As you head into summer, you’re probably looking at your horse and wondering if they’re in summer shape and ready for the trails or events. An overweight horse, it’s hard to tell by eye if your horse is overweight or carrying extra. The easiest and fastest way is to feel the ribs. If you have to work to feel your horse’s ribs, or even can’t feel them at all, then your horse is fat or even obese. If you can feel them but aren’t readily available, your horse could probably stand to lose a little weight, but that weight is likely to be worked off once you move into a more active season. Losing weight is an uphill battle for anyone, whether human, horse or other. Horses and humans get the same two-pronged plan; increase exercise and decrease calories.
Introduce exercise for your overweight horse
Exercise is probably the easier battle to fight; most horses enjoy getting out and doing. Just remember that five short rides or practices are better for your horse than one long one. You’ll want to get in as much time and movement as you can, but better a bunch of small than one big long. Don’t start drastically, slowly increase and help your horse get into shape and gain endurance. If they’ve put on a belly from being stalled all winter, they’re going to want to be pasture potato, not a fence jumper right out of the gate!
Calorie Counter – Cut back on grain intake.
When it comes to calories, it’s best to cut back the grain as much as your horse lets you. Unless your horse is pregnant, medically compromised, training for top level competition or young and growing, they won’t need grain. The nutrients your horse gains from pasture are more than enough for their health. If your horse doesn’t have pasture access, a mix of hays and legumes is a good substitute. As with the exercise, it’s best to start small and move it up slowly. If you can convince your horse than a once a day, a third of a cup, allotment of grain is a special treat, you’re winning against the risk of an overweight horse in the barn.
Reducing weight wont happen overnight
As with humans, weight loss doesn’t happen overnight and nor should it. While there’s a host of health problems that come with a horse carrying more than they should, drastic weight-loss can bring it’s own fair share of challenges too. What it boils down to is slow and steady winning this race. We all want your horse to be as healthy and happy as possible and around for a good long time. Just remind yourself that when dealing with a horse that is grumpy from their grain feed being cut back, it’s for everyone’s good. You may have to remind yourself several times per feeding.
This article is brought to you Abler– trusted equine medication by horse owners worldwide.