We all worry about our horses losing weight over the winter, especially when it comes to our warmbloods and thoroughbreds. However, according to the horses natural digestive systems, we shouldn’t worry as much as we do. In fact, we should be more worried about our Good Doers!
In the wild, horses put on weight over the summer due to the abundance of good quality grass. A healthy horse will be slightly over weight at the end of summer. Then over winter, the horse will slowly lose this extra weight so that by the end of winter, they are slightly under weight.
We, as horse owners, are obsessed with maintaining our horses weight so that their weight does not change throughout the year. If your horse drops a bit of weight over winter, you shouldn’t worry as this is the natural cycle for the horse and they should put it back on in the warmer months. Poor doers will need extra feed and rugs over the winter months.
The bigger issue with how we keep our horses is that because we worry about them losing weight over winter, some horses (usually Good Doers) get gradually fatter each year. This is because horses put on a little weight over the summer and we manage them so well that they do not lose this extra weight over the winter. Then next summer they put on a little more weight and the cycle continues.
There is more and more research coming out about the dangers of fat horses and because of all this research, I think there needs to be more advice out there explaining to owners that it is okay for their horse’s weight to fluctuate throughout the year.