Obesity is a big problem in the human population and there’s now evidence it’s become widespread among our horses, too. Experts now rate being overweight as one of the biggest threats to your horse’s health.
Part of the problem is that people just don’t recognise what a fit, athletic horse looks like anymore. There seems to have been a shift in what’s considered ‘normal’. People might think a fit horse looks a bit skinny and feed them up without realising what they’re doing. A lot of the time, horses are overweight because of this - their owners feed them too much.
Why extra weight is a worry
While horses with a little bit more to love might seem cuddly, being overweight can lead to a host of health problems.
One of the biggest problems with being overweight is that it predisposes horses to suffering from laminitis. They might also be at risk to conditions like equine metabolic syndrome, too.
Being overweight can also put a bigger strain on his joints – the more weight he has to carry, the harder it is on his body overall.
It can be difficult to admit your horse is overweight (but you can’t deny that apple-shaped bottom forever!), so have a friend to help you body condition score your horse.
Your horse’s weight will fluctuate at certain times of year but doing a regular body condition score of your horse can help you to keep an eye on him. It’s something very few people do frequently, but a check once a month will help you notice any changes.
Body condition scoring requires you to make an assessment by eye and touch of the amount of fat your horse is carrying. You’ll grade each area where fat is most likely to accumulate (for example over his ribs or hindquarters) with a score of 1-5, with five being obese and 1 being underweight.
If your horse is overweight, you’ll need to make changes. This might be by upping his exercise, changing his feed or wearing a grazing muzzle while in the field. Ask your vet or get in touch with an equine nutritionist if you’re unsure.
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