Hoof Nutrition Intelligence Hoof Nutrition Intelligence is a twice-a-month web segment that is designed to add to the education of footcare professionals when it comes to effectively feeding the hoof. The goal of this web-exclusive feature is to zero in on specific areas of hoof nutrition and avoid broad-based articles that simply look at the overall equine feeding situation.

Below you will find Part 1 of the latest question and answer installment that you can share with your footcare clients.

Q: I’ve got a mare my farrier thinks may be suffering from equine metabolic syndrome. What is it and how do I manage it?

By Dave Billotte

A:  I’ve found horses diagnosed with metabolic issues are generally horses with equine metabolic syndrome (EMS), Cushing’s or insulin resistance.

I have two horses diagnosed with EMS, which is the inability to process certain sugars found in green grass, green forage or green hay. In the old days, they referred to these concerns as spring founder or grass founder.

With EMS, I’ve had success keeping horses off pasture and in a dry lot so there’s no availability for consuming grass. My second recommendation is to provide non-fresh cut hay. I refer to this as prime hay, which is more seasoned and cut in late June or early July here in Pennsylvania. It would be good clean hay with no mold, but not a lot of real lush green color either. 

If this hay isn’t available, soak or wash the hay you have to pull a lot of the starches out of it. Then throw the water away and feed the remaining wet fiber. 

I’d also recommend switching to a low starch diet. In my situation, I don’t use a low starch feed, but instead feed oats, which are fairly low in starch. 

Dave Billotte and his family operate Little B Ranch and Horseshoeing at Frenchville, Pa., where he shoes, trains, breeds and raises Quarter Horses. He also works with Pennwoods Equine Nutrition on equine nutrition concerns. Dave and his family participate in cowboy mounted shooting where he has reached the highest competition level in the sport.

Click here to read part 2 of the April. 1, 2020 installment of Hoof Nutrition Intelligence: How prevalent are lameness issues among horses? Click here to read more installments of Hoof Nutrition Intelligence.