Equine Metabolic Syndrome (EMS) is a relatively new disease resulting from a changed lifestyle of many horses. There are very few true working horses left in the Western world and the number of sports horses is decreasing, in comparison to increasing numbers of horses used for pleasure riding.
Pleasure horses do not have to work much and a lot of them get more than enough feed, which leads to a change in their metabolic situation thereby increasing the number of fat cells.... which will lead to a a vicious cycle that is very difficult to break.
In Traditional Chinese Equine Medicine this cycle is described as the result of a spleen Qi deficiency. The spleen is overloaded resulting in phlegm, which becomes visible as fatty depots.
To treat EMS the owner is an important part of the therapy. They need to increase the workload and decrease some of the caloric intake. When this is agreed upon there are different herbs that can be used to influence the metabolism and help the horse deal with its problem.
It is very important to control the metaflammation as soon as possible because it will cause damage in all kind of cells. For example, it was observed that EMS in older horses often leads to Equine Cushing Syndrome (ECS). It is possible that the constant activation of immune cells destroys dopaminergic cells and thus, is the basis for ECS.