Equine obesity has once again hit the horsey headlines this week. This has started to be a hot topic for the past year now and I have written about it on several occasions, highlighting that it is better to be a bit skinny than overweight. But with vets now warning that obesity is the biggest issue facing horses in the UK, it must be time for horse owners to take action and listen!
Dangerous Consequences of Equine Obesity
Laminitis is fatal. I have written about how laminitis should be taken seriously in the past and also how the majority of cases of laminitis could be prevented by weight loss. But laminitis isn’t the only danger to overweight horses. Poor performance, orthopedic disease, bad behaviour and equine metabolic syndrome are all potential symptoms of an overweight horse. Think how much time and effort we put into keeping our horses sound to prolong their life and career, and this could all be undone by letting our horses carry those extra pounds.
Assess Your Horse
While all these conditions can be treated or managed, prevention is always better than a cure. So get serious about your horses condition. Get a body condition score guide and weigh tape and assess your horse. If you are unsure what a healthy weight is or unsure what body condition score is, talk to a nutritionist. Not only will they help assess your horse, but they will also recommend a better diet to encourage weight loss if needed.
Re-think Rugs & Clipping
Make the most of the cold weather and change your clipping and rugging routines to help encourage weight loss. A cold horse will lose more weight than a warm one. This doesn’t mean you have to leave your horse shivering! But going down a rug weight or clipping a bit more of their coat off than usual can help them shed those extra pounds.
Try and keep your horse as active as you can. This can be difficult in the winter but there are simple things you can do even if you can’t ride every day. They are going to burn more calories being turned out than stood in the stable. But if you have to keep them in, encourage them to move round the stable by splitting their hay into multiple haynets and hanging around the stable.