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News Letter this month

The topic will be mainly concerned with Equine Metabolic Syndrome and its related conditions .How and why does this condition appear to be on the rise? Is it all to do with the changing seasons and warmer temperatures or are we micromanaging our horses to the extent that maybe we are doing more harm than good. Now this is part of a newsletter I have sent out this morning

 Newsletter December 2018


Festive Season Office Holiday dates

Our official  holiday dates:

Friday 21st December through to Monday 7th of January.

However we will be around throughout the Christmas break and statutory holidays so we can process urgent orders during that time.


Some Equine News


It seems that this spring and early summer has brought with it a host of problems at the scale we have not seen before.


I wonder if this is a symptom of micro-managing and hyper-vigilance being promoted by various interest groups and along with confusion regarding the information we may be getting. This is stressful for the owner and horse alike.


Often all that is required is to simply step back, get back to basics and let nature do her thing. I also recommend that while the horse’s system is compromised, to avoid processed and specialty feeds including those that make various claims and often attempt to bypass the natural order of things.

For example feeding separate amino acids as a supplement is not necessary for the average hack and one in light competition because a well functioning gut will break down protein in the plant material they may eat or graze on, into smaller units ie amino acids.

Micronising various grains (barley) to make them more easily assimilated may in fact contribute to some of these problems particularly with respect to NSC and acidosis. This process potentially raises the Glycemic Index (GI) causing spikes in the insulin/glycogen response.

The seed coat consists of  tough fibre for good reason and all that is required, is to break or crush it to  expose the endosperm.  This will be digested in the chemical foregut and later in the biological hindgut. Nature has provided this system to function to perfection. By pass that and problems will arise, particularly in the endocrine system.


Therefore the conditions of greatest concern are those related to the endocrine system and the one that appears to be on the rise is laminitis, (not confined to just your tubby ponies but horses of all breeds). Our observation on the disease pathology is that while the onset of acute laminitis might appear to be sudden and out of the blue, there appears to be a number of common factors that seem to trigger the condition which probably have been incubating quietly for quite some months.


They are as follows:

  • The horse has experienced a sustained period of stress be it illness, pain or a change of home/owner and pasture some months before.
  • The horse has moved from one region to a completely new one with a different environment, climate and pasture mix.
  • The horse has experienced a period of enforced confinement  either through injury or taken off pasture.
  • The owner has been told that the horse has early onset of EMS evidenced by adipose tissue and the horse needs to go on a diet.  While in theory this sounds a sensible thing to do, it can be counter productive as it places additional stress on the horse. This is plainly evidenced as the horse will stand around with its head up with its adrenals activated.
  • Excess cortisol will produce the adipose tissue in the areas that characterize EMS. Crest of the neck, over the dock, around the sheath area. The same applies to humans. Fat deposits around the midriff or just under the bra strap.
  • The horse gets placed in a yard with out permanent access to grass but is allowed soaked hay.  This in turn creates a cortisol feedback loop and ACTH levels rise. The jury is out as to whether hay should be soaked and does it really remove sugars? Remember hard fibre and long strands of cellulose is required to be chewed in the mouth to stimulate saliva which keep optimum pH levels.
  • This causes a change in the digestive process in both the stomach (chemical stage of digestion) and the hind gut (the biological stage). It is in this environment the horse is at risk of developing stomach ulcers.
  • The gut flora is then compromised and there is a proliferation of acid loving microbiology that are specific precursors to laminitis.ie  Lactobacilli Bacilli Streptococci  and Mitsuokella jalaluinii that all generate high levels of lactic acid.
  • With the change in the biome, the horse, when put out to pasture will be even more grass affected and is increasingly sensitive to fructans in grass, potassium levels and so on.
  • In a bid to attempt to restore gut flora, microbiology is introduced (inoculated)  using pre and probiotics. These probiotics are exposed to stomach acid. What is really getting through to the hind gut?


So what is the answer?



It  lies in feeding the gut flora with biologically diverse plant species in particular those with a range of fibres.

You might like to have a look at our Laminitis page  as well as the Cushings  page.

I have also put some information up about changing your pasture to one that will help with EMS and laminitis




For further information on this topic please email us info@hiralabs.co.nz to be added to our newsletter list.

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