• horse;
  • dietary fat;
  • plasma lipids;
  • lipoproteins;
  • lipoprotein lipase;
  • hepatic lipase


Feeding of a fat-rich diet to horses may enhance the flux of fatty acids, in the form of triacylglycerols (TAG), through the circulation into skeletal muscle. This hypothesis was tested indirectly by measuring the concentration of plasma TAG and the activity of lipoprotein lipase (LPL) in post heparin plasma. Six mature horses were fed a high-fat or a control diet according to a crossover design with feeding periods of 6 weeks. The control diet contained 1.5% fat in the dry matter and the high-fat diet 11.8%. The high-fat diet was formulated by adding soybean oil to the control diet at the expense of an isoenergetic amount of corn starch plus glucose. Both diets consisted of hay and concentrate and were given on a restricted basis. Nine hours after feeding, whole plasma TAG concentration decreased significantly by 84% following fat-supplementation, whereas the whole plasma concentrations of cholesterol and phospholipids were significantly increased by 53% and 26%, respectively. The level of HDL-cholesterol was raised by 54%. The changes in plasma lipids were accompanied by a 79% increase in LPL activity in post heparin plasma. These results indicate that in the fasting state a high-fat diet raises the flux of fatty acids, in the form of TAG, into skeletal muscles as illustrated by the observed decrease in plasma TAG concentrations and increase in LPL activity. It is speculated that the increased flux of fatty acids is associated with an increased oxidative capacity of skeletal muscle which might be advantageous to exercising horses.