Mature, idle horses on a sound nutritional program are likely to be getting everything they need to keep their immune status strong enough to protect them against disease. However, some groups of horses are at increased risk of illness because of challenges to their immune systems.
A recent study confirmed what many horse owners have always suspected. Some breeds of horses just naturally tend to gain weight more easily and have a harder time shedding extra pounds than other breeds.
Most horse owners love their equines, and caring equates to feeding in many cases. Too much of this type of care, however, becomes a well-meaning disservice if the horse becomes too heavy.
To measure the effect and possible benefits of slowing feed intake rate, a research team fed horses in various ways and then calculated glycemic response.
Avoiding or managing metabolic disease involves dietary tweaking and oftentimes other management changes.As metabolic conditions are better understood by both veterinarians and nutritionists, dietary recommendations are becoming easier to implement, and horses are reaping the benefits.
What is appropriate hay for my mare with HYPP?
Can my Dutch Warmblood gelding be short on calcium, causing bone and lameness problems?
Decreasing dietary intake and increasing exercise are time-honored management strategies to induce weight loss, but in spite of an owner’s best efforts along these lines, some horses seem determined to stay as chubby as ever.
How can I be sure my pony mare is receiving optimal nutrition?
I’ve tried everything I know to add weight to my aged mare, but it doesn’t seem to be working. Please help!
For many horsemen, iron is usually one of the first trace minerals considered when contemplating supplementation. Iron is well known for its function in blood, but that is not its only duty within the body.
My filly has PSSM and growth issues. Is her current diet optimal?
For many horses, the demands of training, performance, travel, and even herd dynamics raise the stress level of everyday routines, putting the immune system under pressure. Feeding with an eye to immune system support can help prevent illness.
Mature horses doing little work need only enough protein to maintain body tissues. Requirements for protein go up as horses are put into an exercise program, and the need increases with the workload because these active horses must build lean muscle tissue.
Vitamin E and selenium both function as antioxidants in the cell and are therefore required by the horse for optimal well-being.
A complex relationship exists between the type and amount of feed given, the duration and intensity of work expected of the horse, the impact of feeding on the digestive system, and the impact of exercise on gut function and nutrient digestibility.
Digestible energy refers to the amount of energy in the diet that is absorbed by the horse, and is provided to horses by four different dietary sources: starch, fat, protein, and fiber.
What are your recommendations for managing a horse with shivers?
What is the best way to feed my horse that may or may not have PSSM?
Feeding horses with pituitary pars intermedia dysfunction (PPID), also known as equine Cushing's disease, can sometimes be difficult because they are often older, underweight, and may have insulin resistance with or without recurrent laminitis.
A study conducted at the University of Melbourne was designed to investigate changes in insulin sensitivity when equines became obese.
What feed would you recommend for overweight horses with Cushing’s disease and/or insulin resistance?
A horse’s body weight normally fluctuates a little bit due to season, age, health status, parasite load, dental condition, access to pasture, level of exercise, and other factors. If the horse has a good appetite and seems to eat normally but is losing significant amounts of weight, owners have reason to suspect a problem.
How does molasses in beet pulp affect glycemic response?
Should I give my three overweight miniature donkeys a balancer pellet to ensure they’re getting proper minerals and vitamins?
Researchers designed a feeding trial to evaluate whether adding fat to a grain meal would affect glucose and insulin response to feeding when the level of grain intake remained the same.
How can I tell if a gelding’s feed is providing too many nonstructural carbohydrates for his insulin resistance and associated laminitis?
Nutritional management of horses with equine metabolic syndrome is important to reduce body fat and decrease the chances of laminitis.
There are a number of different types of carbohydrates in horse feed, and they vary considerably as to how well horses digest and utilize each one.
What can I feed my laminitic, insulin-resistant pony mare?
I have a mare with insulin resistance, and I am having trouble getting her in foal. What can I do?
Although extreme calcium imbalances are seen less today than in the past, the introduction of foreign subtropical grasses has meant that horse owners have another danger spot to look out for when investigating potential horse pastures.
Glucosamine is a commonly used supplement for osteoarthritis in both humans and horses. Does administration of oral glucosamine, such as that found in joint supplements, affect glucose metabolism?
In the horse world, psyllium is the product of choice to prevent sand colic, but little else in known about its usefulness. However, physicians often recommended psyllium for humans with diabetes because it moderates glucose response and insulin release. Because the focus of psyllium use in horses centers around its use in sand colic, little is known about its effect on insulin sensitivity.
Carbohydrates are a key source of energy for horses, but feeding them must be done thoughtfully as flooding the gastrointestinal tract may result in health risks such as hindgut acidosis, colic, and laminitis.
Is there a homemade diet I can make for my mare diagnosed with PSSM?
Glycemic index is a system used to rank carbohydrates based on their effect on blood glucose levels. The system compares available carbohydrates in individual feedstuffs, providing a numerical, evidence-based index of the level of glucose in the blood after a meal.
When a malnourished horse is presented for nutritional rehabilitation, the person who is caring for the horse should make a full assessment of the horse’s condition.
Magnesium is a vital macromineral, and it is becoming increasingly recommended by veterinarians for various treatments in the horse. So why do horses require magnesium, and how does it fit for therapeutic use?
Can you tell me the best way to feed beet pulp, especially if shredded is not available?
Though every mare should be managed individually with her specific needs in mind, a few general recommendations can be made.
Balancer pellets pack a punch, with protein content between 25 and 35%, as well as concentrated minerals and vitamins.
Is there a resource that compares all grasses and legumes commonly fed in the U.S., complete with nutritional values and glycemic indexes?
My 16-year-old American Saddlebred had an episode of laminitis a year ago. I want him to have more energy but not be out of control. What can I do?
Retired racehorses can present some nutritional challenges to their new owners. While no single approach will be the magic solution for every horse, some general guidelines can help your recently retired athlete flourish.
Here’s how to plan your endurance ride competition day so that your horse has the best chance, from a nutritional management standpoint, of giving you his maximal performance when the time comes.
A common nutritional problem encountered in easy-keeping drafts is undersupplementation of key nutrients in their diets. If they are on a low-grain or forage-only diet, they are likely receiving inadequate quantities of vitamins, minerals, and possibly protein.
Researchers hypothesized that a base diet of oat hay would improve insulin sensitivity compared to a diet that would produce a more marked insulin response due to the addition of glucose.
Researchers assign a cresty neck score (CNS) to describe degree of fat deposition and to monitor changes in neck thickness.
The method by which you deliver your horse’s meals could affect insulin concentrations, and this could be valuable for horses with insulin resistance.
Horse owners know to be cautious when allowing horses access to lush green pasture in the spring. But that tired-looking autumn grass can be just as dangerous for some animals at risk of laminitis.
When muscle atrophy occurs, the primary concerns to a horse owner are whether the muscle will regenerate and how to treat the horse to help it recover.
The syndrome was first described in 2002 and has many similarities to a comparable condition in humans. For years, veterinarians had recognized that obese young horses were at risk of developing laminitis but only fairly recently has this association been further investigated.
As understanding of laminitis and metabolic issues increases among horse owners, drylots are becoming more commonplace on farms.
Summary of several research studies on magnesium and chromium for horses with equine metabolic syndrome.
It seems like your thin horse is constantly eating, but he just doesn’t seem to hold any weight. What might be going on?
Two important considerations when feeding warmbloods are carefully regulating growth in young horses and maintaining moderate body condition in adults.
Researchers examined the heritability of grass founder in an inbred herd of Welsh and Dartmoor ponies.
The basic principles of feeding horses can be applied to ponies, but there are a few simple points to consider.
While many horses can still graze day after day without developing problems, some classes of horses should have limited pasture access to avoid the serious metabolic upsets triggered by consumption of the sugars in fresh grass.
Some old horses can be fed like their middle-aged peers. Others, particularly those with health problems, need special nutritional care.
Dietary fiber is the most important consideration when designing a diet for old horses, particularly those with dental problems.
Both diet and exercise are included in a management plan for horses with EMS.
Appropriate forages must be selected for horses diagnosed with a metabolic problem. Forages low in nonstructural carbohydrates are typically the best choices for this subset of horses.
Low-starch feeds are not appropriate for every horse. Certain groups of horses require starch for optimal performance, so what lies behind the current low-starch craze?
<p> Is it safe to give a broodmare supplemental iodine such as kelp or seaweed?</p>
Researchers from several universities are collaborating on a study to investigate the occurrence and genetic pattern of equine metabolic syndrome.
Supplements may help to fill in the gaps by providing certain nutrients required by the endurance horse.
<p> How prone are miniature donkeys to laminitis?</p>
If you have an equine that seems to get fat just by breathing, you know it can be hard to manage his diet.
Polysaccharide storage myopathy is a glycogen (muscle sugar) storage disorder that is characterized by the accumulation of an abnormal polysaccharide in muscle.
In the second part of a three-part series, another form of tying-up, recurrent exertional rhabdomyolysis (RER) is discussed in detail.
Tying-up is a generic term commonly used to describe muscle disease in performance horses. Other terms often used interchangeably with tyingup include exertional rhabdomyolysis, azoturia, and Monday morning sickness.
Keeping a horse at its optimum body condition will help to ensure the horse can perform the work that is asked of it.
Numerous causes can account for a horse's inability to maintain weight aside from not consuming sufficient calories.
A horse's weight is an important statistic for horse owners, managers, and veterinarians to know when formulating a diet or medication dosage for the animal.
One of the simplest ways to help manage metabolic diseases in horses is through dietary manipulation.
Knowing a horse's body weight doesn't tell us if that is the best body weight for that horse
Equine metabolic syndrome refers to a condition in which an inappropriate insulin reaction occurs after a horse consumes carbohydrate-rich hay or feed. So how do you feed these horses without setting them up for a crisis?
<p> How can I slim down my horse's cresty neck?</p>
<p> What can I feed my roping horses that are tying-up?</p>
Insulin resistance (IR) is defined as reduced sensitivity to insulin that results in increased insulin release and/or decreased activity of insulin.
<p> Is he getting sufficient fat to help his PSSM or should I add more fat in the form of corn oil?</p>
Although an exact definition may be elusive, most people know a pony when they see one. What comes to mind is an animal that is smaller and often somewhat more heavy-bodied for its size than a horse.
Obesity in horses is a dangerous condition that can be linked to a variety of health problems.
Increasing the body mass of horses through weight gain is a particularly timely topic because more horses are turning up in rescue situations and a clear understanding of weight gain and changes in body condition are warranted.
Don't know how much your horse weighs? Here's a formula from Equus that may give you a rough idea.
<p> Is there anything you can feed that would prevent or greatly reduce the risk of tying up, and are there any feeding regimes that could cause tying up?</p>
<p> Can you suggest a feed or supplement that I can give my horse so I can be sure she's getting all the vitamins and minerals she needs?</p>
Most horses affected with equine metabolic syndrome (EMS) are overweight and have abnormal fat deposits that include a cresty neck, fat around the tailhead that makes the tail look inset into the body, and fat pads around the shoulder, sheath, or udder.
<p> Are there other ways to put weight on my gelding without risking laminitis?</p>
<p> Does my horse need a low-starch feed?</p>
EMS is one of several disorders affecting horses that is either triggered or aggravated by excessive starch and sugar intake.
Equine nutritionists and researchers are uncovering interesting trends related to body condition and metabolic conditions, some of which directly relate to whether certain sport horses are as susceptible to metabolic conditions as horses that are exercised from time to time or not at all.
It's worthwhile to cater to the horse's nature by making turnout part of his daily schedule.
Every horseman has seen, at one time or another, the telltale signs of a thin horse.
Knowing what to feed, and in what amount, is often the key to overcoming metabolic disorders.
The care and management of old horses has been the focus of much scrutiny of late. The reason is obvious: horses are living much longer than they once did, and horsemen needed to know how to offer appropriate care.
Insulin resistance occurs when the cells become less sensitive to insulin, thereby limiting the uptake of glucose. When this occurs, more and more insulin is required to move glucose out of the bloodstream and into cells. When insulin resistance is severe enough, glucose accumulates in the blood, thus limiting the availability of energy to cells.
In a recent study conducted by the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine (VMRCVM) and the College of Agriculture & Life Sciences at Virginia Tech, 300 horses were examined between June and August of 2006. Of these, more than half (51%) were determined to be overweight or obese.
Can't live with them, can't live without them. Humans have been inundated with the supposed evils of carbohydrates. But what contributions-good or bad-do carbohydrates make to the equine diet? Must horsemen be mindful of counting carbs in their horses' diets? As with most topics in equine nutrition, the question cannot be answered with a simple yes or no.
A sound nutritional plan, along with careful attention from a handler, veterinarian, and farrier, can save many starved horses. Recovery may take several months, and during this time each horse must be evaluated and treated on an individual basis.
As the grass brightens from brown to green, the nutrient content of the plant changes considerably. Horses will undoubtedly relish the newfound forage, but care must be taken to allow only the amount of grazing time necessary to sustain optimal body weight. If horses are allowed unchecked access to spring grass, they can quickly become overweight. The perils of obesity include decreased stamina and a greater likelihood for unsoundness.
Evaluating the body condition of pregnant mares may become more difficult during late gestation, as the combined weight of the fetus and amniotic fluid may pull the skin tightly over the vertebral column and ribcage. Therefore, it's best to place emphasis on other key areas: along the withers, behind the shoulder, and around the tailhead.
Proper nutrition is extremely important in managing horses with metabolic disorders. Regulating the amount and type of feed, with special attention to carbohydrates, allows many horses to show minimal disease signs, maintain healthy body condition, stay comfortable, and safely perform exercise.
Some horses are metabolically inclined to be hard keepers while others have medical, psychological or environmental reasons for having difficulty in maintaining weight.
Some horses are metabolically inclined to be hard keepers while others have medical, psychological or environmental reasons for having difficulty in maintaining weight.
Insufficient caloric intake is the primary cause of failure to maintain sufficient body condition in horses. A variety of reasons may account for caloric deficiency. Some are easy to pinpoint and simple to address, such as parasite loads or teeth problems. Others are impossible to diagnose without euthanizing the horse and performing a necropsy. Physical problems of the digestive tract account for many of these problems, but there may be psychological and environmental reasons as well.
Do we have adequate research and understanding of what the impact of high-fat diets might be to their metabolism or to their overall physical development?