Michele Lane

Hi my name is Michele and I have a 9 yr old Q.H. named Mac.My NEW vet says he has been fighting chronic laminatis for years! He has very thin soles 5 mm. His blood test came back high end of normal He is compensated IR and Laminitis risk according to the IR calculator. I have totally changed his diet and pulled his shoes and in 8 weeks he has over doubled his sole growth!  He is not or has never been over weight. Just has not been able to grow a healthy foot. My question is, why are there two ways to measure NSC? WSC + Starch or 100-(water + protein + fat+ash +NDF)? I also want to know what you all think of LMF stage 1.



Michele Lane

All this is confusing....please help

Kerry Isherwood

ECIR measures NSC as ESC plus Starch only.

Sorry i cant add more, literally walking a horse in. Someone will chime in asap, dont worry



---In EquineCushings@..., <noonehorsegal@...> wrote :

 My question is, why are there two ways to measure NSC? WSC + Starch or 100-(water + protein + fat+ash +NDF)? I also want to know what you all think of LMF stage 1.

Hi Michele,

The important numbers for sugar and starch are - ESC plus Starch.  They should total below 10% to be safe and some horses need lower.   Thru the years of study and experience, ecir has found that NSC and WSC are not the numbers to use.  And if you have 2 very similar hays, good quality, etc., and the same "sugar" percentage, choose the one with the lowest starch because starch is "twice as bad" as  esc, so to speak.  Starch converts 100% to glucose and esc just 50% to glucose.

Sounds like you're making a good start with Mac.  And you're in the right place for info.  Have you had a chance to read thru the ecir website?   ECIRHorse.org.  very good overview and info.  

Laura K. Chappie & Beau



Some clarification: ECIR does not consider ESC+starch as NSC (but we know what you mean!).

NSC (nonstructural carbohydrate) is the sum of WSC + starch. 

WSC is the sum of ESC + fructan (somewhat oversimplified).

When dealing with insulin resistance, the concern is, "What carbohydrate fractions stimulate a glycemic response (an increase in glucose and insulin)?" The answer is simple sugar (ESC) and starch - these carbohydrates are digested primarily to glucose (simple sugars) and entirely to glucose (starch). 

We don't have the same concern about fructan because mammals cannot digest fructan. Bacteria in the hindgut ferment fructan and this does not result in an appreciable glycemic response. The evidence to date suggests that the fermentation of fructan by bacteria does not increase insulin.

Therefore, if you consider NSC, you're basically adding fructan + simple sugar + starch and inflating your numbers. For example, if instructed to "keep the NSC of your hay below 10%" you would need to add WSC and starch values together. If the WSC were 15% and the starch 2% the sum would be 17%, You would discard this hay or spend a lot of time soaking it. 

However, if the values were:

ESC = 6%
WSC = 15% (WSC minus ESC = fructan, therefore, 15 - 6 = 11% fructan)
Starch = 2%

...then you can see that the fractions that involve a glycemic response (ESC + starch, 6 + 2 = 8%) are acceptable. 

Since roughly 85% of laminitis is caused by metabolic disease that involves hyperinsulinemia, it makes sense to pay attention to the carbohydrates that induce hyperinsulinemia. 

What is the percentage of documented cases of pasture fructan overload resulting in hind-gut acidosis leading to laminitis, you might ask? Good question! I'm still waiting for that answer.

Kathleen (KFG in KCMO)
Director and Research Advisor, ECIR Inc.
Missouri - USA - Dec 2005


Hi Michele,

Welcome to the group!  It sounds like the changes that you have made to Mac's diet are doing him a world of good!!  To get the best help from the group, we ask that all members fill out a case history on their horse. To fill out a CH you will need to join one of our sister sites called ECHistory8, our "filing cabinet" that we can easily access at any time to help answer your questions.  It should not take long to get approved and then you can just follow the instructions on the main page to fill out a CH on Mac.  Here's a link to ECH8:  https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/echistory8/info  

It seems like you've been doing a lot of reading, and are probably somewhat familiar with our philosophy called DDT/E (Diagnosis, Diet, Trim, Exercise), but just in case, I'll give a quick explanation of it.

Diagnosis:  So you have a Diagnosis of compensated IR.  Age the age of 9, Mac is not likely to also have PPID, but you may consider including an ACTH with your next round of testing.  PPID and IR are two completely separate conditions, but have some similar and overlying symptoms.  PPID is a benign tumor or hyperplasia in part of the pituitary gland called the pars intermedia, usually not seen before the age of 10.  IR is a metabolic type of horse, usually, but not always 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. To get a full Diagnosis of PPID and/or IR, we recommend these four tests:  ACTH, insulin, glucose and leptin levels on a NON-fasting horse, preferably sent to Cornell. 

Diet:  The diet that we recommend is a forage based low sugar starch (tested to be under 10% sugar+starch) low fat (4% or under) mineral balanced diet.  We use grass hay, tested to be under 10% sugar+starch, with minerals added to balance the hay to the analysis and to replace what is lost during the hay curing process, we add Vitamin E and ground flax seed.  Until you get your hay tested we recommend that you use the emergency diet (found here on our website: http://ecirhorse.org/index.php/ddt-overview/ddt-diet)  which involves soaking the hay for an hour in cold water or 30 minutes in hot water to remove up to about 30% of the sugar content.  Make sure you dump the soaking water where the horse(s) can't get to it.  We like to send our hay for analysis to this lab: http://equi-analytical.com/  and ask for the #603, trainers' package for $54.  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.  

I looked at the limited analysis that is provided of the LMF stage 1 and I see they make 2 formulas, one for southwest and one for NW.  At 2% max starch and 6% max sugar, both formulas are within the acceptable range of under 10%.  I see a few things that would give me cause for concern.  The fat is listed as minimum 4% in the NW and 5.2% in the SW formula.  We recommend no more than 4% fat (closest to grass) in the diet.  I also looks like the fat comes from vegetable oil, which has an upside down Omega 3:6 ratio.  We use ground flax seed to replace the Omega's lost when grass is cured into hay because it has the closest ratio of Omega 3:6 as found in grass, about 4:1.  Additionally, there are some ingredients listed in the LMF that are not recommended for IR horses, thiamine, niacin and riboflavin.  More info in this post by Dr Kellon:  https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/EquineCushings/conversations/messages/87630  
It also lists Yucca as an ingredient and we avoid that in IR horses as well.  More info in this "avoid these items" file:  https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/EquineCushings/files/Avoid%20These%20Items%20/   There is also alfalfa listed and we know that some horses get footsore on alfalfa.  Additionally, the LMF is unlikely to balance your hay. Some "safe" (i.e. less than 10% sugar + starch) carriers for your supplements are rinsed/soaked/rinsed beet pulp, dampened Ontario Dehy Timothy Balance cubes (ODTB's), Nuzu Stabul 1.  Lots more discussion about all of those if you do a search of the archived messages.

Trim:   A proper trim is toes backed and heels lowered so that the hoof capsule closely hugs and supports the internal structures of the foot. It's great that Mac is doing so well barefoot!!  We encourage you to post pictures of you his feet in the PHOTOS section of ECH8, so that we can help you to evaluate if he has a the most ideal trim.  Here's a site that shows how too take good hoof photos:  http://www.all-natural-horse-care.com/good-hoof-photos.html 

Exercise:  The best IR buster there is!!  BUT--a laminitic horse should never be forced to move!  If Mac is footsore, boots and pads may be in order to help with pain relief.  

I see that your question about NSC has been answered.  Let us know if you have any more questions.  We ask all members to sign their name, date of joining and general location each time they post.  Also, once you get Mac's CH done, please include a link to it in your signature as well, like in my signature below.  It really helps us to find his CH faster and answer your questions faster!  Thanks!  Keep up the good work, Michele!   

Maggie, Chancey and Spiral in VA

Michele Lane

The hay I just bought is ESC 7 and Starch 2.2! It is a grass blend. No alfalfa. The hay that I was feeding was also low ESC and Starch but was an alfalfa orchard mix and protein was 16. My vet want protein under 12. He actually grew sole on the alfalfa mix so not sure alfalfa is a problem for him. I was feeding way too much sugar (sweet feed, treats,grass) No more of that! He is on 500 mg  isoxsuprine indefinitely... 

Michele L & Mac
Central Cal 

Lorna Cane

Hi Michele,

>He is on 500 mg  isoxsuprine indefinitely... 

Try doing an archive search on Isoxoprine.

Here's a link to one message,which may give you another idea.Folks here  don't find Isoxoprine effective:

Lorna in Ontario,Canada
ECIR Moderator 2002

*See What Works in Equine Nutrition*



Hi Michele,

Great that you already have your hay tested!  And that it's under 10% sugar+starch!  If you post your hay analysis in your CH folder and then contact one of the balancing folks, you can have a custom diet made for your horse!  The list of balancing people is the first file in this folder:  https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/EquineCushings/files/7%20Help%20with%20Mineral%20Balancing/ 

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

Michele Lane

Thanks everyone! You all are great!! I will try to post particulars today...trying to figure out how :)

Michele L
CA 5-15

Michele Lane

I started my file. Do I need to delete my case history to update it?

Michele L

Michele Lane

It would be helpful to know where the people on the long list lived. It would be nice to find someone in your own state to help with balancing your horses diet. Is there a way of doing this? 

Michele L 
Central ca