We hear often from people that “My pony is so fat!” It is often followed with, “He doesn’t need to be fed anything – he so much as sees a bag of feed and he gains weight.”
Obesity in horses can lead to laminitis, overheating and numerous other health issues. Ideally, chubby horses should have their nutrition monitored closely. Three good practices to manage these types of easy keepers are:
- Limit their forage first and provide a controlled-calorie horse feed to complete the missing nutrients from the forage. This still allows the horse or pony to feel as though it gets fed, too.
- If monitored well, grazing muzzles work for overweight horses on pastures, allowing them only small bites of grass but maintaining free access to run with the other horses.
- Not surprisingly, most effective is daily exercise. Increasing the amount of calories burned each day reduces the amount that are stored away as fat.
Taking weight off of an easy keeper is no small task, but is well worth it in the long run. Keeping our equine friends fit will help ensure they stay with us for years to come.