Gathered from The Horse magazine, here's a bit more information about what exactly insulin resistance (IR) is:
Insulin resistance is a reduction in sensitivity to insulin that decreases the ability of glucose to be transported into the body’s cells from the bloodstream. While the body can compensate for a short period of time by increasing insulin production and secretion to maintain normal blood sugar levels, the end result is abnormally high circulating levels of glucose.
It is currently speculated that diet, breed, age, and body condition all contribute to the development of insulin resistance. Specifically, horses over 20 years of age that are either “easy keepers” or obese are more at risk than their younger, leaner counterparts. Horses fed diets high in sugar or starch (e.g., high-concentrate diets) rather than high-fiber/high-fat diets are more likely to be insulin resistant, even if they are not obese.
It should be noted that not all fat horses are insulin resistant, and not all insulin resistant horses are fat.
To diagnosis IR, a quick and easy test to screen for insulin resistance is a blood test that ensures blood glucose and insulin levels. Elevated blood insulin and/or glucose levels are highly suggestive of insulin resistance. In many horses blood glucose levels are within the normal range while the insulin levels are elevated. This is not unexpected as horses can initially compensate for the insulin resistance by increasing the secretion of insulin; hence, the increased circulating insulin levels in the face of normal blood sugar levels. It is only once the body is no longer able to compensate that both the insulin and glucose levels are elevated.
I've been really researching IR and have finally gotten most of my questions answered. I contacted ADM Alliance, the company that makes the feed that Gus is currently on - Patriot Feed Easy 12%. The equine nutritionist/research veterinarian they have on staff stated the 12% has not been tested, but is likely in the ballpark of 16-20% sugar/starch content. That is WAY higher then what Gus needs to be on. Like I've mentioned previously, the total percentage needs to be around 10% (and that includes forage also).
I did hear a little bit back from the vet. She does recommend switching "grain"... to something like Purina's Wellsolve L/S (see: http://www.wellsolveequine.com/WELLSOLVELS/ProductInformationSheet/default.aspx). It's total starch is not more then 7% and the sugars are around 4%. Not sure if I want to go that route... would be easier to have both boys on the same feed. But we'll have to see. Anyways, she's going to be sending me more information (so she says) so we'll have to see what else she recommends.
I did send an email to Gus's barn owner (BO). She replied back that with this. Only edits were to remove names:
I would wonder how much would change if just the large volume of treats alone were withheld- his other diet is the same as N's, who has completly recovered from laminitis and has maintained wonderfully on this diet. The only addition To N's is Quiessence. He gets almost no treats. The interesting thing to me is, except for a small amount-the hay inside and outside came off the same fields and from the same grower. You'll have to show me exactly what bales you pulled samples from. Have you pulled his glucosimine?
We'll need to talk some more on this next time you're out before we change anything.
I was a bit frustrated, to say the least. Gus does not get a large volume of treats. He gets one small treat each evening with his PM supps. True, that treat is a molasses and sweet feed "stud muffin" like treat that I personally make monthly, but that alone should not have caused these issues. There were many factors contributing to the IR diagnosis... Anyways, the treats will be pulled asap as will his glucosamine. Thinking about pulling the MSM because studies have show that it can hinder the reversal of IR, or something along those lines.
The horse "N" is Gus's pasture buddy. He definitely has metabolic issues, and they are supposedly under control, but she doesn't test him regularly, that I'm aware of. And like I've mentioned before, what may work for one horse will not always work for every other horse. All 25+ horses at the barn are on the same feed - Patriot Feed Easy 12%. It's a decent enough feed, but not every horse can tolerate it... and it's become obvious that Gus is one of those. All I want is what's best for Gus. I owe him that. I owe him a lot more, but I do the best I can manage. True, it's not a lot... but I certainly try hard.
That's why both boys will be moving again come May 1st, at the latest. The BF's parents said I could move both boys there... $350 month in the summer months and $425 in the winter months, to cover the cost of increased hay and electricity (for the tank heater). So, overall, I'm pleased that thing will be changing... I'm hoping that the BO and I can come to an agreement in the mean time for Gus. Either no grain or something like that. I can probably get to the barn nearly every day for his supps... and I can feed those with some of Gringo's "grain" as it's very low starch and sugar.
Well see what happens. I'm worried about talking with the BO because I'm afraid she'll keep disagreeing with me on the correct course of action for Gus. This grain that he's on is horrible for him... and that needs to stop pronto. Hmm.