Doctors and nutritionists have talking a lot about sugar lately and its effect on humans. Not too surprising, the animal world is starting to wonder the same thing. We used to not think twice about giving our horses a scoop of sweet feed and sending them on their ways. Now as we see the results of too much sugar, we are looking at healthier options for our horses (as well as us humans!)
Too much sugar in your horses feed can lead to a few problems. The most common include the following: issues with digestion, exacerbation of medical conditions, insulin resistance, laminitis and even colic. These problems can affect even the healthiest horses.
So where are our horses getting this sugar? Most of us don’t feed sweet feed and we still have to worry about insulin resistance and founder. According to Colorado State University, “Typically, grain and concentrate type of rations are higher in sugar and starch than forages. When horses are on a ration or diet that has a high sugar and starch content, it can have dramatic effects on the digestive physiology such as:”
With more horses being boarded and less lush pasture available, nutrients from roughage are more difficult to come by. If your horse does not have access to roughage such as pasture, smaller meals are recommended. If your horse gets most of his nutrients from grain, look for lower sugar and starch options.