It is no surprise that weight loss has important health benefits for fat horse and ponies, but now there’s proof that conscientious owners really can help reduce the risks posed by obesity.

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A study of horses with equine metabolic syndrome (EMS) showed that weight loss, managed by their owners at home, reduced both insulin resistance and susceptibility to laminitis.

Previous clinical studies have identified that calorie restriction and increased exercise are the mainstays of EMS treatment. But in the field there is always potential for poor owner compliance, which has historically made it difficult to monitor effects of owner-managed weight loss accurately. The new study, published in the Equine Veterinary Journal (EVJ) has shown that owners of ponies with equine metabolic syndrome were able, with veterinary support, to implement highly effective weight loss programs and, thus, improve insulin sensitivity and reduce the risk of laminitis.

The study is one of the topics in this month’s EVJ  podcast, aimed at helping vets to help their clients. The other topic on the podcast compares the benefits of oral glucose and sugar tests as effective and convenient ways for vets to monitor insulin sensitivity in the field, further helping home management of weight-related risks.

Equine metabolic syndrome is a complex condition, defined by clinical consensus as obesity, insulin resistance and an increased susceptibility to laminitis. Insulin resistance or dysregulation is the underlying symptom, probably un