Re: New Member Message - Location Waxhaw, NC


Hi Michelle,

Welcome to the group!  Ok, first requirement is deep breaths!  We can and will help you!  You are doing a bunch of stuff that we recommend already, so let's fine tune your plan for your Rocky Mountain gelding.  What's his name, btw?  To give you the best help we need more details about him.  It involves a bit of work on your part, but it's a very important step in giving us the details we need.  You need to fill out a case history on your boy.  To do that, you will need to join our sister group called ECHistroy 8.  Here's a link to that group:  Once you join , and it should not take long to get approved, just follow the directions on the main page to fill out a CH on your boy.  Meanwhile, I will explain our philosophy and why we recommend what we do.  Our philosophy is called DDT+E, which stands for Diagnosis, Diet, Trim and Exercise.  

You already have a Diagnosis of insulin resistance (IR), so that's a great first step!  At the age of 5, I seriously doubt that your gelding has PPID (Cushing's), so stop worrying about that for now.  Whew!  One less thing for your to worry about!  :)  Ok, let me explain. PPID and IR are two completely separate conditions that have some similar and overlying symptoms.  PPID is a benign tumor or hyperplasia in part of the pituitary gland called the pars intermedia.  It is not usually seen under the age of 10, so that is the age we recommend that you also start testing for PPID as well as IR, unless the horse is displaying other symptoms of PPID.  IR is a metabolic type of horse, usually described as easy keepers, with regional adiposity (cresty neck, fat pads in the rump, etc).  Any horse can have just PPID, just IR, or both, or neither of course.  His coat issues could be due to needing to be dewormed or just not having a balanced diet.  If we can't get him straightened out with Diet alone, we can revisit the idea of testing him for PPID.  But for now, lets' concentrate on getting his Diet under control.  

Great that you copied the emergency diet!!  By now, I am guessing that you are in possession of a bag of beet pulp.  I hope you got the other ingredients in the emergency diet--magnesium, Vitamin E, Iodized salt and ground flax seed.  If so, great!  If not, you can get it all at Walmart or the grocery store.  

Has your gelding ever eaten beet pulp before?  If not, it may take him a while to get used to it, as it has a difference "mouth feel."  You only need to feed him one cup (measured dry) and then you need to rinse it really well until the water runs clear and then soak it till it's nice and soft and fluffy, an hour should do it, and then rinse it again really well.  Add the emergency ingredients in the amounts listed in the emergency diet and see what he thinks!  You can actually use the quiessence for the magnesium for now, but in future, you can save your self some cash by using feed grade magnesium oxide.  If he likes it, then you can do it again in the morning!  Most of us feed a bucket feed twice/day with a safe carrier for the supplements.  You can make up enough beet pulp for several days and refrigerate or freeze it in portion size baggies.  If he totally does not take to beet pulp, get back to us.  We have lots of ideas on how to get him eat it and /or other safe carriers.  He does not have to eat beet pulp, but it's a nice low glycemic food to use as a carrier for your supplements.

Additionally, you need to start weighing his hay and feed him either 1.5% of his current weight or 2% of his ideal weight, divided up into several feedings/day.  Do you have any small mesh hay nets (smhn)?  If not, it's a great, and really a necessary investment for an IR horse.  The leptin resistance that accompanies the insulin resistance causes them to not have a "stop eating" signal, so feeding them from a smhn helps to slow down their eating and make their allotted amount of hay last as long as possible.  If he's has never eaten from one, I would suggest one that has 1.5-2" holes.  If he is already used to eating from a smhn, then I LOVE these greedy feeders with 1" holes:   Go to Walmart and get a fish scale to weigh his hay.

In addition to weighing out his hay, until you can get it tested, you will need to start soaking it for an hour in cold water or 30 minutes in hot water.  This can remove up to ~30% of the sugar content.  Yes, fescue hay may not the best choice.  When you order your new hay, try to find Timothy or orchard grass, and see if the hay grower will let you take a sample to send in for testing before making a large purchase.  We aim for less than 10% combined sugar+starch in the diet and 4% or less fat.  The Essentials K is 6% fat and I can't find what the sugar and starch content is as they do not list it.  Many, many, ok MOST bagged feeds, even the ones that claim to be good for IR or metabolically challenged horses, are still too high in sugar and/or starch.  It's also high in iron and since most IR horse are already iron overloaded, and get plenty in their natural diet, we don't want to add any more iron.  Anyway, you need to stop the Essentials K.  The goal is to get your hay tested and then have one of our balancing folks balance the excesses and deficiencies according to what the analysis shows to make a custom diet for your hay.  Here's where we like to send our hay for analysis:  Call them and ask for some "forage kits" (they are free) and then send your sample in for the #603, trainer's package for $54.  I like to send my sample from the grower in for just sugar and starch to make sure it's less than 10% sugar + starch, and then once I know that, I add the rest of the #603 to it so I can balance the minerals.  They keep your hay sample for a period of time so all you have to do it call them and tell them to add the rest.  Once you get your results, you can ask one of the balancing folks to help you to balance it.  The first file in this folder is a list of balancers:    We have lots of members in NC, so maybe someone close to you will chime in here and lend you a hay probe.  If not, check with your local extension office or coop.  They often have hay probes that they will lend out.  Michelle, this is obviously not going to all get done overnight!  Meanwhile, use the emergency diet. 

As important as what you DO feed on the IR diet is what you DON'T feed!  No grain, no pelleted or senior feeds, no pasture (even dead looking grass), no sugary treats (including carrots and apples), no molasses, no brown/red mineral salt blocks--white ones only.  

OK, on to Trim.  Toes backed and heels lowered so that the hoof capsule closely hugs and supports the internal structures of the foot.  It sounds like you are not having any issues with your boy's trim, but we often find that it's not as optimum as it could be.  You are welcome to post pictures of his feet in the PHOTOS section of ECH8 (the group you join to fill out the case history).  Please visit this site first to learn how to take good hoof photos: 

Last part, Exercise.  The best IR buster there is!  A laminitc horse should never be forced to move!!  It sounds like your boy is not having any laminitis issues, so if you can get him on a good solid exercise program, that would be great!!

Ok, Michelle, I am not trying to overwhelm you further!  Yes, you have a lot to do.  Yes, the learning curve here is a little steep.  But with over 12,000 members and so many success stories, we know what works!  So take deep breaths and dig in.  You are already doing great!  Read the files and the website:   Ask any questions you have!  We are here to help you help your boy!

Maggie, Chancey and Spiral in VA
March 2011
EC moderator/Primary Response 

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