NEVER starve a horse to accelerate weight loss. Horses that are fed too little or too infrequently produce a number of stress hormones. These hormones slow down metabolism, halt weight loss and cause digestive and/or intestinal problems.
Always use slow feeders and keep the bags full with low sugar hay. Do not allow an overweight horse to run out of food even for an hour. The key to effective weight loss is frequent, small nibbles. Some horses will eat as fast and as much as they can for the first two weeks or more; once they realize that there is always food available they begin to relax, their food consumption slows down and their stress hormones decrease.
Exercise an overweight horse 2-3 times weekly for 30-60 minutes or more. This can include riding, hand-walking/trotting, ponying, liberty work and/or horse-play. After three weeks of regular exercise, the number of insulin receptors will quadruple. Insulin receptors lower blood sugar by increasing the transport of sugars from the blood into the muscles and liver for storage. Exercise also increases the metabolism including the resting metabolism meaning that the horses will burn more calories even when they are just “hanging out”.
Ensure that the hay you feed has been tested for sugars and starches. Non-structural carbohydrates (NSC’s) should be less than 12%. See “The Numbers on Hay” article for more information. If necessary you can reduce the NSC’s by soaking hay for 30-45 minutes. Don’t soak for longer than this and feed the hay immediately after soaking. Soaking hay, however, is not a long-term solution. Any hay that has to be permanently soaked is not an appropriate hay for a metabolic horse.
Give the Blood Sugar Formula – one dose (5-10 sprays) daily for 14-21 days. This is a homeopathic combination formulated to maintain blood sugar levels, regulate insulin, decrease appetite, reduce sugar cravings and encourage weight loss.
Use Pro-Colon probiotics – ¼ tsp daily. Adequate probiotic levels are necessary in the hindgut to improve fermentation of fibre, balance the eco-system, improve nutrient absorption and strengthen the intestinal immune system.
Insulin resistant or overweight horses may have a sluggish thyroid and/or pituitary gland which prevents them from losing weight. The thyroid and pituitary play significant roles in metabolism and weight loss. Use the Hormone Boost Herbal Blend – ¼ cup daily – to support these glands and their production of hormones. This will also help with hair coat changes and slow shedding.
Many overweight and/or insulin resistant horses have developed a leaky gut from the excess fermentation of sugars and starches in the hindgut. This results in an unhealthy mix of acids, toxins, bacteria and yeast which eventually damage the colon membranes causing excess permeability. Through here the toxins and bacteria migrate into the rest of the body adversely affecting organ function, mental health, respiratory health, skin health, metabolism, laminitis and/or the immune system. To cleanse a leaky gut combine the Pro-Colon probiotic with the Pro-Dygest Herbal Blend.
Marijke van de Water, B.Sc., DHMS
Health & Nutrition Specialist
Medical Intuitive & Healer
Author & Educator
Healing Horses: Their Way
Healing People: The Marijke Method