Horse owners often search for a magic feedstuff that will enable horses to go farther, run faster, be healthier, and move sounder. Often, a variety of oral supplements are added to the diet, with unknown results. Some feed additives can cause more harm than good, or, at the very least, put a large hole in your wallet. In many cases, performance improvements are best accomplished with conditioning, training, and stable management rather than through some oral potion given in the feed. Yet, that being said, dietary management can work like magic for specific equine diseases.

Muscular, joint, intestinal, and metabolic problems can be created by a horse’s intake of inappropriate or imbalanced nutrition. These same problems can be solved with proper dietary management. With careful consideration of how best to feed, there might be a simple solution at hand that relies only on inexpensive modifications to your horse’s nutritional routine.

Equine Metabolic Syndrome

One disease that has come into the spotlight in recent years is equine metabolic syndrome (EMS). In most cases, a horse with EMS is obese due to breed predisposition, body type, and management considerations such as overfeeding and restricted exercise. Because fat stores in abdominal locations do not just store fat, but also exert hormonal effects, these horses are often insulin resistant and prone to laminitis.

The most logical and effective means to prevent and/or manage obese horses is with exercise; dietary controls are second. Philip Johnson, BVSc, MS, Dipl. ACVIM, MRCVS, and colleagues Nat Messer, DVM, Dipl. ABVP, and V. K. Ganjam, BVSc, PhD, at the University o