I was horse crazy since I can remember. My grandparents indulged me with carousel rides until I was dizzy as a child and I rode and took lessons at every opportunity through my teens and adulthood. If I wasn't on a horse I was reading about them or cleaning tack or mucking stalls whenever my "day job" didn't interfere.
Every year on Christmas morning I looked out my window to see if my horse was there. But it wasn't until 1981 when a temporary assignment with IBM brought me to Arizona that a horse showed up in my back yard. This began my transition from engineer to "small ranch" owner.
Romero was a Peruvian Paso - Quarter Horse cross. He had crooked front legs but could climb anything like a mountain goat, did airs above the ground in the Tucson Rodeo parade and safely carried injured hikers down from Mt. Lemmon. When I brought Romero home I knew a lot about horses but not very much about horse "keeping". Now, like most horsewomen, the more I learn the more I find there is a lot to still discover.
For the next twenty years, like many horse owners, I fed my horses hay and "feed in a bag"; I was hooked by much of the advertising into believing my horses needed everything in those bags - and that something terrible might happen to them if they didn't get it.
When I lost my Peruvian mare Perla de Oro fifteen years ago, I didn't understand the "typical" signs and symptoms of insulin resistance (IR) — overweight with patchy fat, cresty neck, dropped topline, hungry and thirsty all the time, or that the typical equine weight loss diet advised by most vets at that time was nutritionally unsound. What I've learned since then might have saved her but I'll never know for sure.
La Perricholi (Choli) came to me as a weanling. She was perfect - conformation, gait, brio, blood lines - but I became concerned when she returned from halter training with a cresty neck and fat patches. When Perla foundered I had come across Gretchen Fatenhauer's web site, naturalhorsetrim.com. A pioneer in the "barefoot horse movement" she had made some early associations between laminitis and hoof trim and some specific minerals but the picture was not complete. Years later searching on the internet led me to the Equine Cushings and Insulin Resistance (ECIR) group - and I quickly recognized that my young filly was probably insulin resistant. The diagnosis was confirmed by blood work that showed her insulin was twice the normal level.
We weren't out of the woods yet. I still thought that a supplement advertised "for insulin resistant horses" would fix the problem until Choli had a mild bout of laminitis. Fortunately for Choli and me the veterinary advisor for the ECIR group was highly regarded equine nutritionist Eleanor Kellon, VMD. I began to learn about the importance of a correct Diagnosis, a low sugar-low starch mineral balanced Diet, a balanced Trim, and Exercise (DDT-E).
My engineering, medical and nursing background plus a love for math has helped me share what I've learned over the years from Dr. Kellon, intensive self-study and participation in the ECIR group. The National Researh Councils's Nutrient Requirements of Horses became my main bedside reading, the challenge of mineral balancing has evolved into an easy to use set of spreadsheets and other tools, and I have had the privilege of helping others keep their horses sound and healthy or bring them back to soundness.
To inquire about a private consultation or for more information, you can contact me at
DesertEquineBalance@gmail.com and see available services at
Patti Woodbury Kuvik