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: What role does insulin resistance have in terms of laminitis concerns?

By Kathleen Crandell

A: Understanding insulin resistance, knowing the role it plays in equine metabolic syndrome and the development of laminitis, and how these conditions impact the overall health of a horse can be confusing.

To help farriers, owners and equine veterinarians alike better understand these conditions, a group of Australian and United Kingdom researchers reviewed the available literature, and summarized their findings with these “quick” facts:

  • Laminitis due to altered insulin regulation is common in domestic equine populations and is an important cause of morbidity and mortality.
  • The term “insulin dysregulation” is synonymous with insulin resistance, which is a term used to describe horses with either an abnormally elevated fasting level of insulin or an exaggerated insulin response after feeding nonstructural carbohydrates.
  • Insulin resistance and obesity are central components of equine metabolic syndrome, a condition frequently found in horses and ponies predisposed to laminitis.
  • Diet is believed to play an important role in the development of insulin resistance, probably because some horses are overfed cereal-rich products, such as sweet feeds, become overweight and develop insulin dysregulation.
  • Feeding cereal-rich diets can induce insulin dysregulation even if a sensitive horse or pony does not become obese.
  • All overfed horses can develop a reduced sensitivity to insulin.
  • Horses and ponies fed only one carbohydrate-rich meal a day had better insulin responses than horses and ponies fed multiple meals that potentially over stimulate the insulin receptors.
  • Different breeds of horses with variable innate insulin sensitivities may also play a role in the development of equine metabolic syndrome.

The researchers concluded that diet certainly appears to play a role in insulin resistance, but further research is required to determine the relationship between obesity, diet and insulin dysregulation.

To determine if a horse’s diet contains the right balance of carbohydrates, contact an equine nutritionist. In addition, make sure a horse maintains an appropriate body condition score to help minimize insulin dysregulation and laminitis.

Kathleen Crandell is an equine nutritionist with Kentucky Equine Research in Versailles, Ky.

Hoof Nutrition Intelligence is brought to you by W.F. Young Co. (Absorbine). Absorbine

Like many significant achievements, Absorbine® grew out of humble beginnings—and through the tenacity of someone willing to question the status quo. In this case, it was a young woman in late 19th-century Massachusetts: Mary Ida Young. Her husband, Wilbur Fenelon Young, was an enterprising piano deliveryman who relied on the couple’s team of horses to make deliveries throughout the Northeast. Inspired by Mary Ida and Wilbur’s vision, Absorbine® has continued to add innovative products throughout the years — products used every day by horse owners around the world. Which is why, since 1892, we’ve been The Horse World’s Most Trusted Name®.


Click here to read Part 2 of the September 1, 2016 installment: While nutrition is critical for growing a quality hoof, isn’t the water content of the hoof also important?

Click here to read more installments of Hoof Nutrition Intelligence.