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Equine Syndrome X: What You Need to Know About This Growing Epidemic

Horses Eating

Equine Metabolic Syndrome (EMS) is a condition in horses that features abnormal fat distribution and elevated insulin levels.

Horses with EMS typically show some or all of the following symptoms:

Insulin regulates sugar and energy metabolism in the body. High fasting levels of the hormone indicate a condition of insulin resistance in which the body is not responding to the insulin being produced. This leads to metabolic issues, which leads to diabetes in humans. In horses, elevated insulin levels seem to create inflammatory and circulatory disorders.

Equine veterinarians are seeing an ever-increasing number of horses with EMS, similar to the epidemic of obesity and diabetes in humans.

According to Richard Tully, DVM, writing for Veterinary Practice News:

“Without a doubt, exercise and diet modification play a central role in the management of EMS. I use this treatment wherever possible. Unfortunately, this practice doesn’t fit many situations.

Whether due to lameness, a challenging barn environment, inactivity due to cold weather or something else, diet and exercise are often not enough. With more and more animals being diagnosed with EMS, finding other management tools is becoming a priority for the veterinarian, trainer and owner alike.”

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