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Keep the horse slender!

Last changed: 02 March 2017

This study investigated the variation in plasma insulin concentration (PIC) in a group of Icelandic horses in training, considered to be healthy and examined possible relationships between PIC and gender, age, body size, body condition score and management factors such as feed allowance and subjective level of fitness.


Plasma insulin concentration ranged from 0.2 to 13.9 mU/l, body condition score from 2.3 to 4.0 and concentrate allowance from 0 to 4 kg. There was a significant effect of concentrate allowance (P = 0.0007) and body condition score (P = 0.004) on PIC. For every 1 kg increase in the concentrate allowance, log-PIC increased by 0.26 mU/l. For every 1 unit increase in body condition score, log-PIC increased by 0.45 mU/l. There was no effect of hay allowance, level of fitness, transport time, body size and age on insulin concentration.


Owners of Icelandic horses should be aware that increased body condition elevates PIC, and thereby potentially the risk of laminitis. However, in the group of horses studied, the concentrations were within the range considered normal.

Link to the publication


Jansson, A. StefansdottirG.J. and S. Ragnarsson 2016. Plasma insulin concentration increases linearly with body condition in Icelandic horses. Acta Vet. Scand. 58:76.


Anna Jansson
Professor at the Department of Anatomy, Physiology and Biochemistry (AFB); Division of Anatomy and Physiology 

Telephone: 018-672106