My Horse is Skinny. What Should I Do?

Do you have a skinny horse? Here are some tips you can use to help him return to an ideal weight.
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By Fernanda Camargo, DVM, PhD; Laurie Lawrence, PhD; and Bob Coleman, MS, PhD, PAS, of the University of Kentucky Department of Animal and Food Sciences

As we understand more about the impact that obesity and emaciation have on animal health, it is imperative that we strive to keep our horses at an optimum body condition. We’ve learned how to body condition score (BCS) our horses, so let’s take a look at what horses with a BCS of 4 or lower might look like:

my horse is too skinny
Horse with ribs scoring below 5. | Photo: Courtesy Dr. Fernanda Camargo
my horse is too skinny
Horse with withers scoring below 5. | Photo: Courtesy Dr. Fernanda Camargo
my horse is too skinny
Horse with tailhead scoring below 5. | Photo: iStock
my horse is too skinny
Horse with shoulders scoring below 5. | Photo: Courtesy Dr. Fernanda Camargo
my horse is too skinny
Horse with loin area scoring below 5. | Photo: Courtesy Dr. Fernanda Camargo
my horse is too skinny
Horse with neck scoring below 5. | Photo: Courtesy Dr. Fernanda Camargo

Here are some tips on how to help your horse gain weight.

Think about calories first.

A mature horse will gain weight and condition when the number of calories it consumes is greater than the number of calories it uses. Therefore, to increase body condition the horse must either increase calorie intake or decrease calorie use (or both). Calories are important to muscle gain as well as fat gain, so the diet’s calorie value is important

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