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.

In their study, de Laat and her fellow researchers examined the effects of oral glucose (dextrose, also called D-glucose) on eight mixed-breed ponies. They dissolved the powder in water and combined it with wheat bran and lucerne chaff fed in the early morning. Then, they collected blood samples at 90 minutes, two hours, three hours, and 24 hours after the ponies ate the glucose. The researchers performed this same test on three different oc