Today we want to share 4 ways to help your horse lose weight. With a responsibility to maintain a happy and healthy horse, staying on top of their diet will help ensure you can sustain their weight. For horse’s who live outdoors, their natural lifestyle consists of losing weight over the colder months when food isn’t as readily available, accumulating fat stores over the summer when food is aplenty. Whatever your horse’s lifestyle, stay on top of weight to keep them in prime condition and ensure they are living a healthy life. We’ve pulled together our top tips on shedding the pounds to remove any extra weight that may have built up.
1. Keep them moving
Increase the daily level of activity for your horse, getting them more active without overworking their body. It’s time to swap the horse turnout rugs for exercise rugs and head out and about, getting them moving to burn off some calories. If your horse is not used to riding, keep things simple and head out for a walk around the surrounding area to engage their body and get them used to the movement. By making this a regular and creating a fitness routine that works in line with your schedule, you will be able to notice the difference in no time.
However, if your horse doesn’t follow your commands, you should find out what the reason is. Maybe the gear is uncomfortable, or there are some health issues you are not aware of. For this, you first book a visit with a vet, and if no health issues are found can start using a close contact horse saddle pad, which will improve the fit of your pet’s saddle as it allows a more secure fit than regular pads.
2. Minimise food intake
Although this may feel like a harsh approach, take things slow to prevent your horse from noticing the difference. Gradually wean them off any unnecessary feed which is not providing them with essential nutrients, cutting down the number of calories they consume on a daily basis to help them shift some weight. When cutting out food, ensure that they are still consuming the levels of nutrients they need with pelleted vitamins and minerals, providing suitable supplements to keep them healthy and avoid malnourishment.
3. Prevent grazing
With grazing being a huge part of your horse’s daily lifestyle, it is a big contributor to their overall weight. For horses who spend their day out in the field, it is borderline impossible to monitor and control how much grass they are consuming, being a natural instinct for them to graze throughout the course of the day. To minimise their consumption, try out a grazing muzzle which prevents a significant chunk of intake whilst still allowing them to enjoy a much smaller amount of grazing. Similarly, try moving them to a location which naturally has less grass available, such as one where sheep have been, to prevent them from overeating.
4. Soak your forage
The hay you feed your horse should be analysed to see if the levels of carbohydrates and starch are suitable for your horse. For many horse owners, they choose to soak the hay in water for anywhere up to twelve hours to reduce sugar content, carbohydrates, potassium and dust. Although this is an easy way to remove any unwanted extras, it is important to not soak the hay for too long as this can strip the nutrients and leave your horse with less than they need.