For horses with metabolic issues, winter can pose a unique set of challenges, including increased risk of laminitis. Here are some tips on how to manage those issues.
Winter can negatively impact horses challenged by equine metabolic syndrome in a variety of ways, and this can increase their risk for an attack of laminitis.
1) Research has shown that cold-weather stress can lead to increases or erratic changes in insulin levels.
2) Horses that have suffered from laminitis in the past may have a damaged vascular supply to the foot. During cold periods, the horse’s body decreases blood flow to the extremities to conserve heat. In a normal horse this does not cause harm, but in a horse with a damaged vascular supply, it could limit blood flow enough to cause pain.
3) During the cold weather many owners reduce the amount they ride, and horses may be confined more than normal due to inclement weather. This reduction in exercise can lead to increases in insulin levels.
4) Depending on the weather, a horse may need more calories during the winter to maintain a healthy weight. Feeding additional foodstuffs to provide more calories may also increase the sugar level (overall percent of NSC) in the diet.
Steps you can take to reduce the risk to your EMS horse:
1) Keep your horse comfortably warm. Incorporate blankets when necessary and provide shelter from the wind, cold rain and snow. Bed stalls a little deeper in the winter to provide additional insulation from cold floors. Provide additional forage that is low in NSC. Forage is the best fuel to keep a horse warm from the inside out!
2) Whenever it’s safe to do so, continue with routine exercise throughout the winter. When it is too cold to ride or work a horse safely, consider hand walking for 30 minutes, or lunge your horse at the walk on a safe surface.
3) When additional calories are needed to keep your horse warm in cold weather, increase the amount of low NSC grass hay you feed. If you need even more calories to maintain body weight or provide energy, add a high-fat supplement that is low in starch and sugar to the diet.
If you have a metabolically challenged horse, it is important to continue feeding a low-starch and low-sugar diet throughout the winter months. If your horse is on medication or supplements to help control metabolic disease, continue to use them as prescribed. Keep a close eye on your horse and check in with your vet if you see any foot soreness or other out-of-the-ordinary behavior.
About Kentucky Performance Products, LLC:
Challenge: Winter weight loss
Solution: Equi-Jewel®, a high-fat, low-starch and -sugar formula developed to safely meet the energy needs of your horse.
Whether you have a hard keeper that needs extra calories to maintain his weight, or a top performance horse that needs cool energy to perform at her peak, Equi-Jewel can meet your horse’s energy needs. Equi-Jewel reduces the risk of digestive upset, supports optimal muscle function, maintains stamina, and helps horses recover faster after hard work, all while providing the calories your horse needs to thrive.
The horse that matters to you matters to us®.
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