10 ways to stop your horse becoming overweight

If your horse struggles with his weight, keep him healthy all year round by following these top 10 tips. 

1. Restrict your horse's grazing

Restricting your horse's grazing can limit the amount of calories he gets from grass

Restricting your horse's grazing can limit the amount of calories he gets from grass

Restrict your horse's grazing by stabling your horse for part of the day, turning him out in a restricted area, strip grazing the field or using a well-fitting grazing muzzle.

2. Replace your horse's hay

Replace your horse's hay with the same weight of low-calorie hay replacer, for example a soaked hay and oat straw mix.

3. Feed your horse according to workload 

Feed according to the amount of work your horse has actually done - not what you plan to do.

4. Weigh your horse's hay

Weighing hay means you can keep a close eye on how much your horse is eating

Weighing hay means you can keep a close eye on how much your horse is eating

Weigh your horse's hay nets to help you monitor his calorie intake.

5. Soak your horse's hay

Soak your horse's hay to reduce its sugar content. However, bear in mind that the results are variable and dependent on many factors, including water temperature.

As forage forms a big part of your horse's diet, it's advisable to get it tested. Soaking should not be relied upon to make forage 'safe' especially for horses with EMS and laminitis. 

If you’re starting from dry hay, build the soaking time up gradually. Palatability with hay from dry to soaked can be really different so start gradually. Initially, soak the hay for an hour, then for three, six hours and so on. 

6. Use small-holed haynets

Use small-holed or smaller haynets to eek out his ration, or try double netting.

7. Feed low-calorie, highly digestible fibre feeds

Feed low-calorie, highly digestible fibre feeds that are low in sugar and starch. Feed these little and often to mimic your horse's natural grazing behaviour and help keep his digestion healthy.

8. Does your horse need a rug?

Your horse might benefit being turned out without a rug

Your horse might benefit being turned out without a rug

You should always make sure you choose an appropriate rug for your horse, if he needs one at all (dress for the day, not the season!). 

9. Exercise your horse

Exercise your horse for at least 20 minutes a day to help minimise his waistline.

10. Monitor your horse's condition

Regularly body condition scoring your horse helps 

Regularly body condition scoring your horse helps 

Regularly use a weightape in conjunction with condition scoring to monitor your horse's condition.