Obesity can lead to Equine Metabolic Syndrome, Cushings Disease, Insulin Resistance and Hyperinsulinemia usually resulting in Laminitis.
There is also a condition in horses called Equine Polysaccharide Storage Myopathy (EPSM or PSSM). This is another form of carboy hydrate intolerance that triggers tying up due to a genetic defect causing abnormal glycogen metabolism. These can be treated by limiting sugar and starch uptake and replacing extra need calories with fats.
Horses with any type of metabolic disorder must be managed closely to ensure the intake of sugars and starches are minimized (if not completely eliminated from the diet). By supplying the horse with energy or calories in the form of fat or soluble fiber, ensure blood glucose remains low following a meal.
Treatment to manage the diet for obese horses should
include a defined exercise routine and minimize carbohydrates intake. The goal now should be to maximise fat intake
by providing 20-25% of the daily caloric intake requirement from fat
All grain, sweet feeds including molasses should be eliminated from the diet
and replaced with high quality forages such as Lucerne hayor grass-Lucerne
hay mix diets.
Fat supplements of vegetable
oil or coconut oil can be used. The recommended 500grams of fat to the 500kg or horse can be accomplished with 2
cups of oil mixed with Lucerne cubes or chaff for palatability. These recommendations must be modified
depending on the individual caloric needs of the patient.