”Insulin Resistance” is a trendy diagnosis made by lay people with regards to their own horses, based on information they glean from the internet. It is suspected as a cause in laminitis and founder, and horses are removed from most or all pasture, depriving them of their natural grazing needs in an attempt to remove sugars from the diet. I believe it is possible that this actually can cause the horse to experience even more stress and thus puts in motion a vicious cycle.Below are some excerpts from an article in The Horse, in which Tia Nelson DVM, discusses her experience in reducing signs of insulin resistance (such as cresty necks) in some horses, simply by improving their hoof form.

As she says, it is important to manage horses’ diets, especially easy keepers, but it can be very helpful to eliminate poor hoof form as a contributing factor. There is more on Insulin Resistance in a study posted on this blog, linked on this page here

Read the whole article here

“People usually don’t recognize that there are only two factors affecting the foot–genetics and environment,” says Nelson (Tia Nelson, DVM, a farrier and veterinarian from Helena, Mont). “The footing, the farrier, the food the horse eats, the ability to utilize the nutrients in the food, etc., are all part of the environment. These things are intertwined, and it can be hard to separate them.”

She says some of her cases looked like they were insulin-resistant (with cresty necks, prone to founder, etc.), but weren’t. When she was able to get their feet comfortable so they could get regular exercise, their glucose and insulin levels came down and their feet got better–without medical treatment.

“Fixing the mechanical cause of pain in feet that led to stress–that raised their cortisol(a “stress hormone”) levels–resolved their problems,” she explains. “When a horse gets painful feet, the cortisol levels go up, probably due to the stress and the ulcers that develop due to the stress. Stress hormone levels go up in any horse that’s in pain. If his feet are out of balance and the stress on them starts to lead to founder, he’ll be in pain.

“There are some horses, however, that are truly insulin-resistant,” Nelson says. “It is our job to learn how to balance feet and get the horse comfortable again and to run bloodwork to check for these things”.