Wellbeing - A big issue
Written by Alexandra Wesker on 25 July, 2016
As published in Horse & Rider Magazine, May 2015 issue.
Keep your horse in good shape this summer by paying attention to his diet and exercise. Two experts offer their advice.
As the warmer weather approaches and the grass starts to grow, many of us struggle to keep our horses at a healthy weight. Some horses only have to look at the spring grass to pile on the pounds, but how concerned should you really be and what changes can you make to ensure he stays fit, not fat?
“The only way for a horse to get fat is if the energy he consumes exceeds the energy he expends,” says independent equine nutritionist Alexandra Wesker.
“Equally, the only way for him to lose fat is if the energy he consumes is less than the energy he expends. The amount of energy consumed is increased by your horse eating more or eating feed with a higher energy content, whereas expended energy rises when he exercises more or if the exercise is more intensive.”
Like humans, some horses are more prone to weight gain than others. If that sounds familiar, it’s important to be vigilant about the amount of feed and exercise he is getting.
“Typically, native breeds are more prone to being overweight, because they’ve evolved to withstand harsh winters, poor grazing and exposure to the elements,” says the Mare And Foal Sanctuary’s Sian Morris.
“Today’s domesticated horses often have a higher calorie intake because they have access to highquality grazing, hay or haylage and hard feed. In addition, they are often only in light work, which means they don’t burn many calories or maintain muscle tone.”
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