In today’s fast paced society, many horse owners do not take the time to research what is in the feeds that their horses are eating.  Many are shocked when they read the facts concerning the ingredient lists in the most popular complete feeds for horses.  Even vets do not know warn us of the dangers of these ingredients!  Let’s examine just a few.


Low sugar, low starch feeds are the new rage for our insulin resistant horses.  Equine Secrets believes that so many horses have become IR due to the very feed that they are given.  These feeds contain mainly Soy and Beet Pulp.  So what’s wrong with this?  First of all, the soy and beet pulp in your horse feed is most likely genetically modified.  (Unless you’re paying more for Non GMO) Over 90% of soy is genetically modified.  Beet pulp comes from the  genetically modified sugar beet.  Genetically modified ingredients contain artificially inserted genes from viruses, bacteria, other plant species, insects, humans and other animals.  Does that sound that something you want your horse to eat?  Genetic modification can cause a deficiency of normal nutrients in this food, while other naturally occurring plant substances may become so concentrated as to become toxic!  Gene splicing can also result in unpredictable allergens. 


GM plants are created primarily to increase their resistance to herbicides and insects, but what is this doing to our horses?  For now, let’s just forget the fact that most soy is genetically modified.  What else is wrong with it?



·       Estrogen – Not great for your gelding and not great to overload your mare with.

·       Hemagglutinin – Causes red blood cells to clump.  These cells are unable to absorb oxygen.

·       Phytic Acid  - This acid will block the body’s ability to absorb important minerals.

·       Natural toxins or Antinutrients

·       Enzyme inhibitors – These inhibitors block enzymes that the body needs to digest protein.  This can lead to major mineral and protein deficiencies.

·       Isoflavones – Depresses thyroid function and can be responsible in the formation of goiter. 

Reduced thyroid function has a clear effect on insulin resistance.  Thyroid hormones affect carbohydrate metabolism through increasing intestinal glucose absorption and facilitating the movement of glucose into fat and muscle cells.  Thyroid hormones facilitate insulin mediated glucose uptake by the cells.  Soybean meal has been a large part of horse feed for many years.  The soy used is a byproduct of the vegetable oil industry that needs a place to dump its waste.



Horses were not designed to ingest corn oil!  They were designed to eat forage!  If your horse in underweight, increase his hay intake.
This is the healthy way to do it.  Corn oil and Canola oil are genetically modified.  I have seen horses stand panting in their stalls trying to process these oils.  They are incapable of doing so without problems.   An infusion of fat actually induces insulin resistance!


Comes from the rape seed, which is the most toxic of all plants.  Like soy, rape is a weed.  Insects will not even eat it because it is deadly poisonous!  Canola is used as a lubricant, fuel, soap and synthetic rubber base, and as an illuminant for the slick pages in magazines.  It does not belong in your horse’s body or your body for that matter! Some of the Side effects are:  Loss of vision, antagonizes the central and peripheral nervous system, emphysema, anemia, constipation, and irritability.  Rape oil was widely used in animal feeds in Europe between 1986 and 1991.  Cows, pigs and sheep went blind, lost their minds and attacked people.  Concerning “Mad Cow Disease”:  When rape oil was removed from animal feed the symptoms disappeared.  Coincidence?  Canola oil contains large amounts of cyanide containing compounds.  Cyanide inhibits production of ATP, the energy molecule that fuels mitochondria.  Soy and Canola oils depress the immune system.  These oils alter the bioelectric terrain and promote disease.


Sugar beets are a genetically engineered beet that can withstand large doses of the herbicide Roundup.  In December of 1998, the USDA approved Monsanto’s first GE sugar beet.  Several months later, the EPA increased the maximum allowable residues of the herbicide, glyphosate (the main ingredient of Roundup which Monsanto manufactures) on sugar beet roots from .2 parts per million to 10 ppm.  This is a 5000% increase in pesticide levels.  The agency has also increased allowable glyphosate residues on dried sugar beet pulp.  In summary, the beet pulp that is fed to horses is a genetically engineered product with high levels of pesticides.  Sound good?

A very informative article on BEET PULP

Is Beet Pulp Toxic To Horses - The Real Story
By Lorrie Bracaloni

As a holistic practitioner for more than 12 years, I have assisted more than 100 horse owners with equine diets and nutrition. I have studied and gained quite a bit of experience with equine veterinarian, Dr. Lee Miller, for fifteen years. It is my intention to share my personal experiences, both educational and in the field, regarding what I have learned about feeding beet pulp.
Nutrition and digestive processes affect performance and overall condition. Different feeds break down differently based on the horse. Some of these effects include lameness, arthritis, colic, and other health-related illnesses.
Many times feed companies and veterinarians will recommend beet pulp for COPD horses for added fiber, or as an alternate hay and grass source. Although beet pulp may present no problems in the short-term, there are no significant studies on the long-term effects. Please note that alot of horse owners feed beet pulp with no apparent problems, while other horse owners will have exhausted all treatment protocols and still not know why their horse has loose stools, stifles issues, hip problems.
Not looking at what they are feeding: so let's see what the expert vet in his field says and clear up the beet pulp issue once and for all:
Lon Leiws DVM-Feeding and Nutrition care of the Horse 1982 states quoted :
Excess amounts of oxalates ( form of salt) may be present in these plants-halogeteon, greasewood, BEETS, dock , rhubarb-(Beets =product beet pulp) - If the horse consistently eats theses plants over a LONG extendend period of time, calcium deficency will result. Insoulble oxalate crystals will deposit in the kidneys resulting in kidney damage - Could be the reason for the water molecules trying to flush the kidneys?
Beet pulp originates from sugar industry. It is an insoluble fiber, meaning that it does not interact with the body. It rushes through the intestines taking with it whatever supplements have been given. Simply put, it cannot be digested. It takes four molecules of water for the body to process beet pulp-adding water weight, and making the horse appear heavier. Once beet pulp is removed from the diet, the horse loses weight quickly, leading the owner to believe that the horse needs the beet pulp.
Dr. Joyce Harman of the Harmany Equine Clinic states that not all sugar can be eliminated from soaking the beets, therefore some remains in the pulp. Sugar contributes to insulin-resistance, and a condition known as Cushing's syndrome.
Like many other crops, sugar beets are treated with an extensive array of herbicides to limit weeds and grasses in the fields. The herbicides are absorbed by the beets. Nothing removes the chemicals from the pulp. In addition, growers top the beet plants with a chemical defoliant to kill back the tops before harvest. These chemicals also end up by-product beet pulp.
Dr. Eleanor Kellon, DMV, says that beet pulp is safe; it is washed with water to remove the solvents. However, the water only removes what is on the outside. The soaking process removes the sugar from the outside, but not the chemicals. Toxins are stored in the pulp not the juice.
Often, if the horse is unable to digest the beet pulp. Their hind-ends "shut down" and become weak. The common complaint being, "my horse has a weak hind-end."
Case in Kentucky - A lady emailed me about her paint that had been seen by vets, chiropractors, etc. to no avail her paint was weak from behind, bad stifles? He was 4yrs old they said arthritis, I said what are you feeding? Turns out she was feeding a product that was mostly beet pulp and rice bran. She took the paint off the feed, then sent a email stating her horse was moving much better and was able to ride him again.
A reputable event trainer, Katie Worley from Rock Solid Training Center, asked me to check her horses. I found was they were all weak in the hind-end, and Katie agreed. After looking at a tag from her feed, we found beet pulp listed as the third ingredient. After Katie took her horses off the beet pulp feed, she called to say they were using their hind-ends, and were much stronger.
Another owner, M.D. Kerns, wrote in to tell me about his horse which had been on beet pulp for nine months. "Although I was very skeptical at the onset, I am now prepared to admit that Bodhi is looking much different and much fit than he did when he was on the other feed. His coat looks good as ever and his waist (loss of all the water trapped in the hind-gut by the beet pulp fiber) is nearly back to its former Thoroughbred elegance and slimness, he is without a doubt the most handsome horse at the farm."
What does this all mean? Ask yourself these questions:
o Does my horse feel weak in the hind end?
o Are his hooves brittle?
o Does it seem like his stifles are weak?
o Does my horse appear to be lacking energy?
o What about the coat? Is it dull?
o Does my horse have loose stools? Are his stools loose or hard?
If you horse has any of these symptoms then:

Try the following for three months. Take your horse off beet pulp, and use good quality hay pellets, or grass hay, remembering to soak in water., for COPD horses- Make sure that your horse has access to free-choice minerals. In addition, read your feed labels. Most of them list "roughage by-products" which can actually contain beet pulp. Take a before and after picture, and really look at the hind-end. Notice how your horse moves after three months. I don't intend to offend anyone with this article if your horse is fine on beet pulp great, but if you are having any of theses symptoms you may take a look at what you are feeding.
Wouldn't you agree that prevention is far cheaper than the cost of treating health problems? We are our horse's caregivers. We owe it to them to be as knowledgeable and informed about what we put into them.
Lorrie Bracaloni is a certified holistic practitioner helping horse owners. Lorrie has received certifications in the following areas of equine health and preventative care: equine lameness and nutrition, acupressure massage and herbology, homeopathics, essential oils, and nutritional reflexology, energy body balancing, equine chiropractic techniques, and muscle injuries and trigger point stress relief therapy. She is currently the holistic consultant for Horsenet Rescue in Mt. Airy, Maryland, helping neglected and abused horses recover to optimal health.



Corn is also a genetically modified substance.  Corn contains lectins that directly stimulate fat production, which may be why it is used in many weight gain formulas.  Unfortunately, these lectins can do much harm.   When these lectins attach to a tissue cell one of the reactions is for the cell to duplicate.  This can allow fat to be deposited directly into the muscle.  NOT GOOD!  Corn tenderizes our horses!  It can also cause damage to the intestines and actually cause them to atrophy.  Not a good choice for your horse.  Corn is a natural herbicide- it kills other plants.   What does that tell you?  Corn oil is no better….


Depending on the horse, we believe that all feeds should be Oat or Hay Pelleted based.  From these two main ingredients we have seen amazing changes take place in the health of horses!  Oats are not suitable for insulin resistant horses but hay pellets have worked well in many cases.   Please feel to email us with any questions you may have.  We have helped many horse owners make the SWITCH to a healthier and happier horse.

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