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Foregut or Hindgut? That’s The Question – Part 2


Knowing what sort of support your horse needs can be tough, but it can also make a big difference.

We know there’s a lot of confusion between your horse’s foregut health and hindgut health. After all, the process of breaking down food and absorbing nutrients is all technically “digestion,” so isn’t it all the same? Not quite. The organs in the foregut and hindgut have very different functions, and each area has unique health concerns. An unhealthy stomach is at risk for gastric ulcers, while an unhealthy hindgut is at risk for colic and other digestive upset. As if all that’s not complicated enough, colic is not only the primary problem in the hindgut, it’s also a general term for abdominal pain, which means mild, recurrent colic can also be a sign of gastric ulcers. However, for the purposes of this article, when we say colic*, we’re referring to problems (gas, impaction, twists, etc.) in the organs that make up the hindgut. Confused? Have no fear—SmartPak’s here to help! In parts 1 & 2 of this blog, we’ll look at each condition in greater detail, and identify ways you can help support your horse.


Now that we’ve covered the stomach, what’s next? Technically, the small intestine is the next organ in your horse’s GI tract, as it is the second portion of the foregut. However, since this article focuses on the two main “problem” areas, we’re going to move on to the hindgut—what it does, what can go wrong, and how you can help keep your horse healthy.

In horses, the term “hindgut” refers to the section of the GI tract containing the cecum, large colon, small colon, and rectum.

The hindgut is responsible for digesting the complex or structural carbohydrates your horse eats, including all of his forage (hay, pasture, etc.). Since at least 60% of your horse’s diet should be made up of forage, there’s obviously a lot of work to be done!

If your horse’s hindgut isn’t functioning properly, it can cause a variety of problems. Excess gas, impaction, and loose stool can all result from hindgut upset or malfunction. Even more concerning, digestive upset can lead to colic, which can be fatal.

Colic is a general, catchall term used to refer to any sort of abdominal pain in horses (in layman’s terms, it’s a belly ache). While some cases may be so mild that you don’t even notice, a severe case of colic is a medical emergency. In fact, colic is responsible for more deaths in horses than any other condition.

The best thing you can do for your horse is get educated about colic. There are several proven factors that increase your horse’s risk of developing colic. Knowing these risk factors can help you make smart management and dietary changes. Additionally, learning the warning signs of colic can help you catch an episode early on, improving your horse’s chances of recovery. Last but not least, there are several supplement ingredients that have been clinically studied for their effect on digestive health. Learn about colic warning signs and risk factors.


Providing daily support is a great way to help your horse cope with digestive stress. SmartDigest Ultra was designed with high levels of clinically researched ingredients to offer comprehensive digestive support.

SmartDigest® Ultra Powder

As Low As: $38.95
(666 reviews)

SmartDigest Ultra contains ingredients that are proven to work, including:

  • Carefully selected prebiotics shown to reduce disruption in the hindgut
  • A specific strain of yeast demonstrated to improve fiber digestion and assist in adjusting to feed changes
  • Targeted enzymes shown to increase proper digestion of starch in the foregut

Unfortunately not. Even the best digestive supplement can’t solve every digestive dilemma. It’s important to work closely with your veterinarian and manage your horse’s risk factors to keep him happy and healthy. That’s why in order to be eligible for ColiCare, our FREE $7500 colic surgery reimbursement program, horses must follow a veterinarian directed wellness program inaddition to receiving SmartDigest Ultra in SmartPaks.


Read Part 3 of this blog series, featuring one smart solution

Posted in Health & Nutrition

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One comment on “Foregut or Hindgut? That’s The Question – Part 2
  1. Mary Condeff says:

    In part 1, Gastro Gard was specifically mentioned as the best way to treat Gastric Ulcers, followed with daily dose of Smart Gut Ultra. However, in part 2, no mention is made of treatment options (Gastro Gard, etc) for the hind gut, only of maintenance/preventative treatment, Smart Digest Ultra. Doesn’t Gastro Gard treat the hind gut??? or does it need a different product??

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Jen and Tally
Apparently I've been obsessed with horses since I was born, and I used to beg for pony rides on a regular basis. I started showing in 4-H, progressed to equitation and jumpers in high school and rode on the IHSA team in college where I also discovered the joys...

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