Obesity Risks – Is your horse or pony a good doer?
As many of us know, obesity is a growing problem, and presents a number of health risks, some of these health risks include chronic laminitis, oxidative stress, and less than perfect interaction between insulin and blood glucose. It's important to work towards maintaining a body condition score of 5 (1 being extremely thin to 9 being extremely fat). The score is determined by factors such as whether or not the ribs are visible, can be felt or are covered by a thick padding of fat, and if the spine sticks out above the back, is level with the flesh or lies in a crease surrounded by fat deposits. However, there are some horses that should have a condition score higher than 5, broodmares have a different job role to most horses and their body condition score must stay within unique demands. Mares who are thinner tend to not conceive as readily as those that come into breading season a little heavier. For a broodmare the ideal body condition that should be aimer for is 5 to 6 at the start of the season resulting in an increased conception rate.
Below we share some tips on how best to do this.
Feed & Management Tips
-Monitor your horse/ pony's body condition regularly – this will help you to keep track of gradual changes and assess whether dietary adjustment may be necessary.
- Although ad-lib forage is the ideal, it is not always practical for good doers and some level of restriction may be necessary.
-Never starve any horse or pony, even if they are extremely overweight.
- Whilst forage alone can easily meet or exceed energy (calorie) requirements for many good doers, it is unlikely to provide a balanced diet.
-Balancers are the ideal option for horses and ponies able to maintainweight easily on forage alone, providing a concentrated source of vitamins, minerals and quality protein alongside a negligible level of calories when fed at the recommended ration.
- Try adding low calorie chaff/ fibres such as HAPPY HOOF to buckets to provide ‘bulk' and help extend eating time.
- If your horse/ pony is already in good or overweight condition, don't be tempted to increase his feed in attempt to improve his energy levels. Remember, energy = calories!
- Maintain a regular exercise programme where possible.