OVERWEIGHT HORSES – WHY OVERGRAZING COULD CAUSE HEALTH ISSUES FOR YOUR HORSE

We’ve all heard the saying the grass is always greener, and that’s really the case this summer! It’s no secret that we haven’t had the warmest start to the season, and that’s led to richer, greener pastures for horses across the country. While the grass is looking healthier, however, your horse might not be. Here’s why your horse may be putting on unexpected weight and what that might mean!

Bulking season

Throughout the spring and summer, especially May and June, calorie content in grass is at its highest. This year, an increased level of rainfall has promoted the growth of more plentiful, more calorie-dense pastures, which can lead to your horse putting on weight. If your horse has 24-hour access to graze, they could be consuming much more than the recommended amount of grass, which is around 1 to 3% of their bodyweight.

Why is it bad?

The grass itself shouldn’t be bad for your equine friend, but if they are allowed to graze for too long, it could lead to unintended weight gain. According to the RSPCA, overweight horses and ponies could be more prone to developing laminitis, a painful foot disorder which can be triggered from feeding on lush, higher calorie spring and autumn grass. Read more about laminitis and how to reduce the risk of your horse developing the condition.

What to do

If you’re worried about your overgrazing horse, it’s important to keep them away from grass at certain times. Limiting the number of grazing or turnout hours can reduce their daily calories, while wearing a grazing muzzle can help reduce your horse’s grass intake. If your pony is already getting enough calories from grass, you might want to think about reducing any extra hay or supplemental feed you give them. People are often unaware their horse is overweight until a routine check-up from a vet, so it’s important to regularly check that your horse is at a healthy bodyweight!

If your horse has unintentionally gained weight this year, we hope this blog has helped! Remember to regularly check your horse’s bodyweight and if you’re concerned about your horse’s diet or health, consult your vet before making any changes.

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