Mineral Balancing - Scarlet and Little Red (2nd Posting)



I joined in November 2012 and am posting for the first time.

My two 10-year-old BLM-adopted Mustang mares (Scarlet and Little Red) were visually diagnosed as insulin resistant late last summer/fall, when Scarlet experienced an episode of laminitis.

I have adopted a modified Emergency diet - not soaking hay but using small mesh hay nets. The horses have 24/7 access to pasture, but after a two-week spell of snow cover ceased grazing. I am using a small amount of Nutrena Empower Balance as a mineral carrier. (R/S/R beet pulp did not work given limited facilities and the need to keep things simple for backup when I am traveling.) I have removed red salt blocks. The fat pads over Scarlet's eyes have diminished, and they both seem to be less hungry. Weight is only slightly lower.

I would appreciate help with the following:

1. Balancing minerals in hay and water. I think that our unfiltered well water is high in iron.

2. Confirmation (or correction) that I do not need to soak hay.

3. Scarlet has a fairly reactive personality that seems to have calmed a little on the Emergency diet. Does this indicate a recovery from oxidative stress, and if so, is there anything else that I should be doing for this?

4. We did not do blood tests when the vet was here in the fall due to the seasonal rise… and in fact, drawing blood may not be possible due to the horses' fear of veterinarians and needles. If I am able to have blood drawn, what tests are recommended?

I have posted case histories, hay analysis and (limited) water analysis on ECH6.

Thank you for your help. (and my apologies if I have broken protocol by posting twice - I think that my first posting went into Yahoo limbo.)

Diane, Scarlet and Little Red
Upstate NY
Nov 2012


I joined in November 2012 and am posting for the first time.  My two 10-year-old BLM-adopted Mustang mares (Scarlet and Little Red) were visually diagnosed as insulin resistant late last summer/fall, when Scarlet experienced an episode of laminitis.

Hi Diane,

Welcome!  Sorry we missed you the first time around.  Good to repost if you don't hear back within a couple of days.  Great that you got your CH's done on both of your horses!  And great job on your signature--thanks for the link!  Looks like you've been doing some reading already, but I will give you the details of this group's philosophy and answer your questions.  The groups' philosophy is DDT+E.  That's Diagnosis, Diet, Trim and Exercise.


Diagnosis:  Both of your mares are approaching 10 years of this year, which is when we really start to get concerned about PPID.  It's not unheard off under 10, just not as common as in horses over 10.  The reason that making the diagnosis is so important is that the treatment for insulin resistance (IR) and PPID (Cushing's) is different, IR being treated with DIET, and PPID being treated with medicine(pergolide), and a combination diagnosis of IR and PPID treated with both diet and pergolide.  You state in your CH that they both have an aversion to needles.  How do you sedate them to do their feet?  Could you get labs drawn while they are sedated for that?  The labs we recommend to make the correct diagnosis are ACTH, insulin, glucose and leptin sent to Cornell.  The labs require special handling, so have a read here for the details:  http://ecirhorse.org/index.php/ddt-overview/ddt-diagnosis   There's LOTS of great information on that site, so more reading :)


Diet:  I see that you have your hay analysis and the sugar + starch is great at 3.5+1.1=4.6, so no you do not need to soak! The Nutrena Empower Balance has 8%starch and 6%sugar, so that's not a safe feed for IR horses.  There are some other safer feeds that you can use as a carrier or taste temper.  One is Ontario Dehy Timothy Balance cubes (ODTB's).  You can add warm water to them to fluff them up and then add your minerals. You can also prepare r/s/r beet pulp in larger quantities and store in little baggies in your freezer for your sitter's use when you are traveling.  Are you adding the emergency minerals?  They are:

Iodized salt - 1 to 2 oz. a day (approximately 1 to 2 heaping Tablespoons,

Magnesium 1.5 grams/day per 500 lbs body weight,

Vitamin E 1000 IU/day per 500 lbs body weight (human supplement may be easiest, i.e. soft gel caps added to beet pulp)  and 

2-4 oz fresh ground flax seed or use stabilized flax

You should be using these until one of the hay gurus can balance your hay for you.  Have you tried to contact anyone yet to do that?  There's a list of members that do the balancing in the files.  Look here: http://pets.groups.yahoo.com/group/EquineCushings/files/7%20Help%20with%20Mineral%20Balancing/   It's the 4th file down.  Great that you already got your water analyzed.  They can take that into consideration when doing your balancing. 

You should not be letting them graze, snow or no snow.  The occasional peanut is OK, but no apples, carrots or sugary treats.  The ODTB's make great treats too! You removed the red salt blocks. We recommend that you provide plain white ones in addition to the loose salt that you add to their carrier.

Trim:  This is an extremely important part of the program and often the last thing to fall into place.  A proper trim is toes backed and heels lowered so that the hoof casule closely hugs the coffin bone. You mentioned in Little Red's CH that she doesn't "self trim" any longer.  Domestic horses RARELY get enough exercise to self trim, like the wild mustangs do.  If you can join ECHoof, one of our sister sites, you can post pictures of Little Red's and Scarlet's feet and one of the hoof gurus can take a look and see if you have a proper trim in place. Once you join, look for the file on how to take good hoof pics.

Exercise:  The BEST IR buster there is!  But a laminitic horse should never be forced to move.  If they are able, you can hand walk in long straight lines with no tight turns.  It takes committment too hand walk them, or work them in the round pen (if they are able) everyday, but if they are "pasture ornaments" like stated in your CH, they are not getting enough exercise to help beat IR!

You'll surely have lots more questions as you make this transition to a new way to manage your horses.  Just ask!  We are here to help you help them! 

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

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Mandy Woods

Hi Diane,
Welcome to the group. The list philosophy is DDT/E.

DIAGNOSIS is by bloodwork. To confirm Cushings aka PPID, you would need an eACTH test. Cushings is controlled by the drug pergolide. To confirm IR ~ you need Insulin/Glucose/Leptin on a NON fasting horse with the samples sent to Cornell. You will know how severely IR the girls are. IR is managed by DIET.

DIET is low sugar/starch forage with minerals balanced to its assay. The minerals for this Diet can be purchased at Walmart or any drugstore. Get Vitamin E natural and feed her 2000ius a day. Get the gel cap that has soy oil in it. It’s a very low amount. This vitamin is excellent for oxidative stress. Then add magnesium, Freshly ground flax and loose iodized table salt. The recipe is in the Start Here file. Pull her off pasture no matter how deep the snow is. Horses paw the snow away to get to the tasty sweet roots. You don’t know how much or little sugar she gets that could make her foot sore That can be a critical factor. We've had horses turn around in days. You can double the smhn's to really slow her eating down thus reducing the chance of an insulin spike. Feed at least 4 meals a day. Yes, your water could be high iron. Send a sample to www.dairyone.com I’m pretty sure they test water too.

TRIM is a balanced foot with toes backed from the top and heels lowered. Boots/pads if foot sore.
EXERCISE is a great way to reduce IR. Let the mares tell you what they can handle. Handwalking is great - long straight lines - sweeping curves so you don’t put any pressure on the walls. No pivoting. Never force a laminitic horse to move. They'll tell you what they can handle.

Diane, IF you ordered the Trainer at EA # 603 you don’t need to soak your hay. If you paid for any other test (601) I would do it over. There could be a big difference in the results.

I would blood test both mares for IR but you can manage that by DIET balancing!

There is a file with a list of ladies that help with balancing. I cant think of the name right now but maybe one of them will email you.

Thank you for being so up to date with your signature and testing! IT is appreciated!

Mandy in VA
EC Primary Response
OCT 2003

capnmrgn2000 <capnmrgn2000@...>

1. Balancing minerals in hay and water. I think that our unfiltered well water is high in iron.

2. Confirmation (or correction) that I do not need to soak hay.
HI Diane,
I can take a look at it for you if no one else has offered. You don't need to soak the hay!
CHeryl and Ollie in MA
Jan. 2004
EC list support