There are countless chemical exchanges and processes of metamorphosis happening in your horse's body at any given moment.  If and how these processes take place can have a significant impact on your horse’s health.  A clear and common example of this is with your horse’s energy levels which are primarily controlled by a process known as metabolism.  Here are 3 metabolic issues common in horses.

EHS (Exhausted Horse Syndrome)

Most people associate this issue with the horse simply being tired…the fact is, a horse with exhausted horse syndrome will also be dehydrated, and low on electrolytes.  Signs of EHS can be a sparse appetite, sluggish pulse recovery, and depressed attitude.

Often times, when displaying such symptoms, the horse simply needs to take a break and take in some food and fluids.  If the horse does not have any gut sounds, a veterinarian may need to give the horse electrolytes, energy supplements, and IV fluids.

It should also be noted that EHS is often an early sign of our next issue which is Metabolic Colic.


Horse colic diagramColic is a complicated disease with a very illusory process.  There are a wide variety of colics including metabolic and ileus colic which are the most common.  They both occur due to a loss of electrolytes, lack of hydrating fluids, and an overall reduction of energy.

With metabolic and ileus colic, the intestines stop working and any undigested food in the horse’s digestive system will begin to “gas up” and bloat the horse causing pain.

Colic is fairly easy to identify because the horse will “paw” or try to lie down.  The horse may also begin to contort it’s lips and nostrils while showing an “I’m two seconds from throwing up” type of look.  Although there are a wide variety of treatments for Sand Colic (like this), other occurrences can get quite complicated.  Unfortunately at this point the horse is not likely to be able to simply rest and recover.

As with severe cases of Exhausted Horse Syndrome (above), the horse is going to at the very least need to regain it’s essentials: fluids, electrolytes, and supplements.  It may also be necessary for a veterinarian to reflux their stomach contents.  In some cases, the horse’s intestines can become twisted which will typically lead to the horse having surgery.


Synchronous diaphragmatic flutter, more commonly referred to as “thumps” occurs when the horse’s diaphragm consistently contracts with each heartbeat creating contractions of the horse’s flanks.  The main cause of thumps is due to the horse’s electrolytes being out of balance.

To be precise, it is usually a lack of potassium, chloride, and calcium that are the culprits…these are also typically accompanied by  an extreme pH imbalance.

If caught early and the horse’s case of thumps is not extremely complicated, a remedy can be quite easy… often the horse can be given calcium-containing electrolytes.   If the case is more severe, the calcium may need to be given intravenously.

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