Re: Updated Tena and Felix files uploaded for feedback


Hi Tena,

What a great job you've done with Felix!  You've had a heck of a ride with him in the short period of time that you've owned him!  Good for you for hanging in there, Felix is lucky to have found you!

Let's see if I can answer your questions.

Vet seems to think Felix might have EMS, is that related to IR? Would I need to run more tests? Is EMS a disease or metabolism? 

Equine Metabolic Syndrome (EMS) is another term for IR.  No, you don't need to run more tests to diagnose it, but in future labs I would definitely add a glucose.  It will give you better results from the IR calculator and it's also helpful in evaluating if the blood was handled correctly.  More reading about IR on our website here: 

So you have a diagnosis of IR.  EMS (IR) is a metabolic condition that will require careful dietary management for the rest of Felix's life, and adding exercise when he is recovered from the laminitis will go a long way in keeping the IR in check as well.  

Also, to keep in mind going forward is that there is some indication that the oxidative stress in horses with long term IR can contribute to the development of PPID (Cushing's).  PPID is a benign growth in the a part of the pituitary gland called the pars intermedia.  It's controlled by the use of a drug called pergolide.  Fall is a time of year in which all horses have a elevated rise in their ACTH, but PPID horses have an exaggerated and polonged rise in their ACTH which puts them at risk for fall laminitis.  Read more about the seasonal rise here: 

Felix's ACTH in August of 2016 was 53.2 (normal 9-35).  Though 53 is "normal" during the seasonal rise, August is the early part of the rise and this result raises my antennae to be on the watch for early PPID.  His ACTH came down very nicely in his January lab work, which is to be expected since we are approaching the seasonal low time of year when the ACTH is at it's lowest.  The development of PPID is something to keep in your mind as you move forward with Felix.  Some horses, in the early part of the disease, only need pergolide during the seasonal rise.  

You will want to be a keen observer for the subtle symptoms of PPID and also check Felix's ACTH in the early part of the rise every year henceforth.  Read more about PPID and it's symptoms on our website here: 

Since the Insulin numbers looked good, I'm hoping the unsoaked Bermuda has acceptable sugar/starch content.

The only way to know is to test the hay.  Not only is it important to know the sugar and starch content, but IR and PPID horses need tight mineral balancing, and only way to do that is to know what's in you hay.  The Copper Complete is a great supplement, but it may or may not completely balance your hay according to the ratios recommend by Dr Kellon.

Look in this file for ideas on how to find and store low sugar/starch hay:  Scroll down to "Hay--finding and storing pdf"  It's the 12th file down.

I've been supplementing with the Ontario Dehy Timothy Cubes as much as I can afford. Also in my quests to find low sugar/starch foods, the lowest consistent sugars have been in the Mountain Sunrise Alfalfa Pellets, which are steam bound. The Timothy pellets are usually higher, should I switch to the alfalfa pellets as a carrier for Copper Complete?

Are you using the Ontaro Dehy Timothy Balance (ODTB) cubes?  They are guaranteed to be under 10% sugar + starch and are balanced by Dr Kellon.  OD also makes a Timothy cube that is not guaranteed to be under 10% sugar + starch and the minerals are not balanced by Dr Kellon.  The ODTB's are packaged by Triple Crown in the US and are called Triple Crown Naturals Timothy Balance Cubes.  The label stitched into the bottom of the bag is lavender and the bag looks like this: 

Many of us use the ODTB's (moistened) as a carrier for our supplements.  I have fouond that about 1.25 cups of very warm water added to about 2 cups of ODTB's causes them to "dissolve" into a nice sift fluffy mass of finely chopped hay making a perfect supplement carrier.  Some horses like them wetter, some like them drier.  You may need to experiment a bit with the water to cube ratio to see what Felix likes.  If you use the ODTB's for your carrier you don't need the MS alfalfa pellets or timothy pellets.  Since the sugar/starch varies from batch to batch, the only way to know if those are safe is to buy a large amount ant test a batch from several bags with the same lot #.  In the long run, much less time and trouble to use the ODTB's.

I also have a friend with a pasture sound recovered founder horse who swears by Lakin Lites, says her horse didn't begin to recover and be healthy until she switched. I don't like the molasses as a binder, and also have read that alfalfa should be fed in low percentages. But is it harmful to feed small amounts of alfalfa? Is the main concern the iron overload? How do small amounts of Alfalfa negatively affect a horse? All I have read is that some horses have adverse reactions with not much explanation.

I would avoid the Lakin Lite, both for the alfalfa and the molasses. Yes, some horses, especially IR horse do not do well with alfalfa.  Unfortunately, we just do not know why yet.  Here's an article by Dr Kellon for you to read: 

Lots of IR horses are iron overloaded.  That's part of the reason why really tight mineral balancing is important for them.  More reading about iron overload can be found in our Iron Overload files here:  

My farrier has suggested beet pulp, but the numbers I have found state that beet pulp is higher in ESC/starch than the plain alfalfa pellets.

Beet pulp, when properly prepared. is a great low glycemic food to use as a supplement carrier.  It needs to be rinsed, soaked and rinsed again to remove surface contaminants (dirt/iron) and any remaining sugar.  There are a couple of BP analyses in our files here:   Again, though, the ODTB's make a great carrier.  Low sugar starch (under 10% combined) hay should be the mainstay of Felix's diet.  He doesn't need any other feed except a low sugar starch carrier for his supplements (minerals, flax and vitamin E).  

Should I do a hay analysis on a single or a couple different bales, thinking that they are all similar in this region? 

Since the sugar and starch can be so variable, this is not going to be much help to you.  It can help with a "best guess" for mineral balancing, but does not guarantee that the next batch of hay you get will be low in sugar and starch.  The only way to make untested hay safer is to soak it for an hour in cold water or 30 minutes in hot water.  

OK, I think that answers all of your questions.  You can always ask more!  I saw a couple of things in your CH that I want to address as well.

1)  It looks like you have started to turn Felix out on 1/4 acre pasture, but I don't see in your CH if he is in a closed muzzle for that turnout.  The sugar/starch content of grass can be quite high and quite variable.  He should only be turned out, if grass is available, in a closed muzzle.  Anything else is playing Russian roulette!  

2)  I don't see in your CH that Felix is getting any Vitamin E.  Is that correct?  To replace the fragile ingredients that are lost when grass cured into hay, any horse on a hay only diet should be getting 2-4 oz ground flax seed (you've got that covered!) and 1000IU's/500 lbs BW per day of Vitamin E.  Lots of us use the human grade gel caps for this.  Just make sure that oil (usually soy) is listed in the ingredients on the bottle.  Vitamin E needs to be in contact with oil for proper absorption.

3)  I got a chuckle over your comments about treats.  NONE, NEVER, NO, NO, NO.  Horses don't need treats, but we humans feel better giving them, LOL!  We do have some safe treat ideas and recipes in our files if you ever feel the urge or need ideas for training treats. 

You are doing a great job with Felix Tena!  Even if you don't write it up (though that would be great!) your story with Felix is already a success story!

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

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