Any relation to the Elephant Man?

Ok, so we know the Elephant Man suffered from one, or possibly several, diseases (wiki wasn’t 100% clear on this), but those (presumed) fat deposits on the horse totally reminded us of him. (Are we going to hell for that thought?)

Most likely scenario is that this poor horse suffers from Equine Metabolic Syndrome (EMS). Which, in this case, we can equate it to the Fat Fairy getting drunk and literally pouring fat dust onto specific and random parts of this poor horse (normally the fat fairy would sprinkle fat dust from afar to affect the whole of the horse – clearly).

Ok, ok, back to reality, if you insist.  EMS is a disease that is largely still under scrutiny, not much is known about it. What we do know (at least according to wiki, which we all know can be wrong from time to time) is that EMS is linked to insulin resistance – along the lines of type II diabetes (you think what you want, we’re sticking with the Fat Fairy).  It is also sometimes referred to as Peripheral Cushing’s Disease, because many of the symptoms are similar.  With EMS however, there is no pituatary disfunction and cortisol levels are normal.  Seeing as not much is known about this disease there obviously isn’t a cure.  But, similar to HYPP, it too can be managed through diet and exercise.  More information on it can be found here.

Ponies are especially prone to EMS, but if can also affect other breeds. Some others to watch include Morgans, Spanish breeds, Mustangs, Peruian Pasos and Paso Finos. Notice a theme here? That’s right! They’re all breeds that are stereotyped as “easy keepers”.

We found this poor guy on the Horse Gossip forums.

This one is courtesy of Pia’s Parade blog.

A note to the care givers of the above horses: extra grain does NOT equal love!  Preventing founder-like symptoms does!  If your horses could speak and understand what was happening to them, don’t you think they’d chose a little less food over the indescribable pain of having their leg bones literally sink into the eroding tissue of their hooves (founder being the rotation and/or sinking of the pedal bone)?  Everyone seems to recognize that a skinny horse is not a healthy horse, but there are many, many health issues associated with having a chunky horse too.

PS. The Fat Fairy frequently visits me, Dressage Empress but is woefully afraid of Jumper Girl; she runs. Join me in secretly hating her, won’t you?


Posted on November 11, 2011, in Conformation, horse, Misc Horsies and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

  1. My easy-keeper Quarab was showing some symptoms but I would never let him get to this point. I pulled him off of grain completely because he never needed it, I just had a crazy barn manager who gave it to him anyway. Now he is at a new barn and has 24/7 hay and a vit/min supplement and is doing much better. I researched this a lot a while ago and one thing suggested to help manage it is a magnesium/chromium supplement like Quiessence. Luckily my horse doesn’t appear to need any additional help. He’s got a huge hay belly but there’s not that much that I can do about that lol.

  2. Hrm. I think poor Tonka Toy has EMS. Diet and exercise did not work and after the really bad snow storm, he foundered *badly*. (I did some research and discovered that horses that are ‘easy keepers’ and potential laminitis risks are more likely to founder after severe winter storms…possibly stress?). As in, we almost lost him badly.

    He’s now healthy, sound and in good weight, but *extreme* caloric restriction was the only way to get him there…soaked hay and water diet, NO grazing, NO grain, NO treats. I do feel sorry for him when he sees somebody else get a piece of carrot and turns on the Pony Pathetics, but it seems to be the only way.

    The problem is that these northern European ponies (Morgans, I suspect, carry the same genetics…whether or not Justin Morgan was a Welsh Cob, there is a great similarity between the two breeds and I suspect a lot of the early foundation stock were cobs) have evolved to handle extreme caloric restriction. They belong on the top of a mountain struggling to find a few blades of grass amongst the gorse. It’s possible that what we call EMS is a positive adaption to lack of food…that these horses actually utilize calories *too* efficiently…and then when they are given what ‘should’ be sufficient food, they turn into balloon ponies.

    So, yes, diet and exercise, but sometimes the diet has to be *extreme* to solve the problem. You have to simulate the conditions these horses come from…where they would have to work hard to earn not much food.

    • “Pony Pathetics” – I like that 😉 it’s so true too. But it’s great that you love and care for your pony enough to limit his diet as required. In the long run it really is the best thing you can do for him – aside from going all Mountain Man with your pony and living on the side of a cliff with only mountain goats for company! Do they build Starbucks’ on the sides of moutains? If not then I doubt I could make that kind of sacrifice!

      • Oh, he’s not my pony, although I have a great video of me trying to game him from several years back lying around somewhere ;). (Trying as in…well, we won through no fault of mine).

  3. Those are awful! Poor horses! I have to be careful with my Haflinger, because that breed is prone to founder and they are very easy keepers. She does not get any grain and will be on restricted pasture once the spring hits. She is on a magnesium supplement, as well.

  4. Those poor, poor horses… So many people think more food=love. And not just with horses, with dogs, cats, their own kids… It pisses me off to no end…

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