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