22 August 2008 13:05
My Section C gelding had laminitis last summer and then again this year. In the past I’ve got him to lose weight by avoiding hay, but now he’s sharing a field with other horses who are all fed hay. This means he’s getting some, and he’s putting weight back on. I’m not feeding anything but a few carrots and apples – I hate the thought of him being hungry but can’t risk him gaining weight. Can you help?
By Your Horse
Nutritionist Louise Jones advises:
Don’t heavily restrict his fibre intake – many owners starve laminitics, but would you starve an ill person? Here are some guidelines to help him lose weight gradually:
● Assuming he weighs around 300kg, he needs between 4.5kg and 7.5kg of fibre, (hay, chaff or grass) every day. If he can’t be separated from the other horses, try a grazing muzzle, checking that it allows him to drink.
● If he’s on a forage-only diet, he’ll need additional vitamins, minerals and, in particular, antioxidants to fight free radicals. Research shows that laminitics have higher levels of free radicals in their bodies, which damage the cells.
● Add a feed balancer to his diet, feeding 100g per 100kg of bodyweight, so 300g for your horse, and feed a low-calorie chaff like Dengie’s Hi-Fi or Dodson & Horrell’s Fibergy.
● Draw up an exercise plan to help him burn off excess fat.
● Monitor his weight with a weigh tape.