Metabolic Horses


Since Bonnie was diagnosed with Insulin Resistance I have been doing so much reading and studying. I thought I would share a few things I’ve learned.

Bonnie can not have fresh green grass. At all. If green grass grows in the dry lot then I have to lock her into a smaller dry lot where I can control those stray bits of green that stubbornly want to grow. (Why the green grass won’t grow in the yard where I actually WANT it to grow is beyond me!) One of the reasons I went ahead and built my Track System in my dry lot is because of the amount of green grass that insisted on growing in there last year. I’m hoping that because they have been trampling and tearing up the ground on the track, the grass won’t be able to grow there. I can already see green shoots trying to come up in the middle of my track. I will be adding a lower hot wire to my inner fence system to keep Mr. Zorro from reaching under the hot wire. He doesn’t mind that the hot fence snaps and pops along the top of his mane as long as he can eat that bit of green! I am also going to roach his mane this year which will also help.

Bonnie can be out in the pasture at the end of the summer when the grass is tall and dry, IF she has her muzzle on. I’ve had my pastures tested and the only time it is safe is in the late summer, in the late afternoon around 3. From maybe 3-5 pm. This is the opposite of everywhere else I have lived! She can be out there because I know the sugar/starches are low then AND she doesn’t yet know how to use her muzzle. She “pretend” grazes. I call it this because she looks very busy, moving her head and mouth, as though she is eating, but she isn’t getting any grass. I will go out and push some grass through the little hole for her once in awhile… this is what I did for her in the  photo above.

Bonnie has an averse reaction when the weather changes. If we are unseasonably warm, she seems sore. If we suddenly drop from 50 degrees to negative numbers she is nearly unable to walk. As I understand it metabolic horses often have very poor circulation in their legs and hooves. This is why when they are laminitic or foundering, they will not have heat in their feet or a bounding pulse and why icing their feet doesn’t help with the pain they feel. In fact it can make it even worse. The only time I iced Bonnie’s feet last year was when it was really hot and she was sweating and uncomfortable. Then I offered her a large tub of ice water and she stood in that tub until the ice melted, but she wasn’t lame then either. I think they cool water just felt good because she was hot! Now that the weather is changing so quickly and dramatically Bonnie is wearing wool socks. They are kids wool socks so they are nice and snug. She doesn’t mess with them so maybe she knows they help! I also apply essential oils to her feet to encourage circulation. Today I put Deep Relief and Valor on her feet. She is wearing her easyboot minis. If I have to put on a double layer of socks then she wears her Soft Ride boots.


Bonnie is very sensitive when I have to make changes to her diet. So far I can change the supplements a bit and that doesn’t seem to make her worse, but when I’ve tried a different type of hard feed or had to make a change in hay she became laminitic. So I have to do these things slowly so she can adjust.

One HUGE thing on her side is she doesn’t mind being locked in the smaller dry lot area, even though she is in there alone. Her small dry lot is inside the track system so the other horses are right there, but she doesn’t stress about this. She also doesn’t mind wearing her muzzle when things dry up some and she can be out in the pasture for short times during the day. Mostly for exercise as she hasn’t mastered the art of eating grass through the small hole in the muzzle. She doesn’t like to eat soaked or wet hay so that’s a problem and means I have to know exactly what is in my hay and what the starches and sugars are before I can offer it to her.

When I had my other IR pony, Chloe, she had similar issues, but reacted differently to the stresses of the life an IR pony must lead… living in a dry lot, wearing a muzzle, eating soaked hay, etc. She would stress so much that she refused to eat when in the dry lot. She would go for days and just stand in the corner of the small dry lot I made for her. She made me so worried. She wouldn’t even eat her hard feed when she was depressed like this. And every time she would rebel this way she would become acutely laminitic. The vet I was working with at the time said this is the hardest type of IR pony to manage as you have to balance their mental and physical health which is impossible when they are sure they should live like a horse and be allowed out in the pasture. She ended up foundering on all 4 feet with rotation and sinkage. It was awful. Her first founder episode happened in the dry lot due to stress. So I had to let her out. She had one thing in her favor and that is that she would eat the HEIRO. I do believe it was the HEIRO that kept her alive for those last 3 months. Once she went down and couldn’t get up I had to make the decision to let her go.

This isn’t my first go at this, but I do hope and pray it’s a much more successful go!

Bonnie has been struggling so much these last few weeks. I could tell the Thyro-L wasn’t really helping anymore so I went digging for more. More information. I have been studying a better way to trim her feet and I dug into that a bit more. I tried some new things to help her with her pain. Then friend of mine shared For Love of the Horse. She was hoping they carried an herbal formula that a friend of her was having success with and it turned out they didn’t, but I had already spent the day reading their website and corresponding with one of their wonderful office people, so I decided to ask them for help. Dr. Thomas was willing to work with me to help Bonnie. So I ordered her first round of EMS/IR Solution and have started her on that. To order the EMS/IR and the Hoof Ailment formula was too expensive all at one time so I have to spread things out a bit, but I am praying this works for Bonnie. I can’t bare to see her in such pain all the time, it takes such a toll on her. She loses the light in her eyes and she just stays in one place all the time. I also think she is losing her eye sight so some days are just too overwhelming for her… and me.

At this time I am slowly weaning Bonnie off of the Thyro-L. Dr. Thomas said to go from 1 teaspoon a day to 1/2 a teaspoon for three days and then 1/4 teaspoon for four days and she should be fine without. Thank goodness as juggling the Thyro-L and the EMS/IR solution is tricky. She can’t have the solution and Thyro-L at the same time so I have to spread out her breakfast and then her first dosage of the solution.

Right now I am giving Bonnie 4 scoops (1 scoop = 1/2 Tablespoon) two times a day until she starts to have some relief. Then I can lower it to 3 scoops twice a day. When I get the Hoof Ailment she is to get 4 scoops twice a day until her feet feel better and then I can lower her to 3 scoops twice a day. At first I am mixing the formula in a bit of warm water and giving it to her with a syringe which has already proven hilarious as she managed to get it all over herself, Zorro and Sky and Zorro tried to take off with the syringe! LOL! What a group I have!

Something that happens often with horses that have foundered is they develop abscesses which can make them as lame and sore as the founder or laminitis did. I do suspect this may also be going on with Bonnie. The Hoof Ailment solution is formulated to help with abscesses as well. I believe her immune system is also effected and of course her liver is stressed. I am interested in also starting her on their Liver Support. When I had her fecal done last year there was tape worm larvae found, but I couldn’t worm her because the chemicals in the wormer could send her into a laminitic attack. So I’m hoping to get her healthy enough that I can deal with her worm load and have her teeth worked on, all without any adverse reactions.

Metabolic issues in horses are not simple. There is no quick fix and just when you think you have things figured out they will show you that in fact you know nothing. It’s a bit like living on a roller coaster. It’s a time full of frustration and heart ache. I do feel like this is Bonnie’s last chance at beating this. How long can someone expect a horse to live in pain, battling every day just to get by? When does it become about me and not about her? When is enough, enough? These are questions that wake me in the middle of the night. These are the questions that are constantly on my mind. So say a prayer or keep her in your thoughts as we try this next option! There are many great testimonials on their website… maybe we can be one of them!


  1. Victoria Roucken

    Hello Mindy One question I loved the site “For Love of the Horse.” But, if HEIRO worked very well with Chloe, why would you not use it on Bonnie? Just curious. Thanks for the reading Victoria Dushore,Pa

    1. LadybugFarm

      No problem! I’ve written about that before. Bonnie will NOT TOUCH anything with cinnamon in it. I tried and tried to get her to eat the HEIRO but she would not. When I put it in a syringe she flipped herself over backward to avoid eating it. It was then that I decided it wasn’t worth the fight!! So not all horses like the taste. I do warn people of that when they try it. After all what is the point of feeding it if you have to feed so much grain or something that’s bad for them just to get them to eat it… not that hiding in her feed worked. It didn’t matter how little I gave her if she smelled that cinnamon she would just walk away from her grain pan.

  2. liveinthelightofourlord

    I have mini’s who occasionally have pain, but hardly at all since I’ve been giving them chromium yeast, magnesium, vitamin E/Selenium and, lately, a mixture of chopped peanuts, pumpkin seeds, and almonds, all mixed into their low starch pellets. Sometimes those “proprietory blends” that they sell for a small fortune aren’t what they’re short of. If HEIRO worked, maybe look at the ingredients, and use the other products without the cinnamon. I can give you more details on amounts, where to get them, etc. if you want to write me @

    1. LadybugFarm

      If this was occasionally or just a bit of pain that would be one thing, but this has been pretty much constant with a couple of weeks here and there where she is moving more. NEVER sound. I have tried mixing my own herbs from the list of ingredients of the HEIRO, to no avail. I do feel I have done everything imaginable for this poor mare. This feels like her last chance.

      It does seem like many people have had luck with HEIRO, or their horse was cured by Remission or they solved everything by adding magnesium, yeast, vitamin e. Sigh. none of these things have made a difference for Bonnie. She was the most improved with the Thyro-L but that was short lived. When one of her triggers is weather changes it makes figuring this out that much more difficult. I WISH it was only diet related.

      I’m hoping For Love of the Horse can help her at a cellular level, fixing her from the inside instead of just putting a bandaide on the problem as the Thyro-L did. Though I do think if her case was only diet related the Thyro-L would have been enough.

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