Scientific and Equine Consultant

Why it’s still OK to give your EMS, tying-up prone or obese pony or horse the odd Polo mint.

I recently saw a post on Facebook from an owner asking for alternative treats to POLO mints for her horse which had suffered from tying-up. She had been advised by her vet not to feed POLO mints because they are “loaded with carbohydrate”.

This advice intrigued me. So I looked up the nutritional breakdown of POLO mints courtesy of TESCO. And yes, its true that POLO mints are loaded with carbohydrates. In fact, every POLO mint consists of 98% carbohydrate and 96% sugar. So does this mean that POLO’s are bad for horses that are prone to tying-up, laminitis, etc? In principle yes. But of course the key factor here is how many packs a day are you feeding your horse!

1 Pack of POLO’s contains 1707KJ of energy or 1.707 MJ and 96g of sugar. A single tube weighs 34g. Therefore one tube supplies 1.707/100*34 = MJ of energy 0.58MJ of energy. Similarly, one tube supplies 96/100*34 = 33g of sugar. To put this in context, 33g of sugar will have no impact on a horses blood sugar level! Similarly, an adult horse at maintenance (i.e. not exercising, not growing, not in foal, etc) requires around 60MJ of energy per day to maintain condition. A horse in hardwork could require around twice this amount of energy. So, one tube of POLO’s represents around 1/100th to 1/200th of the daily energy intake of an adult horse.

If you fed your horse 10 tubes a day then you might start to get to a level that MIGHT cause a small increase in risk for horses prone to conditions such as tying-up or laminitis.

For anyone who prefers to use TREBOR EXTRA STRONG MINTS its also good news! They are very similar in energy and sugar terms to POLO’s and so are not likely to cause a problem either.