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Body changes in IR horse after switch to low carb?

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  • Body changes in IR horse after switch to low carb?

    My 19 year old retired horse has some of the symptoms of IR--a bit extra fat storage in neck and butt, slightly ribby, plus increase in water intake--but nothing terribly drastic. My vet and I decided to start him on WellSolve L/C feed and see what results we get. Two weeks after we began he has developed a significant dip in his neck right in front of his withers. In a search I found another poster who saw this change but there wasn't any comment on it.

    In addition to the Wellsolve 2#/2x a day he's getting 14-16 hours a day on high quality mostly fescue pasture and a flake or two of orchard grass while up. This spring before he was moved home he was very overweight (not obese but close) on no grain and a clover/orchard/timothy pasture 24/7. He dropped weight extremely fast once he came home (possibly stress and depressed because of loss of pasture mate) as he was not very interested in grazing. I didn't notice the IR body type symptoms until he lost weight and they became more obvious. He perked up attitude wise in about 6 weeks and has been his normal self for the last 4-5 months before we started the L/C diet.

    What to think about this overnight change in his neck with the dip in the withers?

  • #2
    Wouldn't you see that as the unwanted IR fat deposits disappeared? If he isn't being worked, that part of his neck is probably not developed.



    • Original Poster

      Originally posted by 3Spots View Post
      Wouldn't you see that as the unwanted IR fat deposits disappeared?
      The fat deposit was evenly distributed over his crest. Wouldn't normal fat loss not be so site specific, but instead happen more evenly?


      • #4
        Originally posted by subk View Post
        The fat deposit was evenly distributed over his crest. Wouldn't normal fat loss not be so site specific, but instead happen more evenly?
        No. It could have also been a food allergy you were dealing with. I pulled my horses off soy last year to see what would happen. Only two went through significant changes but one of them began losing fat in patches. Her whole body was lumpy as she lost these bizarre pockets of fat or water weight. She finally evened out in 3 weeks and looked amazing.


        • #5
          It's normal. Your horse must have been very edemic and full of adipose fat pads tho' for it to be so.. obvious. Good on you for changing things around.

          Now that he is losing the fat, you will probably notice that he has had muscle wasting. Add better quality protein and an amino acid supplement to help w/that.
          "Kindness is free" ~ Eurofoal
          The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances.


          • #6
            I noticed this effect in my mare when I muzzled her this summer - I feed TC Lite, and hay. After muzzling, and adding quiessence for Mg, her previously slightly fatty crest deflated, and she now has a slight dip in front of the withers. No worries!


            • #7
              Some of them normally have that dip there. It's just their conformation (how the neck ties in to the chest). Unless he looks skinny everywhere I would not think that losing condition there is a bad thing.

              If he's not being worked and is sound to do some work, then try to get him back in an exercise program. With proper work and adequate good-quality protein, that dip should fill back in with muscle.


              • Original Poster

                Originally posted by Hampton Bay View Post
                Some of them normally have that dip there. It's just their conformation (how the neck ties in to the chest).
                It's not conformation. He's a retire UL eventer I've had since he was four.


                • #9
                  The dip in front of the withers is a diagnostic feature of metabolic syndrome. Yes it shows up better when the horse is closer to normal weight.

                  Some pictures for you:

                  The chestnut pony with the dip in the neck had chronic laminitis, even at a good overall body weight.
                  Are you feeding your horse like a cow? www.safergrass.org


                  • #10
                    The dip in front of the withers is a pretty classic sign, it may just be you are able to see it more easily now. I'm curious to see if anyone thinks the Wellsolve would have a direct link to that developing. I'll try to remember to ask hubby. Sounds like you have taken steps to get everything under control.
                    Blogging about daily life on the retirement farm: http://paradigmfarms.blogspot.com/
                    Paradigm Farms on Facebook


                    • #11
                      The dip in front of the withers.. is from muscle wasting. Completely reversible. Certainly should not be a fixture of IR horses.

                      People usually cannot see the muscle wasting under the adipose fat pads and edema. Once those are gone, the muscle wasting is revealed.

                      Anytime you have muscle wasting you can have this happen.. the horse doesn't need to be IR for this to happen either. I certainly would never consider the dip to be a diagnostic for IR.
                      "Kindness is free" ~ Eurofoal
                      The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances.


                      • #12
                        Oh my gosh this thread just opened my eyes!! I have a horse with the same issues!!! Weird dip in front of his withers (just like in the photo in the link someone provided) lumpy butt and chest (I always thought cellulite and he was on the overweight side!) a lump on the tail head, raingutter down his back, cresty neck, HUGE fat pockets above his eyes, stretched white line with seedy toe, RIBS RIBS RIBS that have been driving me crazy! I have had his teeth floated, power pack and regular rotational worming, high fat feeds with oil, beet pulp and alfalfa added, vet didn't mention IR when I always ask him about his ribs (says that is how he's built! So has everyone else at the barn said that, except Stefffic (coth) she said he looked IR) Those pictures are my Nate!!

                        I am INSTANTLY changing his feed and diet, I just called my hubby and talked to Stefffic. Wow!! I feel so horrible!!! I've had him for 3 years!!!! But my vet looked at him several times, in fact told me once to back off the feed as he was becoming obese, but the ribs drove me CRAZY! I don't like ribs, no horse here has ribs (except the TB, and they are so slight, only when he twists a certain way I see them, and it drives me nuts too).

                        Wow. I feel so bad for my boy!! His diet changes TONIGHT!!
                        I want a signature but I have nothing original to say except: "STHU and RIDE!!!

                        Wonderful COTHER's I've met: belleellis, stefffic, snkstacres and janedoe726.


                        • #13
                          I'm with EqTrainer on this one. The dip is due to muscle wastage, and some horses have the conformation to show it more than others (if the neck ties in low on a horse with high withers, it can be more obvious). My mare had a pretty bad dip when she was lactating just due to her filly dragging her down. You have to look at the dip in conjunction with the rest of the horse. If the horse is thin all over due to inadequate protein and improper work, I would not jump to IR. If the horse has fat pads all over but a dip in front of the neck, IR would be more likely.

                          I also don't consider a bit of rib to be a bad thing, especially on a very round horse. Some of them just shouldn't be fat enough to cover the ribs.


                          • #14
                            If I post some pictures could you give me your opinion?

                            I am getting him new feed today, but I am taking him off grain for a month and giving him beet pulp and alfalfa per my friend who has a IR horse, she said that should get some of the carbs (I guess it's carbs) out of his system. I am also calling my vet. Hubby and I are a bit surprised he never mentioned it and we've had him look at Nate for his weird body shape 3 times. And he does look weird, the back top of his butt is too big, ribs can be seen from the top to the bottom, but NO topline, has a raingutter down his back, seedy toe and tenderness to walk after eating Spring grass, the cellulite on his chest and butt, the HUGE eyes (vet even commented he had the biggest eyes of any horse he's ever seen) and that strange dip in his neck, a perfect 'U", I used to say he was bit by a shark.

                            I don't have many pictures showing his ribbiness as I've always felt I was doing something wrong and I was embarrassed for him and for me, even though I was throwing food at him, he just got fatter in the fatty areas but the ribs remained. And in the spring when he sheds he has these long, long hairs here and there that wont let go, I thought they were what I heard were "guard" hairs because the horse was wormy! I would power pack worm him and they would STILL be there, I usually end up hitting them with the clippers, it's not a lot of hairs, and their spread out.

                            Also had his teeth floated twice, no difference, they both said his teeth were actually fine.

                            He is also a PROFUSE sweater, is this also a symtom?

                            I know you can't diagnose from pictures, the vet will have to run tests, but maybe now, FINALLY, I am on the right tract with this sweet old man.
                            I want a signature but I have nothing original to say except: "STHU and RIDE!!!

                            Wonderful COTHER's I've met: belleellis, stefffic, snkstacres and janedoe726.


                            • #15
                              PROFUSE sweating, is this also a symptom?
                              I want a signature but I have nothing original to say except: "STHU and RIDE!!!

                              Wonderful COTHER's I've met: belleellis, stefffic, snkstacres and janedoe726.


                              • #16
                                Originally posted by Chardavej View Post
                                PROFUSE sweating, is this also a symptom?

                                Profuse sweating is often an indicator of tying-up. The good thing is that the IR diet works well for muscle disorders. Great article on muscle issues and diet:



                                • #17
                                  I want a signature but I have nothing original to say except: "STHU and RIDE!!!

                                  Wonderful COTHER's I've met: belleellis, stefffic, snkstacres and janedoe726.