Equine Metabolic Syndrome

Got a good doer, or a fat cresty necked pony with cellulitis that is prone to laminitis? They may have Equine Metabolic syndrome. EMS is diagnosed when a horse or pony is overweight or carrying fatty deposits (or used to be like this but has been managed so is no longer overweight) has a history of or evidence of laminitis and has insulin resistance.

There are simularities between EMS and type 2 Diabetes in humans. In both a metabolic state is reached when there appears to be a constant state of low-grade inflammation. In horses and ponies we tend to see signs of this inflammation in their feet as laminitis.

Tests are now available that will show up if these ponies are suffering from EMS and whether they have excessive insulin resistance. If they are insulin resistant there are new veterinary treatments, together with diet, exercise and hoof trimming, that will help them. Give us a call to discuss what we can do to help.

Management of Good Doers

Yarding your pony to reduce his grazing time does help, but it means he is just standing around... exercise is essential to not only get that weight of, but it has been proven to increase his sensitivity to insulin. We have been working with some clients to develop a Hill Tracking System - the ponies are constantly working to get up and down the hill (water at the bottom, soaked hay feed at the top) and lose weight and maintain fitness much faster than using either a yarding system or a flat track system.


This pony works all day getting
up and down the slope
Sheep can get under the tape
and the pony wears much of the
grass out. There is a nice flat spot
for the pony to roll
The slope is about 35 degrees with very poor grass quality












We also have clients who have sprayed out their pony paddocks to remove all the high procudtion grasses and resown with "old style" grasses such as browntop that don't produce such high sugar levels.

Researchers at Colorado State University examined the effects of dietary supplementation with n-3 (also known as omega 3) polyunsaturated fatty acids in horses. They found that supplementation with these fatty acids derived from either marine and fish or ground flaxseed appears to improve insulin sensitivity in insulin resistant horses. The effect was noticed throughout the 90 day experimental period on a dose of just 38 grams per day.

We stock these oils at our clinics.

When your pony is on a restricted diet it is very likely he will need vitamin and mineral supplements - call us for advice.