With Spring just around the corner is your horse going into it with too much weight?
Let’s be honest, we like to keep our horses nice and ’round’ through the winter. We feed high energy, sweet grain feeds, adlib hay and we rug them up nice and toasty?
Well, Mother Natures way is actually the opposite, she likes to slim them off in the winter with the cold weather and the scarce natural food supply.
This is the natural preparation for the abundance of Spring and Summer…
So how do you avoid the fear of going into the Spring too ‘fat’ risking the dreaded ‘Laminitis’
Well, unfortunately, and inevitably an increasing number of horses and ponies will go down with this debilitating condition this year, but you can do something about it NOW to help prevent your horse or pony from having to experience this painful condition if they are overweight.
Don’t delay start TODAY!
1. Remove all grain/sugar feeds from the diet (Reduce over 7-10 day period).
2. Weight your hay, it is not recommended that you feed adlib unless your horse is naked and out 24/7.
3. An average 500kg horse in light work should be getting 90% of its appetite as forage. However, if he is overweight then 100% of his appetite should be satisfied with forage only.
4. Work out their appetite as follows:
2.5% of his bodyweight, so for a 500kg horse this is 12.5kg for 100%, so 90% is 11.25kg of hay. The 10% should be made up of a forage-based concentrate.
5. If your horse is overweight you can reduce the energy value (DE) by soaking or steaming their hay. This reduces the calories but still allows for their appetite.
6. If your horses are not clipped, do not put on too many rugs. I know it sounds tough but remember, shivering is natures way of using calories. A good lightweight is adequate to protect them from wind and rain.
7. Increase exercise to work off those extra calories.
8. If you need to feed, try feeding a high fibre, low starch feed with less than 3% sugar/starch and less than 10 MJ DE/kg.
Slimming horses down before winter can be challenging, however, making use of the weather, more exercise and less feed should go some way to helping to reduce the weight.
By Sandra Murphy BSc (Hons) EqSpSc Equine Nutritional Hydrotherapist