Supersize vs Superskinny
 By Twisted Rose   •   18th Jul 2012   •   5,830 views   •   11 comments
We've all looked at articles on laminitis or photo's of neglected skinny horses and felt sympathy for the poor horse, but have we ever considered that a few simple mistakes we make could cause our own horses to get into such a state Maybe that state will be less extreme, but does that make it OK? In today's society, the majority of owners seem to believe that having a horse who is over or underweight is fine, and won't make a difference to its performance or health, when actually, its doing more harm than good. In this article, I will be running through how to check if your horse is overweight, underweight or just right, the possible causes of weight issues, long-term effects and how you can help.

Most people give their horses a condition score of 1-9 to measure the condition (fat) of their horse. I will just give you a basic example of how to condition score a horse.

Have a good look at the neck, withers, shoulders, back, ribs and quarters (see image 1). You can then use the table in Image 2 to give each area an score. You should find that the scores for each section are similar. If not, then get a vets opinion as the horse may have a condition that causes fat storage in certain places, which could require medical help.

Supersize vs Superskinny

Supersize vs Superskinny

Now for the results. If your horse has an overall score of 4-6, then it is healthy, and just needs a balanced diet to maintain that score. A score of 1-3 is underweight, and a score of 7-9 is overweight. Both overweight horses and underweight horses are at risk of many problems, and need to be sorted out!

Supersize (overweight) ponies! If your horse falls into the 7-9 score, it could be at risk of any of the following:

- Laminitis
- Arthritis and joint problems
- Breathing problems
- Equine Metabolic Syndrome
- Cushing's Disease
- Poor performance
- Sweating too much
- Kidney and liver disease
- Insulin resistance
- Glucose intolerance
- Poor circulation and heart failure

Horses become overweight for many reasons, the most common being too much food, or the wrong type of food and lack of excerise. Some breeds are predisposed to putting on weight and therefore require constant weight managing, which many owners fail to do. Each of these reasons can be so easily prevented, yet many people still ignore and go about their normal ways. This is the wrong plan! Here are some simple things you can do to help bring your horse to a healthy condition score:

Regular Exercise :
If your horse has previously gone with little or no excerise, do not just go straight into hard hour-long workouts. Start with gentle hacks in walk and a bit of trot, then build up to it. I will be typing up ways to improve a horses fitness in a later article.

Choosing the Right Feed:
Just feeding a horse less isn't necessarily the answer. Look out for low-calorie feeds, and speak to a nutritionist for advice. They can tell you what types of feed to avoid, and which feeds can help.

Restrict Grazing: This doesn't mean you need to keep your horse in a stable 24/7. Fitting your horse with a grazing muzzle, or turning him out in sparse fields or sand schools can give him fresh air, a bit more excerise, but not too much food!

Superskinny (underweight) ponies. If your horse has an overall score of 1-3, it could be at risk of the following:

- General lethargy
- Poor coat and hooves
- Weakened bones
- Slow metabolic rate
- Low immune system
- Kidney and liver failure
- Poor circulation and heart failure

Some owners find that it's really difficult to keep weight on some ponies. This could be because of tooth problems, worm burdens, digestive problems, boredom, depression, stress and pain. These all sound like tricky obsticles to overcome, but in reality, they have simple and obvious methods to help.

Teeth Checked:
Having your horses teeth checked regularly will help ensure that there are no problems that will effect your horses eating habits. This should be done yearly as a precaution, however if you think your horses teeth are to blame, get a farrier over to take a look.

Organize regular worm counts, and don't forget to worm your horse! Most horses require worming 4 times per year but the frequency depends on many factors such as age of the horse, type of pasture, how many other horses are on the same pasture, whether droppings are collected from the pasture, etc.

Feed Quality:
Make sure your feed is of the best quality available to you, it will be worth that extra bit of money. You also need to ensure that it is stored exactly how it says on the label, so it stays fresh and dry. You wouldn't like eating damp, mouldy food, would you? Well horses don't particularly like it either. Also, don't just go and buy any feed, buy specific to your horses needs. If he's a veteran, feed a veteran feed. If you're unsure about what to feed your pony, go to a feed store and ask to speak to a nutritionist. You need to take everything into account. How often is he ridden, and how hard do you work him? Does he usually have too much energy, or too little? Tell the nutritionist everything you think will be useful.

Feed Times:
Make meal times as stress free as you can. Don't feed in the field where other horses can steal food and cause horses to eat faster than normal. Allow your horse to eat in peace in a familiar place. You can try giving your horse a haynet to keep calm while he's waiting for the hard feed, or use a tickle feeder to prevent the horse from bolting his food.

Even if your horse falls into the 4-6 category, it's still important to regularly evaluate his condition. Even if you think you're feeding your horse perfectly, it won't hurt to check that your feeding is right. A balanced feeding regime will help your horse preform its best, and keep it looking and feeling great!
Horse News More In This Category:  Care and Grooming      Horse News More From This Author:  Twisted Rose
Warped Faith  
Great article! This is very imformative and many horse ownerswill benefit from it. I hope you continue making articles similiar to this :)
  Jul 19, 2012  •  5,282 views
Que Sara  
Great article!!

Not sure on trusting the farrier to check the teeth though unless he's got extra qualifications for dentistry!!
  Jul 19, 2012  •  5,332 views
Double Spur Ranch  
Very great article!
  Jul 19, 2012  •  5,295 views
Mutley Jackson  
PHEW! People say to rate your horse, but i don't know what is in each category!! Hahaha, Mutley is probably a 6 :L Fat poneh...
  Jul 20, 2012  •  5,336 views
Polish Arabs  
Great news article! We just had our horses' teeth done this week. :)
  Jul 21, 2012  •  5,302 views
Awesome article, thank you for sharing. =)
  Jul 21, 2012  •  5,703 views
C H O S E N  
Wow, great article :) Now I know what to do if I get a horse someday.
  Jul 21, 2012  •  5,312 views
not everybody thinks about how an overweight horse can be neglected too!!! thanks for the article
  Jul 27, 2012  •  5,531 views
Foxchase Farm  
This is very helpful! I look forward to more articles like this :)
  Jul 28, 2012  •  5,320 views
Very cool!
  Aug 3, 2012  •  5,291 views
Bright Horizon  
Good perspective.
  Aug 7, 2012  •  5,319 views
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