Last Updated on March 18, 2022 by Allison Price
What’s an overweight horse?
To monitor horses’ weight and determine whether they are overweight, weigh tapes or body condition scoring systems can be used. The laminitis website outlines a basic rule of thumb to follow:
- Horses that can’t feel or see bones are too thin.
- Horses that can’t feel or see bones are too fat.
- Horses are for those who can feel, but not see bones.
These body condition and fat scoring systems have a problem. Not all horse owners are able to accurately assess their horse or pony. Expert advice could be helpful. Learn more in our Horse Obesity Article.
How to feed an overweight horse
Horses can lose weight by eating well and exercising.
A 500kg horse will burn almost twice as much calories per day if it is hard-working than a horse who weighs the exact same, but is only ridden twice a week.
Feed according to breed. The native breeds are good doers and make the best of low-quality grazing. They require lower calories to maintain their weight. They still require fibre to support their digestive and behavioral health.
Horses can easily eat hay or pasture, but this doesn’t provide them with all the trace minerals they require. In addition to grazing and hay, feeding horses a balanced or vitamin and mineral supplement is recommended. A small amount of low-calorie fibre feed may suffice if a bucket feed is desired.
A 500-kg horse will need 20,000 calories per day to maintain his weight. A kg of high quality hay contains approximately 7-8MJ (or 2000 calories). Therefore, 10 kilos per night is sufficient to provide all the calories needed for maintenance and not to feed on grass or hard food.
If you want to reduce the amount hay that is fed at night for grazing, it’s important that they don’t eat too fast and remain with no fiber for the rest. This will cause digestive problems.
Gastric ulcers and colic can be caused by behavioural or gastric problems. This can be solved by slow feeding. Haygain Forager slows down horses’ eating speed, allowing for longer lasting forage.
Learn more about how to reduce their calorie intake and keep them chewing.
Other aspects of energy consumption, such as what to feed an overweight horse, should also be taken into consideration. You should not over-rugge the horse. Because they don’t need as much energy to keep warm, ragged horses can store this as fat.
Exercising an overweight horse
An increase in exercise for overweight horses will improve the balance between calorie intake, calorie expenditure. However, this should be done gradually and all aspects of the horse’s health considered.