat.

    The population of bacteria and other micro-organisms present in the hindgut is responsible for this fibre fermentation. Any major upset in this microbial community – termed dysbiosis – can result in “intestinal upsets”, causing diarrhoea, colic and weight loss.

    Conditions affecting the large intestine, sometimes referred to as “hindgut issues”, are often a topic of debate. While scientific evidence regarding the prevalence and significance of certain problems may be lacking, many disorders in this section of the digestive tract are recognised and understood.

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