Many of you may recognize this handsome face. He is the horse on the Vermont Blend label. His name is Chances Solid Gold, "Chance", and in 2004 he led me to the Equine Cushing’s and Insulin Resistance Group, (ECIR).
I was offered the opportunity to have my hay tested through Alltech's 37+ Mycotoxin Analysis. This is the most broad spectrum test available and being the nutrition nerd that I am, jumped at this opportunity.
Certain horses do best on low sugar (ESC) & starch grains / concentrates, such as those with metabolic concerns, ulcers, PSSM etc. Horses with metabolic conditions should strive for feeds with combined sugar and starch under 10%. For these horses, owners turn to feed companies to help provide them with safe options. Almost every grain company offers a low sugar and starch option. Some may market them as “Low Carb”, “Low Starch”, or simply “Safe”. Can owners rely on the information printed on the front of these bags? The sad answer is No.
The Journal of Equine Veterinary Science just published a review article titled “The Dietary Components and Feeding Management as Options to Offset Digestive Disturbances in Horses”. I know not everyone enjoys diving head first into a seven page study like I do, so I thought I’d give you the Cliff Note version.
Managing a horse with a metabolic disorder is a lifetime dedication. Like a child having a peanut allergy, it will always be something you need to be cautious of. There is no such thing as a safe pasture for horses with metabolic disorders. However, there are strategies to reduce the risk.