Weight Loss for Hefty Horses

Learn how to help your overweight horse shed pounds in a safe and healthy way.
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Weight Loss for Hefty Horses
Because equine obesity is a welfare issue, it’s important to take steps to get and keep your horse at a healthy weight. | Photo: iStock

If you’re reading this, you likely have one or more fat horses on your farm. In fact, recent study and survey results show that 30-51% of horses in the United States and the U.K. are overconditioned. Because equine obesity is a welfare issue, it’s important to take steps to get and keep your horse at a healthy weight.

During the University of Maryland’s webinar series, Amy Burk, PhD, extension equine specialist and associate professor and coordinator of the university’s Equine Studies program, offered practical weight loss strategies for overweight horses.

She defined equine obesity as fat accumulation on a horse’s body to the degree that it can cause health problems. On the 1-to-9 Henneke body condition scoring (BCS) scale (where 1 is emaciated and 9 is extremely fat), that equates to a BCS of 7 or higher. Ideally, she said, you want your horse to score somewhere in the 4 to 6 range

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Alexandra Beckstett, a native of Houston, Texas, is a lifelong horse owner who has shown successfully on the national hunter/jumper circuit and dabbled in hunter breeding. After graduating from Duke University, she joined Blood-Horse Publications as assistant editor of its book division, Eclipse Press, before joining The Horse. She was the managing editor of The Horse for nearly 14 years and is now editorial director of EquiManagement and My New Horse, sister publications of The Horse.

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