A horse has a “cresty” neck when there are significant fat deposits along the nuchal ligament. Recent research shows that these fat deposits are a better predictor of insulin dysregulation than general obesity in horses.
Australian researchers Danielle Fitzgerald, Martin Sillence, Melody de Laat and Stephen Anderson used 26 ponies to determine if there were any links between body condition score, cresty neck score and insulin dysregulation. Insulin dysregulation is one of the issues that falls under the equine metabolic syndrome category. Early detection of insulin dysregulation can help horse owners stave off laminitis, a weight-related issue that can be damaging to the point where euthanasia is the only humane option.
The scientists wanted to determine if regional fat deposits were a better indicator of equine metabolic syndrome than general obesity. An experienced horseperson evaluated each of the ponies for regional fat deposits and a cresty neck. Ten were deemed “normal,” five were obese and 11 had a high score on the cresty-neck scale. Body weight, girth circumference and height were also measured.
The ponies then had an oral glucose test performed, and blood samples taken before and 2 hours after the test was performed. Of the study ponies, 13 were found to have insulin dysregulation. Of the 13 ponies, two had an ideal body condition, three were obese and eight had a high cresty-neck score.
The researchers concluded that ponies with a cresty neck and an otherwise normal body condition score had a significant chance of having insulin dysregulation; ponies with a cresty neck score of three or higher had five times greater likelihood of insulin-dysregulated. They noted that a high cresty neck score was more predictive of insulin dysregulation than body condition score.
Read more at HorseTalk.
Read the full study here.
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