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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep. 8, 2008

    Default IR newbie - advice needed for recently diagnosed horse.

    Hi all, I got the results of my 8 year old Cleveland bay geldings *insulin resistance test today. *He is a 40.99 and the high range of the normal range is 40. *
    Please talk me off my ledge! *
    The vet feels that he is positive for insulin resistance. *Unfortunately, she did not offer any real advice. *Only telling me that there are many supplements out there, I should watch his sugar intake, and plan on testing every 6 months to monitor his progress. I have no experience with this so I need very specific advice on my next steps.
    Those with experience in IR please offer advice. *I have cut his grain by a third and plan to schedule more time to talk with the vet tomorrow.*
    The barn currently feeds a nice Timothy/alf hay... Will that be too rich? T/o can be in a paddock but he sure will miss having friends! *Has a muzzle worked well enough that the ir horse can still go out to pasture some times??
    Any advice is greatly appreciated!! **

  2. #2


    A muzzle has allowed mine to go out to pasture. Do some research on your grain. You're going to get lots of advice to cut that or switch to another brand. What brand are you feeding now or is it a custom mix for your barn?

    Chances are pretty good you'll want to get rid of that alfalfa. Some horses tolerate it but most don't with an IR diagnosis.

    He'll have to be managed but he'll be fine! Did you get glucose tested also? This time of year is crash season for IR & Cushings horses. What made you test in the first place?
    "Concern for animals is a matter of taking the side of the weak against the strong, something the best people have always done." Harriet Beecher Stowe 1811-1896

    Ponies are cool!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr. 11, 2007
    Middle Tennessee


    First, I am so sorry. Management of the disease is a liftime effort; it is essentially the same thing as Type II diabetes in a human.

    Second, this is an excellent website to get educated and there is also a link to join the Yahoo Equine cushings site, which is free to joint.

    Third, I have one IR horse and one with EMS (equine metabolic syndrome), which is slightly different from IR but requires the same type of maintenance for the rest of the horse's life.

    Diet is crucial - get rid of the grain - all of it -- don't even take a transition period. There are complete feeds that are made for IR horses, there are ration balancers; beet pulp, rice bran.

    Beet pulp and rice bran will need supplemented with a good vit/min supplement. Most of them use soy as protein source, which is a no-no for most metabolic horses. LinPro from Foxden and EquiPride from SweetPro are both soy-free.

    Some metabolic horses do ok on a bit of alfalfa, some do not. My 12 year old does not; my 24 yr old does.

    I feed a quality mixed grass hay and add timothy/alfalfa cubes to the 24 yr old's supplements.

    Grazing muzzles are fantastic from the standpoint that they really do hold down the amount of grass a horse eats.

    It has taken since last year because he gained weight over the winter (I hayed him too heavy) but I can now feel the ribs on my 12 year old if I press lightly.

    The 24 yr old went the opposite - his metabolic issues caused him to lose weight but I still have to keep a grazing muzzle on him to control the sugar intake or his insulin will spike horribly. I can see his ribs when he turns, if the sun is hitting him just right.

    I can't say enough good about these grazing muzzles. They are cheap, they have been beat to death every day since last April, and the nostril holes are big enough that my Walking Horses don't have trouble breathing in them.

    Beat to death includes being scrubbed with a brush in hot water and Dawn dish soap every night, so they are squeaky clean for the next day.

    Hoof management is very crucial. Both of mine are barefoot. When I had a Trimmer, they were done every five weeks. I took the trimming back, for a few reasons, and since my hands now have arthritis and I don't trust myself with knippers, I trim every three weeks so all I have to do is rasp.

    IR lives in the gray area and can be an ever-changing disease to manage because it involves the metabolism, therefore frustrating. It isn't like a black and white injury or abscess and you know precisely what you're dealing with.

    I have changed my 24 yr old's diet 4 times since 2007 and the 12 yr old's once since he was diagnosed in 2010.

    I also keep a fly mask on these guys about 9 months out of the year not only for flies but because I worry their eyes might be light sensitive from changes in their system.

    While the younger horse has not developed skin allergies, the older horse did, so I have him on 12,000 IU daily of people Vitamin E; I start cutting that back to around 4,000 IU daily once our weather cools down and stays that way.

    That should get your eyes twirlin and I am sure others will come in with what works for their horses because, again, each horse is different and it may be trial and error for awhile for you.

    One thing is for sure -- no grain, no apples, no carrots, no sugar treats.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Sep. 8, 2008


    EL... We tested because he is such an easy keeper and started to get a bit of a cresty neck during this past summer. We have had lots of rain up here in the NE so the grass has been unbelievable this year! I hope we caught it and are able to regulate him.

    Another question - is the type of thing that gets worse over time... Or with proper mgmt. can I prevent it from getting worse?

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Nov. 4, 2003
    Douglasville, Georgia


    Managed properly and diligently, it can be controlled and leveled.

    I have an I.R. Percheron. Dry lot 9 months out of the year, since I could not risk her getting the muzzle off while I wasn't there. Hay is fed out of a small-mesh net to slow down consumption. No alfalfa.... Fescue hay only, since for us in the South, it's the lowest in sugars.

    Feed = BOSS, Plain/molasses-free beet pulp and EquiPride

    The EquiPride has made my life the easiest since it meets her nutritional needs but is sugar-free, very very low in NSCs and soy free. She gets just 1 cup a day in with her BP. I don't have to agonize over every bite this way.

    You've caught it early.... tis a good thing.
    <>< Sorrow Looks Back. Worry Looks Around. Faith Looks Up! -- Being negative only makes a difficult journey more difficult. You may be given a cactus, but you don't have to sit on it.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec. 13, 1999
    Greensboro, NC


    You might manage this, since it's *just* outside the high end of normal, with just a muzzle while on grass, always. I WOULD be feeding a magnesium supplement like Quiessence. I WOULD make sure whatever concentrates he gets are low in sugar. What grain is he on? You have to make sure you don't sacrifice nutrition for the sake of cutting calories.

    You might need to either soak his hay (blech) or make sure you feed only tested low sugar hay. I wouldn't panic about that yet IF you have the option of muzzling on grass for now.
    The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Sep. 25, 2005
    The Land of the Frozen

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