Last Updated on February 23, 2022 by Allison Price
Fat horses eat less than their lean counterparts when they are allowed to make their own decisions and get as much exercise.
Many horses who are overweight have been called “lazy” and “gluttonous” by their owners. However, research from North Carolina State University shows that most horses who are overweight eat less than their lean counterparts, and they are more active.Researchers discovered that obese horses were more active than lean horses, and they interacted with other horses and moved for longer periods of time. They also ate less.
The study involved 10 mature horses. There were two groups: an “obese” group, which consisted of six horses with body condition scores greater than 7, and a “lean,” group consisting of four horses with bodies condition scores between 4 and 5. Both groups transitioned from grazing pastures to free-choice, hay over a 25-day period. For the next 11 days, both groups were closely monitored for their hay intakes and metabolic status.
Additionally, fecal samples were taken to determine dry-matter and gross energy digestibility. Horses were also fitted with heart-rate monitors equipped with GPS trackers, which collected data that could be used for calculating each horse’s energy consumption. Regular blood samples were taken for analysis.
The researchers reviewed the data and found no differences in energy consumption and expenditures between obese and lean horses. The obese horses were more active than the lean horses, and they interacted with other horses more often. They also ate less.