Helping the hefty horse

By Connie Orcutt • Published: September 1st, 2013
Category: Animal Airwaves

Obesity can be a nagging problem in horses. Although your chubby charge may have packed on pounds due to excess calories or insufficient exercise, disease may also be to blame. One such malady is equine metabolic syndrome, or EMS.

EMS is also called insulin resistance. As in people with Type 2 diabetes, the EMS horse can’t respond to insulin. One result is excess weight gain. Another can be laminitis, a dangerous inflammation of the hooves.

Horses with EMS are usually older than 5 years and are often ponies, Morgans, Arabians or fjords. However, EMS can occur in any breed. While genes may predispose a horse to EMS, management factors bring it to life.

EMS is diagnosed with a blood test, but treatment isn’t so simple. Some medications can help your horse shed pounds, but just as for people, diet and exercise is also key. Your veterinarian can help you create a plan to transform your hefty horse into a svelte steed.