Alfalfa Hay/Gleeming Coats with Dapples

Larks Tabatha

Hello... My friend, with a Cushings horse, just emailed me the following after talking with a new acquaintance that she felt was a knowledgeable horse person:   "I didn't realize that the new research has
decided that insulin resistant horses should have alfalfa, rather than grass hay.  She said the same goes for Cushings...." 
I am hoping you all will help me respond to her comments.  I did read Dr. Kellon's article in the files about the high glucose content in Alfalfa hay.

On another subject, I am also curious if this group would consider it a good thing for an IR horse to have a super shiny coat with dapples.  Does this indicate that their diet is well balanced and that they are in good health... or not necessarily?

Thanks very much,

Sally in N. AZ

April 2013

Kerry Isherwood

I can definitely vouch for not relying on dapples as an indicator of IR/PPID health: my heavy, drafty mare always has gorgeous dapples even during her worst insulin crises. My svelte IR gelding is always much leaner than the typical obese IR body-type and sports dapples much of the year. And while I'd like to believe dapples are a badge of honor owing to my exemplary husbandry, in reality im just flailing in the dark like all the rest of us anxious IR/PPID horsekeeppers.

Dappled in NY,

Eleanor Kellon, VMD

As far as I know there is no research saying IR/PPID horses should be fed alfalfa.  Anyone claiming that should be asked to produce the research.

Apples and shine are good but no guarantee that the diet is balanced.

Eleanor in PA
EC Co-owner
Feb 2001