Researchers Evaluate Field Glucose Test in Ponies

Researchers hope the test will help them predict laminitis risk based on ponies’ insulin responses to food.

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Because of their morphology and metabolism, ponies are at particular risk of developing insulin-based laminitis. To help prevent the onset of this debilitating and sometimes deadly disease, owners can have their ponies’ insulin levels checked.

But current basal glucose (sugar) and insulin level testing often doesn’t show intermittent fluctuations (or dysregulations) in insulin levels during feeding, which can also trigger laminitic episodes. That’s why Australian researchers have looked into a new “oral” glucose test that can be mixed in with a pony’s feed ration. If it gives reliable results, it could be a vital tool on pony farms for keeping laminitis at bay. And good news: It does.

“This study suggests that it should be fine to do the test in the field and have reliable results,” said Melody de Laat, PhD, of the Science and Engineering Faculty at Queensland University of Technology, in Brisbane, Australia. There are several oral glucose tests available, however, and the more precise tests will give the most accurate results.

“Of course, you might need to repeat the test a year or two later if things change for your horse or pony,” she added

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Passionate about horses and science from the time she was riding her first Shetland Pony in Texas, Christa Lesté-Lasserre writes about scientific research that contributes to a better understanding of all equids. After undergrad studies in science, journalism, and literature, she received a master’s degree in creative writing. Now based in France, she aims to present the most fascinating aspect of equine science: the story it creates. Follow Lesté-Lasserre on Twitter @christalestelas.

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