Now that I’m done with mouths, let’s move on to a “more interesting” subject, Intestines! Namely, the horse intestines. True digestion begins in the small intestine when it receives liquefied feed material from the stomach. With assistance from the enzymes secreted by the pancreas, the small intestine is the primary site for digestion and absorption of sugar and starch (a complex sugar in plants), protein (that has been initially digested in the stomach), and fat. The small intestine is also the site for absorption of fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, and K), calcium, and phosphorous. The large intestine in the horse works like a large fermentation vat in which tremendous numbers of bacteria and protozoa live to facilitate further digestion of plant fiber by their production of enzymes that are capable of breaking down this component of the equine diet (the horse itself does not have these enzymes). This fiber breakdown produces substances called “volatile fatty acids” that can then be absorbed and used by the horse for energy. A second important function of the large intestine is water absorption. This function occurs very efficiently such that by the final step in the small colon, the waste material not used by the horse is formed into fecal balls. These are subsequently passed into the rectum for evacuation through the anus. There, wasn’t that fun? I sure had fun writing it. 😉
To see some horse intestines, click here to watch my video.