A familiar phrase I’m hearing at the moment! Is it just me or has the grass suddenly shot up and our horses are looking a bit…….well???
Think how you feel when you put on a few extra pounds!….. Tired, sluggish, increased aches and pains? Do your clothes still fit? Does your back ache? Feet swell?….. What do you do about it…..diet, increase exercise, buy bigger clothes that fit? Unfortunately horses are unable to make these wise choices we as humans can!
We spend the whole of winter weighing out hay and feed wishing for summer…… Then spend the whole summer worrying about the grass and the excess pounds our horses are carrying!
Sound familiar?? Certainly does to me! Weight is always something I talk about during an assessment if I feel there is an issue! (That includes those that look a bit poor too!)
So luckily for me my clients are really receptive to comments and management suggestions! From a Physio point of view excess weight can cause saddle issues, excess weight can cause increased loading through the limb joints, not to mention the effect those big bellies have on the gait and biomechanics of the horse!
We all live in fear of LAMINITIS! 😥😥 so prevention has got to be better than cure!! Oh and a lot cheaper!!!
So what can we as owners do…….
- Think about keeping a record of your horses weight, measure by the girth and then behind their belly on a weekly basis as an objective measure.
- Bald paddocks are great, but let’s be honest on a livery yard we often need to ‘make do’ with what we have, so that leads me on to grazing muzzles! I have not met one person yet who is actually happy using one on their horse, but they are an effective way of managing your horses grass intake! Especially if your grass is lush!
- Soak your hay! Even soaking for 60 minutes will remove significant amounts of sugar as long as the water is clean and fresh!
- Exercise!!! Try increasing your horses workload, longer hacks and schooling sessions, – try lungeing as well if you are short of time!
- Stop the hard feed! Lots of feeds are high in sugars! If your horse is on a balancer make sure it is a ‘light’ balancer, and remember mints, carrots and apples are full of sugar!
Have a look at the fat score chart…..how does your horse measure up?