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Overweight Horses Might Have Increased InflammationBy Kentucky Equine Research Staff · December 9, 2011

Studies in humans and canines have shown that obesity is associated with a low-level generalized inflammation throughout the body. This is due to a link between adipose (fatty) tissue and an increase in the level of pro-inflammatory substances known as cytokines.

Recent research conducted at the University of Michigan and Virginia Tech was designed to investigate whether the same thing is true for overweight horses. The study found that higher levels of serum amyloid A, a substance that increases with inflammation or infection in horses, tended to rise in correlation with condition scores. Some other inflammatory proteins that rise in obese humans were not seen to correlate to increased condition in horses.

Elevation of inflammatory substances is thought to be a factor in the progression of osteoarthritis because these substances increase the activity of cartilage-degrading enzymes.

Regardless of inflammation, horses that carry extra weight use more energy to train and perform, and also put more stress on joints and connective tissue.