Healthy Horse High Fat Diet Benefits (for Some)

Numerous studies have supported the perception that a high-fat diet is generally beneficial to horses. But is this really the case? We examined a study from Kentucky Equine Research to look into this further.

Past Studies

Studies regarding equine diets in the past have stated that blood glucose and insulin responses are reduced when fat is substituted for carbohydrates with the same caloric level. These studies however, were not able to specify if this response was due to reduced glucose in the diet or if the glycemic responses were the result of fat added to the diet.

Nine horses (including five that were trained/fit and four that were not) were used in a two-period, switch-back experiment. During the first period, at 7:00 a.m., the five trained horses were fed 2.27 kg of a grain mix consisting of:

-72% oats

-20% corn

-8% molasses

- 170g of soybean oil mixed into the feed

The five horses were then given 2.72 kg of mature bluegrass hay. Blood samples were consistently taken from each horse exactly 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 8, 10 and 12 hours after feeding. The same procedure was followed during the next period for the four other horses, who served as controls for period one.


The study showed that the addition of fat (through the addition of soybean oil) to a grain meal will affect glucose and insulin levels for horses. These effects were found to be independent of the amount of carbohydrates in the diet. High-fat diets were found to supply positive effects, primarily in performance horses, in terms of energy production and high-level equine performance.

The study concludes that some horses do benefit from a high-fat diet, so long as it is properly regulated and monitored to improve their performance, overall health, and appearance. Consult with your veterinarian and call Southern Equine Distributing for a wide array of high-quality horse feed, whether you are looking to amp up or maintain their current nutritional fat levels: (905) 691-5141.


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