Objective—To determine the metabolic phenotype of a group of laminitis-prone ponies when at pasture in summer, compared with when at pasture in winter.
Animals—40 ponies of various breeds predisposed to recurrent pasture-associated laminitis and 40 unaffected control ponies.
Procedures—Body condition score and size of the crest of the neck were assessed, blood samples obtained, and blood pressure measured by use of an indirect oscillometric technique, while ponies were kept on winter pasture (last week of November or beginning of December) and again on summer pasture (June). Serum insulin concentration and plasma glucose, triglyceride, uric acid, and ACTH concentrations were measured. Insulin sensitivity was calculated with proxies derived from basal serum insulin and plasma glucose concentrations.
Results—No significant differences were apparent between ponies predisposed to laminitis and control ponies during winter. However, in June, laminitis-prone ponies had increased serum insulin concentration and plasma triglyceride and uric acid concentrations, compared with control ponies. Also, laminitis-prone ponies were relatively insulin resistant, compared with control ponies. Mean blood pressure was significantly higher during summer in laminitis-prone ponies (median [interquartile range], 89.6 mm Hg [78.3 to 96.9 mm Hg]), compared with control ponies (76.8 mm Hg [69.4 to 85.2 mm Hg]).
Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Summer pastures appear to induce metabolic responses in some ponies, leading to expression of the prelaminitic phenotype, which includes hypertension as well as insulin resistance. Signs of this metabolic syndrome may not be apparent in affected ponies during periods of grazing winter pasture. Understanding this syndrome may enable improved countermeasures to be devised to prevent laminitis.