Return to Website

Ask the Nutritionist: Dr. Getty's Forum for Equine Nutrition

   Welcome to my forum. 

Here you will find more than 6 years of questions and my answers. It is searchable and offers a great deal of information. 

Currently, I am discontinuing new questions. This may change in the future, but in the meantime, please know that It has been a true pleasure serving you. 

Take a look at my Nutrition Library and Tips of the Month for a variety of answers on selected topics. Be sure to sign up for my monthly e-newsletter, Forage for Thought

I also have a growing number of recordings on "Teleseminars on Nutrition Topics that Concern You" as well as the new, Spotlight on Equine Nutrition Series -- printed versions of favorite teleseminars.

And finally, look for my articles in a variety of local publications and online newsletters, as well as the Horse Journal, where I am the Contributing Nutrition Editor.  


All the best,

 Dr. Getty 


Ask the Nutritionist: Dr. Getty's Forum for Equine Nutrition
This Forum is Locked
Pony is getting "fat on air"

Hello! We have an 8 yo Sect. A Welsh who is "taping" at about 600 lbs. We've had him for 3 years.

He's on about 6 lbs of hay--orchard grass and brome a day plus Remission. About 4 weeks ago I started him on the proper dose of Sunshine Plus from blue Seal (ration balancer, feed 1 lb per 1000 lbs.)Plus Ration plus. He's on grass pasture 6-8 hours a day. Nothing overly lush--overseeded with Rye or a local pasture mix.

He simply looks FAT. Mostly carrying weight behind the rider's leg, though overall he's chubby. No "apple butt", tail head seems normal. His crest is floppy, not firm. This came on quick though--2nd or 3rd week of Aug he was really came on quick and I can't seem to get a grip on it.

He does have a sibling who has tested positive for "Pre Cushings". (I'm not exactly sure what tests were done, etc...that's how his breeder communicated it.)

2 years ago we pulled at T4 panel and he was normal. He also has the WETTEST stall of any pony our trainer has ever known! I take as much out of his stall as my 1000 draft gelding.

He's my daughters hunter pony an is worked approx 4 times a week, approx 45 mins. each time. It's a mix of walk, trot, tons of cantering, jumping, trail riding with LOTS of hills.

Keeping him in, penned in a dry lot or with a muzzle does make him cranky--he'll chew wood, terrorize other horses, etc.

Do you have any suggestions? Tests to run, food to try? What am I missing?

Thanks, in advance!


Where are you from? Pocono mts PS

How did you locate this forum? google search?

Re: Pony is getting "fat on air"

Hi Melissa,

Thank you for writing about your pony. Ponies are genetically predisposed to insulin resistance and even Cushings. So, they need a low starch/low sugar diet. It sounds like you are doing this. But, I would definitely add a magnesium/chromium supplement to his diet to reduce circulating insulin levels, known as Quiessence.

Grazing Muzzles can be very stressful for many horses and it sounds like your pony is no exception. Stress causes the release of cortisol (which is already high in the cushings horse), which further aggravates insulin resistance. And, so, you defeat your purpose, because the result of this hormonal imbalance is more fat storage. It can also lead to laminitis due to elevated insulin levels.

So, your first approach should be Quiessence, at a dose of one ounce per 250 lbs.

Since your pasture has rye (a cereal grain) be sure it does not go to seed. This will significantly increase starch levels, which are inappropriate for him.

Also, avoid any sugary treats such as carrots or apples. Skode's treats are an excellent alternative for horses that need to watch their sugar and starch intake.

I congratulate you on his exercise program. That is very important.

I hope this is helpful. If you notice any other Cushing's symptoms such as a change in his hair coat, where it is kinky and will not shed properly, consider Balance EQ, in addition to Quiessence.

All the best,

Dr. Getty

Where are you from? Bayfield, CO