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  • April 13, 2023 3 min read

    Helping Your Horse Lose Weight

    Winter is only a few months away, and with it brings an abundant amount of fresh green grass! No doubt you will have already noticed paddocks are no longer bare, and new grass shoots are emerging. Whilst this is fantastic news for our horses that need a little extra help in the weight department, it is not such good news for our land whales. So, let's look at some ways that we can assist our horses in keeping the weight off this winter.

    Restrict Grazing

    First and foremost our good doers need to have their grazing privileges limited. However, to what extent is heavily dependent on the horse, and if the horse has any underlying conditions such as laminitis. If your horse or pony is healthy, then a good quality grazing muzzle may suffice, as this will limit up to 80% of pasture intake. A grazing muzzle also allows the horse to move around (as opposed to being locked in a stable) and this movement will also facilitate weight loss, and keep the horse happy and healthy.

    Another way to restrict pasture intake is by stabling your horse for part of the day, and limiting its turn out time. However, if using this strategy, keep in mind that you will need to have hay available for your horse to eat in the stable, as it is recommended that horses should go no longer than 4 hours without eating.

    Feed The Right Hay

    Hay can contain a very large percentage of sugar, and it is this type of hay that we want to keep well away from good doers! So, when choosing hay, make sure that you are feeding hay with a very low sugar content. This can include meadow hay, lucerne hay, or barely straw. If you don't have access to low sugar hay, then consider soaking the hay to remove a good proportion of the sugars.

    Also, feed hay in a slow feeder hay net. This will slow down the consumption of hay and keep your horse chewing for a lot longer!


    Exercising your horse will help to shed any extra kilos. This can include lunging or riding; even turn out time counts towards their exercise quota. Just make sure any exercise regime is within your horse's capabilities and fitness levels. It is always better to start slow, and gradually build your workout routine.

    Weigh Your Feed

    If you are feeding your horse a hard feed, which may be required to meet protein, vitamin and mineral requirements (see below), then make sure you weigh your feed! Measuring your feed by volume is not accurate, and you may unintentionally be feeding a little more than required. So, a kitchen scale is a must out in the stable to ensure your horse is getting the appropriate amount.

    Balance Your Feed

    Even if your horse is on a restricted calorie diet, it is still important that you are meeting its protein, vitamin and mineral requirements. Failure to do so may result in muscle wastage, changes to the hoof and coat, or you may even see bigger changes to the overall health of your horse. There are a range of feeds on the market that are low in sugar, but are designed to meet the nutrient requirements of your horse. When selecting a feed, look out for added molasses or feeds that have a high energy content, as these feeds will not be suitable for your horse. Some feeds that may be suitable for your horse include, but are not limited to, Hygain Balanced, Speedibeet, Full Fat Soybean Meal and Thompson and Redwood Lupin Fibre Cubes. It is also best to ensure that your diet is balanced using the NRC Guidelines (Nutrient Requirements for Horses).

    There are many ways in which you can help your horse lose weight. It is always better to start a weight loss program before your horse is obese. In situations where your horse is obese or has any underlying health issues, it is best to consult with your vet or equine nutritionist.

    As always, we are here to help. If you need assistance in selecting the right feed for your horse, please visit us in store, online or even give us call, we would be more than happy to help!

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