New Case History/Questions - Jenna and Finnur



I am a new member and just uploaded my case history/photos for my Icelandic horse, Finnur.  I have known for about two years that Finnur shows symptoms of IR, but beyond limiting his grass intake to nearly nothing, I have not followed the recommended protocol for him.  He has always been 100% sound and his weight has stayed fairly consistent over the past two years, so I have not had that “emergency situation” that pushed me to go all in on IR treatment.

Well, the time has come to go all in!  My “halfway efforts” have not led to good results, so I am ready to commit to a clear plan of action to manage his symptoms as best as possible.  He is so young (8 years old) and I want to make sure he has plenty of happy and healthy years ahead of him.  So it’s time to buckle down and dig into the nitty gritty details!

With that said, I have a few questions to get started (I apologize in advance for the wordiness):

1) When I started researching IR early on, I saw recommendations to provide 24/7 access to free choice hay.
  I have been taking this approach with Finnur over the past 2 years – he has unlimited access to hay in slow feed hay nets.  In addition, I have never had my hay tested (and now realize what a big mistake that is!)  Between those two things, there’s a good chance that Finnur has been eating too much hay that is too high in sugar/starch.  I ordered a hay probe and will be testing my next batch of hay within the next few weeks.  My question is: once I verify that my hay is under the 10% guideline, would you recommend that I stop feeding free choice and start weighing out his daily hay allotment?  If so, how do I make the transition from 24/7 access to a set number of feedings per day without upsetting his stomach?  Also, Finnur shares the barn with a large QH.  Any tips on how to make sure Finnur eats only his fair share of hay without having to keep the two horses separated all the time?

2) Finnur’s IR “diagnosis” by the vet has just been based on visual inspection of his weight/fat deposits (primarily his cresty neck and fat behind the shoulders).  She has never suggested bloodwork for him.  At his fall vet visit next month, I would like to request that she actually test him so I know where he stands.  I want to make sure that I request the right tests.  Is it correct that I should ask her to test glucose, insulin, and leptin?  Are there any other details I need to give my vet to make sure I get the correct tests done?

3) Over the past two years, Finnur has suffered from extreme itchiness during the hot summer months.  I believe it is due to “sweet itch”, but wasn’t sure if this itchiness could also be related to his IR symptoms?  I have started giving him 2 oz of ground flax each day and treating the itchy areas with MTG, but it has only offered minor relief.  Do you have any suggestions on what else I can try to relieve his itchiness?  He has rubbed out a large portion of his mane and has rubbed parts of his skin raw on both sides of his neck.

4) I understand that exercise is another super important component of managing IR.  I am a very novice rider, so Finnur gets most of his exercise through groundwork (and even then, it is pretty limited).  I would like to work on increasing his exercise.  We currently do about 15 minutes of walk/trot 3-4 times a week.  Is there a guideline for how much/what type of exercise is effective for weight loss, so I can have a goal in mind and start working up to that amount?


Again, I apologize for my long-winded questions.  Thank you in advance for your help!  I will continue reading all of the great information on this site and will probably be asking more questions soon :)  

August 2018, Cedar Rapids, Iowa
Finnur's Case History:
Finnur's Photo Album:


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