What is it
Horses naturally lose weight in the winter when the grass is poor and put on weight in the spring and summer. This is as it should be!
However, it is important to monitor a horses weight to ensure they are not overweight or obese but also not too thin. Body scoring and/or weigh tapes are a good way of doing this.
Horses can lose weight for a number of reasons and these should be considered and if necessary the vet consulted.
- Body score under 3
- Protruding ribs
- Protruding back bone
- Dropping food when eating (quidding) may suggest teeth problems
- Poor diet or poor quality diet
- Insufficient food for work done and/or age etc.
- Tooth problems
- Cold - horses use energy to keep warm, thus use up calories
- Chronic illness or disease
- Bullying (ie: not being allowed to hay in field)
If the weight loss is sudden Call the Vet. They will be able to conduct blood tests to identify any health issues which may be the cause. You may wish to talk to your vet anyway for advice.
This will depend upon cause of weight loss but may include some or all of the following:
- Visit from a qualified Equine Dental Technician
- Assess horses feeding requirements - see my blog for some guidance
- Increased roughage
- Increased protein
- Feed sugarbeet
- Add oil to feed
- A rug
- As mentioned above a horses weight should be monitored regularly with weigh tapes and body condition scoring.
- Feed according to work done - as work is increased follow with an increase in feed.
- Use regular worm counts and worm when necessary.
- Regular visits from a Dental Technician will help keep a horses teeth in good condition.
- Allow a horse to be a horse to reduce stress, plenty of turnout and trickle feeding!
It is important to remember that, as I mentioned at the beginning of my blog, horses do and should lose weight in the winter - this is the natural way of things - allowing them the capacity to put weight on when the grass shoots in the spring. However, excessive weight loss should be addressed.
In winter 2014/15 Chesney became very thin and had blood tests. It took well over a year for him to return to a healthy weight.
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Until next time!