Unsound and Overweight Horses

Find out how you can keep your metabolically efficient horse healthy when he’s laid up with an injury or chronic illness.
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Unsound and Overweight Horses
The last thing you want, on top of lameness, is for your injured horse to pack on the pounds. | Photo: iStock

How can you keep your metabolically efficient horse healthy when he’s laid up with injury or chronic illness?

Owning an easy keeper can be a blessing and a curse. On the one hand, there’s the bliss of lower feed bills. On the other, the looming threat of laminitis. It’s particularly challenging when one of these “air ferns” becomes injured or lame and can’t work off his weight. Dropping from high levels of exercise to little or no exercise can wreak havoc on metabolism.

The last thing you want, on top of the lameness, is for your injured horse to pack on the pounds. Weight exacerbates not only metabolic issues but also musculoskeletal ones. So here are some pointers for rehabbing horses while also watching their weight.

What Are the Risks?

There are plenty of reasons to be concerned about your horse putting on weight, especially when he’s recovering from an injury or dealing with a chronic lameness. “Additional weight means more stress on injured areas, even if the horse is only standing still,” says Eleanor M. Kellon, VMD, owner of Equine Nutritional Solutions, in Robesonia, Pennsylvania. “Excess weight also impedes temperature regulation in the heat and makes the heart work harder. Even breathing can be more difficult. The extra weight makes it tougher for the horse during reconditioning and increases the risk of re-injury

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Written by:

Passionate about horses and science from the time she was riding her first Shetland Pony in Texas, Christa Lesté-Lasserre writes about scientific research that contributes to a better understanding of all equids. After undergrad studies in science, journalism, and literature, she received a master’s degree in creative writing. Now based in France, she aims to present the most fascinating aspect of equine science: the story it creates. Follow Lesté-Lasserre on Twitter @christalestelas.

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