Downeast Medal Finals
March 2022
Downeast Medal Finals
Presented by Dover Saddlery
September 15-18, 2022
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Insulin Resistance in Horses
By Brittney Emmert

Equine insulin resistance, also known as Equine Metabolic Syndrome (EMS), is becoming a more publicly known condition, however, it is a complicated disease that is still not completely understood. Read on to find answers to questions surrounding equine insulin resistance.
Insulin resistance is a condition in which body tissues have a decreased responsiveness to insulin. Insulin is an extremely important hormone for the body; it regulates glucose(sugar) metabolism by instructing tissues to take in glucose from the blood stream after eating a meal, and it stimulates tissues to use that glucose to synthesize (make) glycogen, which is a way of storing energy.
In healthy tissues, insulin will bind to receptors on the tissue, which will send a signal that stimulates the cells to take in glucose. However, in insulin-resistant tissues, there is a problem that occurs with the signal after the insulin molecule binds to the receptor. This problem means the signal is not properly sent through the tissue, and glucose is not taken in from the blood stream. This causes the blood glucose level to remain high, which is a signal for the body to produce more insulin to try to get the tissues to take the glucose in. This can lead to clinical hyperinsulinemia (chronically high insulin concentration), which can cause more health issues.
What causes insulin resistance?
The exact causes of insulin resistance are unknown, but there are some factors that may influence its development. Obesity is the biggest risk factor for insulin resistance. Age is another one; older horses (older than 20 years) have an increased risk of developing Equine Metabolic Syndrome. Increased age is often also associated with Cushing’s disease, a frequently diagnosed endocrine abnormality in horses. 
Breed can also play a role. It has been shown that ponies, Arabians and Morgans are more likely to develop insulin resistance than Standardbreds. Lastly, it has been thought that diets high in simple starches or with a high glycemic index could increase the chance of developing insulin resistance, but this claim has not been proven.
What are the symptoms of insulin resistance?
There is not a specific set of symptoms that an insulin-resistant horse will show, but there are signs that might indicate insulin resistance. These include abnormal fat deposits, usually on the crest, rump and above the eye, excessive urinating and drinking, and potentially developing laminitis. However, if a horse displays these symptoms, it is not always because of insulin resistance. Talk to your veterinarian to determine the exact cause and discuss different risk factors.
How can you treat insulin resistance?
The best way to treat insulin resistance is to prevent it in the first place. This can be done by feeding a proper diet, ensuring your horse gets plenty of exercise and maintaining a healthy body condition score of 5-6. However, if your horse is already insulin-resistant, changing its diet and exercise is the best way to maintain a good quality of life. Feeding low glycemic index feeds, like plain beet pulp and warm-season grasses, will also help to lower blood glucose and insulin.
Increasing the amount of exercise your horse gets is also very important in maintaining a healthy horse. Start with exercising two to three times a week for 20-30 minutes and gradually work up to five to seven times a week.
By adopting these management changes, you should be able to give your horse a good quality of life and keep them happy and healthy for more years to come.

Rider Spotlight - Ryen McDaniel
The 2021 Downeast Short Stirrup Medal Final was won by Ryen McDaniel. Let's learn about Ryen!

"Hi my name is Ryen McDaniel. I am a fifth grader at Great Works school. I ride at Graystone Stables with my mom Kate and other trainer Steph Plaisted. I am very proud to have won the 2021 Downeast short stirrup medal final on my pony Liam. This was particularly special to me and our family because the short stirrup medal final trophy is named in honor of my grandfather Peter Thompson. My grandfather bought my pony Liam for my mom to train 20 years ago. I have been coming to Downeast Finals my entire life. This is my favorite show all year. I love it because I get to see all of my friends, and there are so many fun classes like the team challenge and Pro-Am, which I did with my mom this year. Everyone is so friendly and the prizes are amazing! I could go on forever but my last reason I love this horse show is everyone showing and working at Downeast Medal Finals always has a smile on their face."
Attention to all Medal Finals winners, Derby winners, Hunter Futurity winner, Team Challenge winners, Pro/Am winners, and Horsemanship winners: We would like to feature you in the upcoming newsletters!

Please submit a bio including where you are from, where you ride, trainer, years at DMF, where you go to school/grade, favorite things about riding, your horse, future goals in riding and life, your horse’s favorite treats, anything about you and your horse!

Please submit to We look forward to learning about you!
Upcoming Shows with DMF Qualifying Classes
Mar. 20 EvenstrideByfield, MA
Mar. 27 Over The Oxer EquestrianDover, NH
Apr. 16 Coastal Classic Show SeriesNobleboro, ME
Apr. 16 EvenstrideByfield, MA
Apr. 24 Over The Oxer EquestrianDover, NH
Apr. 24 Lucky Clover StablesSanford, ME
Apr. 23 Graystone StablesBerwick, ME
Apr. 30 Seacoast Horse Show SeriesFremont, NH
Want to see your show listed here? Fill out our Downeast Classes Form to host our classes!
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Thank you to Spotted Vision Photography and Riitta Fortier for providing us with many wonderful photographs from the Downeast Medal Finals.
Bernard Klingenstein/Euclide Albert Memorial
The Family of Charles K. Thayer
Jim Tynan Memorial
Junior Horsemanship
Maggie Mae Memorial
My Horse Heroes Memorial
Peter N. Thompson Memorial
SeaHorse Stables
The Family of Betsy Milliken Giustra
Betsy Bee Farm
Meadow View Equestrian Center
Seery Hill
The Lynch Family