Equine Metabolic Disorders

Obesity can lead to Equine Metabolic Syndrome, PPID (Cushings), Insulin Resistance and Hyperinsulinemia usually resulting in Laminitis.

Courtesy of Horse & Hound

There is also a condition in horses called Equine Polysaccharide Storage Myopathy (EPSM or PSSM).  This is another form of carboy hydrate intolerance that triggers tying up due to a genetic defect causing abnormal glycogen metabolism.  These can be treated by limiting sugar and starch uptake and replacing extra need calories with fats.

‘Horses with any type of metabolic disorder must be managed closely to ensure the intake of sugars and starches are minimised (if not completely eliminated from the diet).  By supplying the horse with energy or calories in the form of fat or soluble fibre, ensure blood glucose remains low following a meal.

Obese horses should be kept on grasses low in soluble sugars called fructans.  Spring and Autumn grasses are high in fructans, obese horses should have limited access to grass during these periods.

Chromium and magnesium play a role in reducing resistance to insulin.  Horses affected by obesity induced diseases are usually chromium and magnesium deficient, although no specific requirement has been defined for horses to date.

Read full article: Obese Horse Management The Nude Horse


EMS disorders include Insulin Resistance (IR) and Hyperinsulinemia commonly resulting in laminitis.

Image by Deben Valley Equine Veterinary Clinic

The latest research now explains how this process occurs: During the digestive process, both sugars and starches are turned into the sugars (often from a diet high in grains, pellets and high NSC grasses & hays) Horses have a limited capacity to digest substantial amounts of sugar and starch in the stomach and small intestine.  The excess supply of sugar and starch travels through the small intestines and on into the hindgut where the trouble begins.  An increase of sugar fermentation creates lactic acid.  Lactic acid lowers the pH causing an acidic environment, this in turn kills off the good microbes.  The dead microbes give off endotoxins that now enter the blood stream, this chain reaction often culminates in poor gut health, ill thrift (or obesity) and potentially laminitis.

Whilst ‘bute’ plays a very important role in the early stages of a laminitic episode, it is really only needed for a matter of days, not weeks and definitely not months. Nutritional supplementation is vital to support the body’s efforts at recovery.

A combination of supplements useful during the healing process include concentrating on the ulcerated stomach with a potent probiotic supplement and a top quality nutritional supplement with balanced minerals – preferably both chelated and organic where possible.

Read the full article: Laminitis indepth The Nude Horse

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