Weighing In on Horse Obesity
Just like humans, horses that eat too much and are inactive will become overweight. And, as is also true for humans, metabolism varies from one horse to another. Be sure to feed your horses as individuals—even if you keep them at a stable. Here are a few ways to ensure that your horse gets the right amount of food and exercise:
Horses that are exercised regularly have more muscle mass. The increased muscle mass requires energy to maintain the muscle, which means the horse will burn more calories. So exercise helps all the way around. By the way, exercise means you get up and ride, lounge or pony — turning your horse out in a dry lot is not exercise!
Horses tend to eat what they are given. Like many of us, they don’t know when to push away from the table. So be cautious about the amount of food you’re giving them and follow the feeding tips below.
- You know the old math saying, “garbage in, garbage out?” Well, your horse needs to eat a quality feed to be happy and healthy. Integrity horse feeds are scientifically formulated to provide the nutrition your horse needs. Integrity is sold at a great price at a feed store near you.
- Make your horse work for his or her forage by using double hay nets so that the horse has to navigate the net openings to consume the hay.
- If the horse is in a large, dry lot, spread the hay nets to 3 – 4 places so that the horse has to walk to their food.
- Measure your horse’s food by weight, not by scoops.
- Low carbohydrate foods are not necessarily low in calories.
- Feed long stem forage. It increases chewing time and slows consumption, which makes the horse feel like he or she has had enough to eat.
For Weight Loss
Daily hay should not exceed 1.4% of the horse’s body weight if the horse is on a weight loss program.
Try to get away from feeding your horses alfalfa hay. Alfalfa forage is higher in calories than grass hays and is consumed quicker, often leading to owners feeding their horses more hay.
Finally, check your horse’s Body Condition Score for an objective perspective on whether or not your horse needs to lose weight.