Do our horses really need all that sugar?
As horses evolved, their diets consisted of varied grasses and other plant material. They walked miles, spending hours grazing on a variety of grasses. They were unrestricted in the amounts of grasses they consumed, but most horses’ habitats required a long journey to find these grasses.
Modern horse-keeping has limited the horses’ movements, and therefore restricted them to what we offered them. Generally, horses are confined to a small paddock and fed twice daily. The incidence of metabolic disease is on the rise, and we must look at how our horses are being fed.
Hay quality has been improving, as well as the amount of grains and concentrates our horses are receiving. Standard feeds for many barns consist of “sweet” feeds which contain large amounts of molasses and grains.
Horses that are sensitive to large amounts of sugar and starches in their diets cannot handle these types of feeds. Laminitis can be the end result of feeding too much sugar and starch.
Equine Metabolic Syndrome
EMS is both a metabolic and a hormonal disorder that describes horses with:
- Regional adiposity: a “cresty neck,” fat pads near the tail head, fat
- accumulation in the sheath/near the mammary gland;
- Insulin resistance
- Hyperinsulinemia; and
“They are commonly referred to as ‘easy keepers’ because they can thrive, or even become obese, on a diet that would barely maintain the other horses in the same herd.
Equine Cushing’s disease is a common endocrine (hormonal) disorder that is relatively easy to diagnose in its advanced form because classic clinical signs are present. Affected horses have delayed shedding of the winter hair coat, a long curly hair coat, muscle loss, lethargy, excessive drinking and urination, and sometimes, but not always, laminitis. Horses with advanced Cushing’s are usually older (more than 20 years old), so we tend to think of this endocrine disorder as a medical condition of old horses.
However, it is increasingly being recognized that Cushing’s disease, which should be referred to as PPID at this stage, begins at a younger age. Early Cushing’s has been detected in horses 10 years of age and is more prevalent than previously thought. Horses with early Cushing’s have a history of decreased muscle mass, loss of condition on the same diet, reduced performance, or development of abnormal fat deposits.
We developed BEET-E-BITES for any horse that may have a metabolic disorder, including EMS, Insulin Resistance, Cushing’s disease and PSSM.. They are tested and guaranteed to be under10%NSC.
Does your horse exhibit any signs of these diseases?