Equine metabolic syndrome (EMS) is an equine disease of affluence similar to human metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes. Typically, horses which develop EMS are obese and have a glucose metabolism disorder (hyperinsulinaemia, insulin resistance). In a way that remains unknown, equine metabolic syndrome and high insulin levels in the blood in particular predispose horses to laminitis, which, as a painful and chronic symptom, can result in permanent lameness, necessitating euthanasia.
We investigate the prevalence and heredity of obesity and glucose metabolism in Finnhorses. Based on our previous research, the Finnhorse is not especially predisposed to glucose metabolism disorders compared with other breeds, even though it is often prone to obesity and is an excellent consumer of feed. According to current knowledge, genes are thought to affect the onset of equine metabolic syndrome, and the genome predisposes some breeds more than others to disorders in glucose metabolism more than others. However, as far as we know, heredity studies pertaining to the Finnhorse have not previously been carried out.
In addition, we investigate the effect of sedatives (alpha-2 receptor agonists and antagonists) on energy metabolism in both healthy horses and horses suffering from metabolic diseases. The goal of this research is to make sedation safer and, consequently, to improve equine welfare.