Feeding the Insulin Resistant and Cushings Horse

The little darling above is good example of a pony with PPID, also known as Cushings Disease. He doesn’t belong to me, yet I couldn’t help but notice him as I travelled past this farm in the middle of the summer, resting two legs.

The inability to shed his winter coat, although not the only symptom for Cushings, certainly stands out doesn’t it!

The other horse we are going to discuss on this page is the Insulin Resistant horse which, although not a disease, refers to those horses who cannot tolerate diets high in carbohydrates. Some people refer to these horses as “easy keepers”. Others call them “the one in the Jenny Craig” pen. Whatever name or nickname you wish to attach to them please know that these horses have special dietary needs. A lot of these horses suffer at the hands of people that do not understand what is wrong with them. I see them in paddocks with small amounts of straw being given to them in an effort to make them lose weight. Other’s are left in pastures with short stunted stressed grass. These owners unknowing have placed them in the worst possible location thinking that the short limiting grass will cause them to lose weight. This is not helpful to these horses and is inaccurate understanding of what healthy grass really is.

Some of the worst things you can do is starve these poor horses or give them feed sources which unknowingly are high in sugar and starch. We have all seen these horses at some point of our equine love life. The first thing that will stand out is fat deposits. Here is a picture of another horse I spotted while travelling around the countryside.

Now for the good news! The great thing about horses with Cushing Disease and/or Insulin Resistance is that there are so many fabulous resources a person can access in order to become more educated.

When I look back, I remember one of my very first horses, Honey. I wish that I knew then what I know now. The internet can be a powerful tool – Use it!

I personally can’t help but notice that there are so many horses, currently in pastures and paddocks that could benefit from their owners having a better understanding of what is going on with their health. My hope it that as the horse world becomes more educated more people will know about the symptoms and management/treatment for Cushings and IR and it won’t take a crisis in the horses health to find out what is wrong with them. So much can be prevented with proper management and understanding.

So if you came across our site searching for answers to “why is my horse so fat on so little grass” or “why won’t my horse shed his winter coat” we hope that we are able to point you in the right direction. If you don’t see an answer to your query please contact us and we will do our best to help you out.

Now that said, there is really no need for me to write an article on the “Feeding of IR and/or Cushings Horses” when there are so many fabulous and well educated people who have already done the work. I am going to share with you my personal favourites. The following links represent my on-line resources I discovered along my journey to understanding my horses health problems. I am sure that they will be of assistance to you as well.

First on my list of favourites is Dr. Eleanor Kellon. I cannot say enough about all the incredible work she has done. I personally have completed several of her on-line courses and if you want to really dig deep into the topic of Equine Nutrition and the specific requirements for IR/Cushings horses please take the time to review the following:


Her blog at:


http://ecirhorse.org (Dr. Kellon is the advisor to this non-profit site)