Hello and welcome to the forum:)
pretty much summed things up:)
Yes, I’ve had two TWH’s with metabolic issues.
1. Duke was 20 when he diagnosed with EMS. He was 27 when I laid him to rest from colic due to strangulating lipomas.
Initially Duke had lost ~80# in six weeks. He never had a laminitic day in his life. I never muzzled him. I did change his diet and shortened his pasture time by a few hours daily.
2. Joker’s insulin resistant resistant diagnosis hit me like a bucket of dirty diapers in 2012, as he was already on Duke’s diet and reduced pasture time. I had not however, been testing hay; which I started after Joker was diagnosed and also seriously foundered.
Joker has been in IR remission since 2015. I attribute that more to an even “tighter” change in diet and getting my hay tested.
Joker wore a muzzle nine months of the year, 2012 thru spring of 2015. He has not worn a muzzle since. Yes it left scars on him, even though I kept clean moleskin on the rubbing spots every day.
Joker never had to eat hay thru a hay net with the muzzle on, however. I would worry about the horse not only not getting enough to eat but also the frustration of trying to pull hay and not being able to, possibly leading to ulcers.
I don’t feed round but during the cold months, when I had four horses, I scattered hay on the ground and Joker became very adept at pulling the hay on the ground thru the muzzle.
Joker was diagnosed with Cushings (PPID) in 2019 and is now on Prascend. His blood work is interpreted by Cornell. Last May both his insulin numbers and his ACTH numbers were well within normal range.
I like the way Cornell interprets as they include what the acceptable low/high range should be, so you know how long to keep the oxygen mask on, after reading your horse’s results:)
You have done a tremendous amount of research. I know the time that takes, so Thank you for making your eyes look like road maps for the well being of your horse:)
1. California Trace — if you are feeding the Trace PLUS, that is good. If not switch to it because it has all three of the necessary amino acids, whereas the regular California Trace only has two.
1.1. CT has a high amount of selenium. Do you live in an area that is low enough in selenium (grass & hay) to justify feeding that large amount? Pasture and hay also have selenium in them, and it doesn’t take much extra selenium for the horse to become toxic:)
My area is a tch low in selenium but my county Ag person still said CT has too much in it, once pasture and hay get figured in:)
1.2. That said, I am only somewhat of a fan of CT because it does not have all of the vitamins & minerals a horse needs. If the hay your horse receives, tests adequately for everything, the CT should be ok. Otherwise I might look at some other condensed supplement that does not use soy as it’s protein source.
I have been using HorseTech for grass fed horses since 2015. I feed the meal form, which is cheaper than the pellet form. A 35# bucket lasts me ~90 days for two horses.
2. If you decide to get blood work done. The horse does have to be put up with on,y hay and water after 10:00 PM. It cannot have anything else until the vet draws the blood. The earlier the vet arrive the better so as not to stress the horse, which could give a false reading.
One vile of blood to check insulin levels
One vile of blood to check ACTH.
Ad egrogan alluded to, baselines have been established for Fall readings to help make them more accurate, albeit it may still be difficult if you’ve never had this type of blood work done before.
3. Lastly, I feed my horse 1500 mg daily of L-Citrulline, another amino acid. There are credible studies regarding the benefits for human diabetes athletes use it for muscle recovery.
I believe Dr. Kellon does briefly mention L-Citrulline in a winter laminitis article. I’m not saying to use it, but research it and make your own decision after you get the blood results back:)
I buy “Source Naturals L-Citrulline on Amazon as it’s about $15/bottle cheaper than my local health food store.
4. If the hay typically comes from the same place, get it tested and get some blood work done:)
I hope this helps:)