Study: Many Owners Don’t Realize Their Horses are Fat

Researchers found a significant difference in how they body condition scored horses compared to the animals’ owners, who tended to underestimate body condition.

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Researchers found that 27.5% of the study horses were significantly overweight or obese, having a score of at least five on the six-point scale. | Photo: iStock

You love your horse just the way he is, despite his imperfections. When it comes to his body condition, though, try to see him through clear, objective eyes. And if possible, check his weight through measurable ways, Swiss researchers say.

“Owners in our study tended to not see the obesity in their horses, although it was obvious to us as objective scientific observers,” said Marie Pfammatter, BSc in agronomics with a specialty in equine sciences, from the Bern University of Applied Sciences School of Agricultural, Forest, and Food Sciences, in Switzerland.

Pfammatter and colleagues visited 51 leisure horses and their owners at their home facilities and asked the owners about their horses’ body condition. They asked them to rate their horses on a scale of one to six, with six being obese. They chose not to use established body condition score indexes so as not to influence the owners’ responses

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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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