Insulin Resistance in horses – what is it?

What is insulin resistance in horses?Insulin resistance

Insulin resistance in horses, or IR for short, is the failure of tissues to respond appropriately to insulin. A hormone secreted by the pancreas, insulin is released when blood sugar (glucose) is high—such as after eating—to stimulate the uptake of glucose by tissues and maintain proper levels of glucose in the body. When tissues do not respond appropriately to insulin the pancreas secretes even more, leading to elevated levels of insulin in the blood or hyperinsulinemia. Together, IR and hyperinsulinemia are referred to as “insulin dysregulation,” which simply means an excessive insulin response to blood sugar.

What can be done about it?

IR or insulin resistance doesn’t really cause observable signs in and of itself, but as a component of Equine Metabolic Syndrome and a complication of Cushing’s, it can lead to serious issues such as obesity and laminitis. The first step is getting a diagnosis, which can be easily and accurately done right where the horse lives with a simple blood test done by your veterinarian. The Oral Sugar Test only requires the veterinarian to draw blood twice, 30 minutes apart, in the morning after limited hay (and no grain). If blood levels of insulin (and glucose) are high, the vet may wish to perform further diagnostic tests to get to the root of the problem.

What else do I need to know about insulin resistance in horses?

Once a horse is diagnosed with either Equine Metabolic Syndrome or Cushing’s, the vet will work with the owner to develop a treatment plan which may include prescription medication, dietary management  or a feed change, recommendations for turnout/exercise, and the use of supplements. Vitamin E and other antioxidants are necessary for the oxidative stress associated with both these disorders while chromium, magnesium, and other ingredients support proper insulin function.


Janneke Hofstra is een dochter van een van de oprichters van Bioactri B.V, het moederbedrijf van Balanstri en Effektri. Naast een studie in communicatie en diverse commerciële functies is Janneke sinds 2013 onderdeel van het bedrijf en heeft ze Balanstri opgezet en de product-range verbreed met andere veterinaire voedersupplementen, alles op basis van omega-3 visolie aangevuld met antioxidanten uit olijfolie.

Recente berichten

Omega-3 visolie voor paarden – alles wat je moet weten!

Lees meer
Kurkuma voor paarden: Een natuurlijke boost voor de gezondheid van je paard

Lees meer
Chondroitine voor honden, wat zijn de voordelen?

Chondroïtine voor honden. Wat zijn de voordelen en waarom is het zo'n populair supplement voor...

Lees meer