Excerpt from Easy Keeper: Making it Easy to Keep Him Healthy
As we’ve seen, reducing inflammation is a critical component of weight management. The most basic thing to grasp is that antioxidants reduce inflammation. (See Appendix B.) Antioxidants include such things as vitamin E, vitamin C, and beta carotene (which is found in plants
and which horses use to make vitamin A). These vitamins are not found in hay. They are found in fresh healthy grass, but once the grass is cut and dried and stored to make hay, the hay is dead, and it starts to lose those antioxidants which are destroyed by oxygen during and
after the curing (drying) process. Therefore a hay diet needs to be supplemented with antioxidants. There are a number of commercial supplements that include those antioxidant ingredients.
Omega-3 fatty acids also reduce inflammation and ground flaxseeds are among the best sources of omega-3s; other supplements include it as well.
Supplements such as magnesium, chromium, and psyllium are also very helpful. For magnesium, I suggest offering 5000 mg/250 pounds of body weight, and for chromium between 1-2 mg/250 pounds of body weight.
As for psyllium, this is a relatively new kid on the block. A very interesting study was published recently demonstrating how psyllium lowers circulating glucose, which lowers circulating insulin. We usually think of using psyllium husks in terms of sand colic, with psyllium
provided seven days out of the month as a preventive. In cases of insulin resistance, it’s best to give your horse about a third of a cup of psyllium per meal, which, for my international readers, is approximately 70 ml per meal, and that’s every day. (By “meal” I mean a feeding
that is in addition to the normal hay and/or pasture you’re providing.)
Foods to avoid
Avoid foods with more omega-6 fatty acids than omega-3s because omega-6s actually increase inflammation; oils that are high in omega-6s are soybean, vegetable, corn, and hemp seed oil. And avoid iron; too much iron increases insulin resistance. Many supplements contain
iron, yet forage is typically quite high in it, so the horse is already getting enough. Avoid sweet feeds, too. In fact, avoid feeding anything that contains cereal grains like oats or corn or barley; these are starchy feeds, and starch and sugars (molasses is a classic example) become
digested down to glucose and when glucose gets into the bloodstream, it causes insulin to rise–and now you know the rest of the process: When insulin goes up, body fat goes up as well.