Hay Question

Karen Turek

I'm totally new to the group and don't even know if my horse is IR or pre-cushings.  She is exercise intolerant and has been anhydrosis (some days worse then others and is a lot better with her sweating issue when given magnesium) 

 I've been thinking she has PSSM but her test for PSSM1 came back negative and I am waiting on the results for PSSM2.  But the more I read about IR and cushings I beginning to question if that might be the problem.  I plan to have her tested for these if the PSSM2 test is negative.

So anyway my question....

Is hay with the following dry matter test results appropriate for a horse that could possibly have IR or cushings?  I think the sugar level is good but is the protein too high?

Protein    15.8%

WSC        11.2%

ESC            6.7%

Starch           .5%

NFC             15.4%

Calcium           .49%

Magnesium    .27%

RFV                112


Hi, Drumrunner,  and welcome to the list.

I myself would be concerned that the protein is a little high for an IR horse; also, it might be worthwhile to run nitrates on the hay, to make sure the crude protein level is not due to nitrates in the hay.  The ESC and starch are just fine; if the protein level doesn't make your horse footsore, and it is not due to nitrates, then the hay is okay.

To be double sure we are answering your questions correctly, we need a little more information. Please take a few minutes and join EC History 8:


Follow the instructions to download a case history template; then fill it out, save it to your computer, and upload it into the EC History 8 files section (make a folder, first, with your name on it)

The list philosophy is Diagnosis, Diet, Trim, and Exercise.

Diagnosis is  by blood tests: blood should be pulled from a non-fasting horse (or pony) in a quiet barn; blood spun, separated, and frozen or chilled asap, then sent to the lab at Cornell on ice. Ask for insulin, glucose, leptin and ACTH (ACTH is to check for Cushings or PPID - please ask for it if your horse is 9 years or older)

More information here:


and here:


Diet is supremely important, in some ways more for what is not fed: no pasture, sweet feeds, oats/grain, carrots, apples, iron-containing supplements.  Diet consists of grass hay or haylage, with ESC (soluble sugars) and starch of less than 10%, plus minerals balanced to the forage, plus vitamin E, salt, and flaxseed or flaxseed oil.  One can use a carrier of beet pulp (rinsed, soaked, and rinsed) as a safe feed to get the supplements in.   The Temporary Emergency Diet uses hay soaked for 1 hour in cold water, or 30 minutes in hot water, with the water drained where the horses can't get at it; plus vitamin E, salt, and ground flaxseed in a safe carrier such as beet pulp (rinsed, soaked, rinsed).  More info on Temporary Emergency Diet here:


Trim:  This is a trim physiologically balanced to the internal shape of the coffin bone, with short toe and low heels.  Trim is often a neglected or mis-understood piece of the puzzle.

Exercise: This is the best EMS buster there is, but only if the pony/horse is comfortable and non-laminitic.  A horse that has suffered laminitis needs a good 6 to 9 months of correct hoof re-growth before any kind of serious exercise can begin.

There is also a ton of good information on the ecirhorse.org website.

Give us a little more information; ask any and all questions.

Jaini (BVSc),Merlin,Maggie,Gypsy
BC 09
ECIR mod/support


---In EquineCushings@..., <drumrunner7@...> wrote :

I'm totally new to the group and don't even know if my horse is IR or pre-cushings.  She is exercise intolerant and has been anhydrosis (some days worse then others and is a lot better with her sweating issue when given magnesium) .........

Karen Turek

Thank You Jaini

I will work on the case history and hope to get it posted in the next few days.  it's LOOOONG! 

So I'm confused about the sugar.   I thought it was NSC (which is WSC and Starch combined) that is what needs to be looked at for sugar, but your email referenced ESC?? 

I also have some hay with the following dry matter percentages.  I've been soaking this hay because I thought the sugar was way too high based on what I've been reading on the PSSM Forum page.  I just bought the high protein hay last weekend because I thought this hay with the WSC at 13.7 was way bad for my horse. 

Protein    8.7

WSC    13.7

 ESC       6.9

Starch     1.1

NFC        21.1

RFV          97

Is this hay with the WSC at 13.7 bad for a PSSM horse but in fact good for a IR/Cushings horse?

Karen Turek

Ooops I forgot to sign the post.



It's going to take me a little bit to figure this group out.  There is a lot to it!