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Top Tips for Managing Overweight Horses

1.Weigh your horse

Don’t worry, we don’t mean getting them on the scales! Invest in a weigh tape which can give you a good idea of your horse’s weight. You’ll need to combine keeping a close eye on their condition. You should be able to easily feel their ribs with slight pressure – if you have to really poke your finger in, your horse is too fat! Another good idea is to keep track of their neck circumference, as a hard, cresty neck can be a sign of laminitis and related conditions such as Cushings.

2. Restrict grass intake

Lush grass is full of sugar and starch, so if you have a good do-er, you’ll have to restrict their grass intake. You could try stabling them during the day and turning out at night when the amount of sugar in the grass is at its lowest. Other alternatives include strip grazing or using a grazing muzzle for short periods if your horse will tolerate it.

3. Lengthen feeding time

If you restrict grass intake, you must still make sure your horse is getting sufficient forage in their diet. Horses are designing by nature to be trickle feeders, so feeding hay in a haynet with small holes will help it last longer, as will feeding small amounts of high fibre feed in treat balls. Speedi-Beet and Fibre-Beet are both safe for laminitics and can be used a forage replacer for overweight horses due to the very low sugar and starch content.

4. Increase exercise

Don’t head off to the gallops straight away, as too much fast exercise will strain an overweight horse. Instead start with some leisurely hacks to build up your horse’s fitness levels. If you lack time for riding, you could turn out in a bare paddock or spend a few minutes each day on some gentle lunging. In time you can build this up so that you’re raising your horse’s heartrate during exercise and burning off those calories!