OBJECTIVE To quantify insulin sensitivity and monitor glucose, insulin, and lipid concentrations in a group of moderately insulin-resistant horses during induction of obesity by use of a forage diet supplemented with fat and during subsequent turnout to pasture.
ANIMALS 9 adult Standardbred mares (11 to 20 years old).
PROCEDURES Weight gain of horses was induced during 22 weeks by use of a forage diet supplemented with fat fed in gradually increasing amounts, followed by feeding of that fat-supplemented diet at 2.5 times the daily maintenance requirements. Horses were then turned out to pasture. Insulin sensitivity was measured with the euglycemic hyperinsulinemic clamp method before and after weight gain and after 4 weeks at pasture. Body weight, body condition score, and cresty neck score as well as fasting and postprandial concentrations of plasma insulin, plasma glucose, serum triglyceride, and serum nonesterified fatty acids were measured during the study.
RESULTS Body weight typically increased by 10%, and body condition score (scale, 1 to 9) increased by > 1.5 from the start to the end of the weight-gain period. There was no difference in insulin sensitivity or metabolic clearance rate of insulin during the weight-gain period. Four weeks at pasture generally improved insulin sensitivity and metabolic clearance rate of insulin by 54% and 32%, respectively, but there was no change in body weight or body condition score.
CONCLUSIONS AND CLINICAL RELEVANCE Findings indicated that dietary composition played a more important role than did short-term weight gain on alterations in insulin sensitivity of horses.