December 2015 – Mid Month Update

December 2015 – Mid Month Update

Holistic Horsekeeping
How to have a healthy happy horse


In This Issue:

1. What’s New in Laminitis Research – Part 2
2. Want to Have a Better Understanding of Your Horse?


1. What’s New in Laminitis Research – Part 2
Madalyn on horseEarlier this month we talked about diagnosis and treatment of metabolic diseases that trigger laminitis. In review, testing is critical to determine which condition or combination of conditions you are dealing with. Insulin resistance is treated primarily with diet and exercise and PPID is treated with the drug, pergolide, to lower ACTH levels. That being said, there is more to the story. Why do these conditions develop and what can be done to prevent them or at least prevent them form progressing to laminitis.

IR and Gut Bacteria
Insulin resistance is thought to have a genetic predisposition. Certain horse breeds, such as Arabians, Morgans, and ponies are especially prone to metabolic disease. Some new research suggests that gut flora populations may play a part in the expression of the gene for insulin resistance. Horses have a diverse population of beneficial gut bacteria and these bacteria can be diminished by exposure to environmental toxins, deworming drugs, antibiotics, fly sprays, and other chemicals. Chronic pain or emotional stress can also lower levels of good gut bacteria.

It is not always possible to control all the challenges to maintaining good gut bacteria so I like to feed a probiotic with a broad spectrum of good bacteria on a regular basis. Chronic pain can be avoided by regular bodywork sessions along with products that support the musculoskeletal system. Supporting the digestive system will also avoid chronic pain from ulcers. Emotional stress can be avoided by keeping horses in as natural an environment as possible. When horses are not able to stay in a natural setting then temperament balancing formulas can help them cope with stress.

IR and Weight
Obesity also appears to be a trigger in horses with the genetic potential for IR in that some genetically prone horses do not develop clinical signs when they maintain a lower body weight and get regular exercise. Avoid high starch grains and hay for horses that could be genetically prone to IR. Ideally, IR prone horses should have starch and sugar levels in the diet at or below 10%. Most feed labels do not list starch and sugar levels so you need to call the company to get this information. Sugar and starch levels vary greatly in hay, depending on when and how it was harvested. Hay can be tested at

If you are not able to get your hay tested then soaking hay is an option to lower the levels. Low starch, bagged forage products are also available and can be used as substitutes for a portion of the hay. Hay should be fed in small hole hay nets so the horse will be forced to slow down his rate of consumption. If your horse needs to lose weight then limit his overall consumption of food to 1.5% of his body weight each day.

Pasture is very tricky for an IR horse because sugar and starch levels can vary and it is almost impossible to control the amount of forage that is consumed. A horse can eat his full calorie needs in only a few hours on pasture. Heavily grazed or drought stressed grass can be very high in sugar. Weeds and leaves can also contain high sugar. Grazing muzzles and evening turnout may work for a horse that is not showing IR symptoms but avoiding pasture all together may be a better plan if you are having trouble with weight gain.

Adequate mineral levels and correct balance of minerals is also important for proper carbohydrate metabolism. Excess iron in the diet can trigger or worsen IR symptoms. Iron can be high in the soil in some areas of the country. In these areas, hay that is contaminated with dirt can contribute to high iron levels in the diet. Hay with high iron contamination from dirt should be rinsed rather than soaked. Soaking will increase the amount of iron your horse consumes. Testing of the hay for mineral balance is a very important part of managing the IR horse. It may require a nutritional consultation to formulate a plan to bring minerals into balance.

In part 3 of this article I will talk about the latest research available to help prevent and manage PPID.

You can read Part 1 of this article series HERE.

2. Want to Have a Better Understanding of Your Horse?
At Holistic Horsekeeping we’re all about happy, healthy horses and we’ve got the support resources help you learn how to keep your horse happy and healthy. By applying Dr. Ward’s temperament typing model, you’ll get a better understanding of your horse’s behavior, health concerns, and nutritional needs. Our newest resource is the Horse Harmony book available on Kindle! To help you learn more about your horse according to his or her temperament type, check out these great resources:

Horse Harmony Kindle book

Horse Harmony book

Five Element Balancing Formulas

Five Element Temperament Type Audios

Five Element Temperament Type ebooks

Five Element Temperament Type Consult

Tallgrass Online Course

Mentoring Program one on one with Madalyn Ward, DVM

HHH Group Five Element Temperament Type Forum

Five Element Temperament Type Blog Articles

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