Are Peppermints Spoiling My Horse’s Diet?

Will giving my horse peppermints offset the hard work we’re doing to help her lose weight?

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Are Peppermints Spoiling My Horse
Although you should decrease sugars and calories from an overweight horse's diet, a few peppermints a day aren't likely to negate your efforts. | Photo: Alexandra Beckstett/The Horse

Q.I have an extremely easy keeper who, after a summer spent grazing lush grass, gained a ton of weight and is now obese—I’d guess a body condition score of 8 (on a scale of 1 to 9). She’s now living on a drylot and getting more exercise to bring her weight down, and the vet suggested we soak her hay to reduce some of its sugars. I still give her five or six peppermints a day out of habit and wondered if that’s offsetting all the hard work we’re doing to help her lose weight.

Elise, Tomball, Texas

A.Soaking hay is an excellent way to decrease sugars and calories in your horse’s hay. Research has shown that soaking hay for 16 hours at 8° Celcius (46.4° Fahrenheit) reduces the hay’s water-soluble carbohydrates (WSC, or simple sugars) by 27% (Longland et al., 2011)

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Written by:

Shannon Pratt-Phillips, PhD, received her Master of Science from the University of Kentucky and her Doctor of Philosophy from the University of Guelph, focusing on equine nutrition and exercise physiology. Pratt-Phillips joined the faculty at North Carolina State University in 2006, where she currently teaches equine nutrition in the Department of Animal Science. She is the director of the Distance Education Animal Science Programs, which includes the Master of Animal Science program, and her field of research focuses on glucose metabolism, insulin resistance, obesity, and laminitis prevention and management in horses.

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