Is your horse on the sturdy side? Then you are not alone. Many of our horses can do without a few pounds. Especially because obesity can cause all kinds of health problems, even if your horse is just a little too fat. Extra pounds are often the reason for all kinds of ailments, or make them worse. So make the decision now to get and keep your horse weight well in the new year!
At our customer service we get people on the phone every day who tell us about the complaints of their horses such as itching, coughing and a bad coat. They then ask us which supplements could help with this. When we then inquire whether the horse may be overweight, we often get the answer: “Yes, he is a bit too fat”. In many cases, those extra pounds are at the root of the problem. And the symptoms will not disappear without doing something about that cause. Not even a supplement. In short: the horse must lose weight!
Horse too fat?
When is your horse too fat? As an owner, that is quite difficult to estimate. You see your horse every day and are therefore used to the way he looks. For example, ask your vet or farrier, they see a lot of horses every day and have a larger frame of reference. Or search the internet for the “body condition scorecard” for horses. This allows you to see for yourself in which category your horse falls. For example, you can easily feel the ribs on a horse that is well on weight. Fat deposits on the mane comb, at the shoulder and next to the tail insert do not bode well. Of course there are some differences per breed, but they are smaller than many people think.
A number of diseases are caused or aggravated by obesity. Think of Sweet Itch and other skin irritations, insulin resistance, EMS (Equine Metabolic Syndrome) and laminitis. A horse that has been overweight for a longer period of time will have more wear and tear on the joints. This increases the risk of injuries and a premature end to the sports career.
Winter ideal to start
It is incredibly difficult to lose weight, perhaps even more difficult than to let it gain weight. Especially because it is very important that he does get enough roughage. Otherwise you will get all kinds of other problems, such as stomach ulcers. However, winter is the ideal time to start weight loss. Horses naturally gain weight in the summer and use up those reserves again in the winter. If you ensure that your horse comes out of the winter nice and slim, then you are already a long way. In the summer it is even more difficult to lose a horse.
- Give your horse enough roughage, but make sure it is low in nutrients. Have your roughage tested. Prefer dry hay than rich hay silage!
- Do not give too much concentrate: for most horses good roughage, a mineral pellet and Omega-3 is sufficient. Salmon oil is a very good Omega-3 source, and contrary to popular belief, this oil is absolutely no fattening. It actually helps the metabolism. Several studies have shown that Omega-3 ensures a better burning of body fat if you also exercise more. It ensures a better blood supply to the muscles, so that the body is better able to burn fat more efficiently.
- The fact that you have an extra appetite for chocolate milk in the winter does not mean that your horse also needs extras such as slobber, carrots and treats. Give as few treats as possible!
- Give extra exercise. This can be a challenge, especially in winter, without grazing and with frozen or muddy outdoor containers. Walk or lung an extra time. Drive an extra day, or take a longer outdoor ride. Your vet or physiotherapist may be able to help you create a responsible training schedule.
- Don’t wrap your horse too warm! A horse burns more fat if it has to put in a little effort to keep itself warm. An unshaven horse can function well without a blanket at outside temperatures between -5 and 15 degrees Celsius. If it rains a lot or is windy, you can put on a thin rain blanket. Older horses or horses with underlying conditions sometimes need a thicker blanket.
- Give your horse a cleansing treatment with HELTIE horse® Detox twice a year. Preferably in March and September, before the change of season. This loosens accumulated waste products in the liver and kidneys and supports the metabolism. Please note, keep a lower dose if the horse is overweight. If necessary, contact customer service for specific advice.
Conclusion: Start weight loss now
Winter is the ideal time to let a horse lose weight with extra kilos. This is much more difficult in the summer. A horse that is well on weight often suffers less from all kinds of ailments. Take a critical look at your horse with the help of a score card, or let someone else take a look. Give poor roughage (test your roughage), little concentrate and no extras. Make sure the blankets are not too warm. And most importantly: get a lot of exercise. Lunge a little more, go for a walk and take a longer outside ride. Make sure your horse burns more energy than it consumes.