Horses affected by equine metabolic syndrome, insulin resistance, and Cushing’s disease require modification in several areas of management to regain their health. Diligent adherence to dietary, exercise, and therapeutic changes are mandatory to avoid long- term negative and debilitating health effects. We now know that horses with equine metabolic syndrome, insulin resistance, and Cushing’s disease do not metabolize starch and sugar like normal horses, and this negatively affects endocrine function. Other major health problems are also associated with the disorders, such as obesity, although not all horses affected by these disorders become grossly overweight.
With hundreds of vitamin and mineral supplements on the market today it can be difficult in knowing what kind of vitamin/mineral supplement to feed and what type of situation warrants extra supplementation, as well as what products you should avoid.
The energy or calorie requirement of the horse is one of the most commonly analyzed factors of performance. Horses that compete in energy-oriented competitions need the proper amount of fuel to perform at their best, whether it is racing, eventing, or endurance riding. Often times when the topic of energy sources comes up, carbohydrates are considered the main source of energy. While carbohydrates play an important role in the production of energy, other sources, such as fat, should not be ignored.
Essential Fatty Acids (EFA’s) are compounds that are called essential because they are not synthesized by the body and, therefore, must be obtained from dietary sources. EFA’s, Omega 3 Fatty Acids in particular, serve as components of nerve cells, cellular membranes, and the very important regulatory substances known as prostaglandins.
As the summer temperatures rise, heat and humidity become an issue for those trying to exercise and train horses without putting both horse and rider in danger of becoming dehydrated, fatigued or suffer from heat stress. Madalyn Ward, DVM in Holistic Horsekeeping provides this advice when trying to decide to ride or not in high heat and humidity: “Luckily, there are simple ways that you can help your horse stay cool during hot humid weather. During these weather conditions, the first thing to do is to calculate the temperature-humidity index (THI): simply add the air temperature (in degrees Fahrenheit) to the percentage of humidity.
A horse primarily obtains feed while grazing and browsing. When offered pasture as its primary source of nutrition, a horse depends largely on hindgut fermentation, using a variety of hydrolyzable (susceptible to enzymatic digestion) and fermentable carbohydrates as its main energy source. The equine stomach contains regions capable of both enzymatic and limited fermentive digestion, while the small intestine performs predominantly enzymatic digestion of starches, proteins, fats, vitamins, and some minerals.