How To Get A Horse To Lose Weight? (TOP 5 Tips)

Here are a few tips to help your horse lose weight:

  1. Get exercising. Even if your horse isn’t ridden, you can lunge, long rein, use horse walkers, track systems, or walk in-hand to help them burn a few calories.
  2. Reduce hard food intake.
  3. Restrict grazing.
  4. Look at forage.
  5. Don’t starve your horse.

How fast can a horse lose weight?

The general guideline for MAXIMUM safe weight loss is 3% of an animal’s weight per week, though 1-2% is probably safer to shoot for unless there is an emergency condition where the animal must loose weight quickly. For a 1200lb horse, the max, at 3% would be 36 lbs a week, though 12-24 is a better goal.

How much exercise should my horse do to lose weight?

What are the best exercises for horses to lose weight? Daily exercise is important! Just 30 minutes of walking and trotting can help improve fitness and encourage weight loss. Work under saddle will burn more calories.

How do you put a horse on a diet?


  1. Monitor how much your horse eats. Horses at an ideal body weight usually consume about 2 percent of their body weight in feed (includes hay, grain products and supplements) daily.
  2. Feed mature hay.
  3. Slow down feed intake.
  4. Slow-feed hay nets.
  5. Specially designed grain feeders.
  6. Feed obstacles.
  7. Feeding order.

How do you slim down an easy keeper horse?

A combination of diet and exercise is needed to shed extra weight from the easy keeper. Weight loss can only be accomplished by reducing the number of calories going in and increasing the number of calories expended. One of the best options for weight loss is regular exercise, provided the horse is sound and healthy.

Why is my horse so fat?

So, they too, are often being fed way too many calories in relation to calorie need or burn. If we also look at the quality of nutrition provided for most horses, it is subpar, at least in my opinion. Many overweight horses are fed lower quality hays, which may include grass hay, fescue and even some bermuda.

Where do horses lose weight first?

Make sure to remove winter blankets and run a hand over your horse from ears to hoof to monitor his weight manually. Pay close attention to his back, ribs and croup (in that order), as these are the first three areas to lose weight.

Does soaking hay help horses lose weight?

The results of this study found that soaked hays used as the primary forage in obese horses and ponies was associated with an increase of weight loss compared to the predicted loss had the hay been fed fresh. The animals fed the soaked hay for 6 weeks ended up losing 0.98 +/-‐ 0.10% of their body mass weekly.

Can I lose weight riding a horse?

A study carried out by The British Horse Society in 2011 revealed that riding can expend sufficient energy to be classed as moderate-intensity exercise. An hour’s schooling session or group lesson burns off 360 calories – the equivalent to an hour peddling up to 10mph on a cycle ride.

How do you get rid of grass belly in horses?

If your horse appears to have a hay belly, consult your veterinarian for advice on a high-quality diet protocol. 2 If your horse is on pasture, your vet may suggest supplementing its grazing with nutrient-dense, high-quality hay and may also suggest a protein supplement in the form of a concentrate feed.

Does grass make horses fat?

Just like he can eat too many carrots, too much hay, too much feed, a horse can certainly eat too much grass. It’s very likely that he will become a fat horse! Keeping this in mind, when it comes to pasture grazing, horses tend to go all out.

How do I get my horse in shape?

5 Ways To Improve Your Horse’s Fitness

  1. Lunging or long reining. You shouldn’t lunge five times a week or for longer than 20-30 minutes depending on your horse and their current fitness level, but done correctly, lunging once or twice a week can be a very useful tool in developing fitness.
  2. Gymnastics and Poles.

How do horses stay in great shape they have a diet?

Horses’ stomachs are designed for this type of life: they eat all day long and in small doses, which keeps their guts constantly active to break down food. This helps create an efficient digestive tract that not only gets nutrients out as efficiently as possible but also makes them feel good while doing it!

What hay is best for fat horses?

Overweight horses generally do not need the best hay money can buy, but they do need hay that is free of mold, dust, weeds, and other extraneous material. A mid-quality grass hay that has been properly harvested will usually work well.

Are Warmblood horses easy keepers?

Mature warmbloods are often easy keepers, and without proper care they tend to become overweight. As with most other horses, warmbloods should be fed a diet consisting largely of forage such as pasture or hay. Some warmbloods may not require any concentrate, regardless of their workload.

What’s the Best Weight Loss Plan for My Horse? – The Horse

In addition to being easy to care for, my dominant gelding has managed to gain weight this summer, increasing from a body condition score (BCS) of 5 to a 7 on the body condition score (BCS) scale. The moment your farrier inquires as to whether or not your gelding is pregnant, you know you have a problem! I’ve now secluded him from the rest of my herd in an attempt to keep his weight under control. His food consists primarily of grass, with only a small amount of alfalfa pellets to mix along with his vitamins.


The first step in developing a management plan, which you have already completed, is to conduct a body condition score in order to ascertain precisely how overweight he is.

A BCS of 4 to 6 used to be considered optimal, however more recent research has revealed that a BCS of 7 is actually considered overweight.

The scoring system for body condition may be found in our article “Evaluating Your Horse’s Body Condition.” (Editor’s note: For more information on body condition scoring, see our article “Evaluating Your Horse’s Body Condition.”) Following the completion of the BCS and identification of the problem, the following procedures should be completed:

  1. Calculate the weight of your horse’s body. The nutritional needs of an individual are determined by their body weight and physiologic condition, such as light work, growth, pregnancy, and so on. Weight tapes are a useful instrument for assessing body weight and demonstrating a relative growth or reduction over an extended period of time. However, I prefer to employ a calculation based on the size of the heart and the length from the point of shoulder to the point of buttock to ensure more precision. Calculate your body weight once a month to keep track of your progress. Measure the diameter of your heart girth and the circumference of your stomach. At first glance, they may be more accurate markers of weight reduction than BCS. According to studies, you may not see much of a difference in BCS during the first couple of months, but you may notice a difference in heart girth and belly circumference, which indicates weight loss at this time. Being able to watch these improvements even when BCS does not appear to be changing will help you stay motivated as you work to manage your horse’s weight reduction and fitness goals. To keep track of your progress, take these measures once a month. Weigh everything you’re currently giving your horse to be sure it’s all equal. As a starting point, limit hay intake to 1.5 percent of your horse’s current body weight, and gradually increase this amount. This will lower calorie consumption while still providing adequate nutrition for gastrointestinal health. If no weight reduction has occurred after two months, lower hay consumption to 1.25 percent of body weight. However, do not restrict overall forage intake to less than 1 percent of body weight because this can result in gastrointestinal troubles as well as boredom, both of which can lead to wood chewing, bedding eating, and/or dung consumption, among other things. Remove all grain and excessive treats from your diet if you’re currently feeding less than 1.5 percent of your body weight. Look for forage with a lower nutritional grade (see below). While one carrot per day is unlikely to do significant harm, every calorie counts, and it is preferable to increase the amount of calories available through hay rather than consume daily calorie intake through snacks. As a result, reduce the amount of unneeded treats you give your horse and remove any calories from treats from his overall calorie intake. Additional sources of calories should be eliminated from the ration, including sweet feed, senior feed, beet pulp, rice bran, and even feeds with minimal nonstructural carbohydrate content (such as soybean meal). Only the aration balancer is an exception to this rule. One major issue with limiting feed intake to reduce calorie intake is that you are not only reducing calorie intake, but you are also reducing the intake of protein as well as essential minerals and vitamins. It is necessary to supplement forage with a high-quality protein source as well as vitamins and minerals if the forage has low nutritional value. In fact, if you do not consume enough protein, you may see a reduction in lean muscle mass. Commercial ration balancer pellets are often low in calories while being high in protein, vitamins, and minerals, according to the manufacturer. The quality of your horse’s pasture determines whether or not he requires additional vitamins and minerals. You might want to think about substituting a ration balancer for your alfalfa pellets, and you should choose your forage sources carefully. Ideally, you should get your hay analyzed so that you know precisely what you’re feeding your animals. When you are trying to cut back on your intake, this is really crucial. In addition, good hays for overweight horses have a lower leaf-to-stem ratio and a poorer nutritional content overall. However, this does not imply that the hay is moldy or dusty
  2. Rather, it indicates that the hay was gathered at a later period, when it was more ripe and hence less nutritious. Compared to leafier hay gathered at an earlier stage, you will be able to provide a greater amount of this type of hay to your animals. Grass hays are a fantastic alternative for horses who are overweight. If your horse is overweight, avoid feeding him alfalfa hay since it has a greater calorie content per pound than grass hay. Grain hays should also be avoided. My latest testing included various varieties of Timothy hay that were fairly old and had minimal nutritional value, all of which would be suitable for your circumstance. However, in general, no one type of grass hay is superior to another
  3. Rather, it will rely on the horse’s development in terms of cutting and harvesting procedures. Restriction on pasture access. It might be difficult to monitor calorie intake when your horse is out on pasture since you have no means of knowing what or how much he is taking at any given time. And, regrettably, we can’t rely on horses to keep their consumption under control. It is possible that decreasing turnout hours will result in increased consumption rates and no weight reduction. Turnout, on the other hand, allows for more flexibility of movement, which is beneficial for all horses, but especially for those that are overweight. As a result, if you send your horse out on pasture, consider employing a grazing muzzle, which has been demonstrated to significantly reduce grass consumption and, consequently, calories. I would argue that if you’ve ever seen a horse suffering from laminitis, a grazing muzzle would certainly be considered a compassionate alternative to utilizing a halter. The muzzle provides for pasture access, mobility, and social connection while yet maintaining control over the intake of nutrients. Get your body moving. If your horse has received a clean bill of health and is able to be worked, gradually increase his work load and integrate lots of trot and long, slow canter sets into his routine. This may have the greatest impact of everything you do. To lose weight, one’s calorie intake must be less than one’s calorie expenditure. While it is often important to reduce the number of calories taken, increasing the number of calories burnt each day may result in you not needing to reduce your intake as much. Restricting feed consumption can induce a decrease in the horse’s metabolic rate
  4. In essence, their bodies learn how to function on less, making weight reduction more difficult to accomplish. Increased activity helps to increase metabolism, which may allow you to maintain a greater level of feed intake while your horse continues to lose weight. Take into consideration removing the bedding. When stalling and housing horses on straw or shavings, it may be necessary to remove the bedding and replace it with rubber mats solely. Horses will readily consume straw, and when on a weight-loss diet, they have been observed to consume worrisome quantities of shavings as well. In addition to being counterproductive to your calorie-reduction efforts, shavings may have unintended digestive implications in the case of certain individuals.

As for how long until you start to see effects, this varies with each horse. Be patient; losing weight should not be rushed. According to the researchers, one BCS score is similar to ingesting 400 Mcal’s of digestible energy in one day. According to this equation, if you lower your horse’s hay consumption by 2 pounds per day, it will take him 200 days to decline from a BCS of 7 to a BCS of 6, assuming that a pound of superior quality grass hay equals around 1 Mcal. Although it may be tempting to cut daily consumption by bigger amounts, bear in mind that a horse’s gastrointestinal health requires that he ingest at least 1 percent of his body weight in grass on a daily basis.

If your horse has not lost weight after many months, your veterinarian may recommend a short course of levothyroxine to help accelerate metabolism and weight reduction.

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The Biggest Loser: Horse Weight Loss Guide for Beginners

It might be difficult to get your horse to a healthy weight and keep it that way. In this post, we will explore the health issues associated with overweight horses, the diet and exercise components of equine weight reduction, as well as instances of how to objectively monitor your horse’s progress in shedding pounds. To ensure that you have a thorough knowledge of the subject matter, we have provided commonly asked questions pertaining to certain themes. Weight gain in horses occurs when the amount of calories consumed exceeds the amount of calories expended.

Make a list of the aspects you can influence, choose a strategy for tracking your progress, and apply changes gradually for the greatest effects.

What Makes Horses Obese?

While horse weight concerns might be highly complicated, the underlying mathematics is straightforward. It is critical to begin with the big picture and then drill down into the specifics in order to find the best strategy for achieving and maintaining a healthy weight. If calorie intake exceeds calorie expenditure, weight gain will happen as a result of the imbalance. Image courtesy of Canva In the long run, this might result in a horse being overweight, if not obese. Overweight horses are more susceptible to additional health problems, so it is in their best interests if you take steps to ensure that they live a long and healthy life as well.

  • Whether or whether they have access to turnout Into the pasture
  • How many times are they fed during the day
  • What exactly is included in the diet
  • How many times a week do they exercise, and what exactly do they do during that time
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After that, determine what is within your power to influence:

  • Is it your boarding stable that dictates the feed, or is it you? Is there a way to increase turnout? Describe the sort of exercise you are capable of delivering each week. What method do you use to keep track of your horse’s weight?

Too Much or the Wrong Food

The digestive tract of a horse is designed to process little amounts of food during the course of the day. Because it is more convenient for us, humans often break their feedings into two parts: the morning and the evening. The horse will benefit from smaller, more frequent meals if you are able to provide them. For the most part, horses are fed hay and grain as part of their daily diet. Hay is a feed that replicates what they would eat in the wild and is available in a variety of kinds based on your geographic area and tastes.

As compared to alfalfa hay, grass hay is fewer in calories, less rich in nutrients, and has less protein.

The practice of feeding by volume rather than weight is a typical blunder.

You may not have realized that maize test weight readings may range from 45 lbs/bushel all the way up to 60 lbs/bushel.

Because your feed manufacturer does not know what size scoop you are using, they rely on weight as a measurement rather than volume to determine the amount of feed to be delivered. Image courtesy of Canva For the sake of illustration, the following is an extreme case:

  • Consider the following scenario: a scoop of sweet feed ordinarily weighs 1.5 lbs
  • However, the producer alters the recipe, and that same scoop now weighs 2 lbs
  • And Due to this, Fluffy is consuming as much as 25 percent more calories at each meal, which may quickly accumulate.

Horses have a variety of varied metabolic rates. Some people are “easy keepers,” while others are “hard keepers,” depending on their personality. Feeding a reduced calorie feed and ensuring that the quantity you are feeding still satisfies vitamin and mineral requirements are important considerations while keeping an easy keeper in mind. As a result of the greater caloric requirements of hard keepers, it is unlikely that they would be the ideal solution for an overweight horse.

Lack of Exercise

Horses in the wild move around a lot because they have to forage across big areas of land in order to obtain enough food. The importance of physical activity cannot be overstated for both physical and mental wellbeing. If you have limited access to turnout for your horse, it is critical that you include exercise in your horse’s daily regimen. Hand-walking, yearning, and riding are examples of such activities. It is important to examine how much exercise is included in a horse’s daily routine and gradually increase it in order to promote his or her health and well-being.

Illness or Injury

If a horse is injured or gets ill, the amount of time spent exercising on a daily basis may be reduced. This decrease in exercise should be taken into consideration when calculating feed rations, particularly in the case of an injury necessitating stall rest. Image courtesy of Canva Imagine that a performance horse used to daily turnout and under-saddle work on five days per week suffers from tendonitis and is forced to spend six weeks in stall rest because of the injury. A review of the daily feed ration should be conducted in order to adjust it to the reduced workload and avoid weight gain.

Risks of Horse Obesity

An fat horse is at greater danger in a variety of situations. These are some examples:

  • Greater stress on joints, tendons, ligaments and hooves, which increases the likelihood of damage
  • Higher risk of injury
  • Heart and circulatory function are impaired. Increased risk of metabolic illnesses such as laminitis and Cushing’s disease
  • Increased risk of diabetes. It is becoming more difficult to chill the body. Fatty tumors, which can increase the risk of colic in some animals

Image courtesy of Canva

How to Tell if Your Horse is Overweight

When you are in the habit of seeing your horse on a daily basis, it might be easy to overlook progressive weight increase in them. Inquire with your veterinarian for an unbiased, third-party perspective. Learning how to weigh your horse using a weight tape is beneficial because it enables you to objectively measure your horse on a regular basis, which is important for training purposes.

Getting a Baseline and Setting Goals

First, determine your baseline body condition score, which is a number between 1 and 9, with 1 being exceedingly lean and 9 representing highly obese. Horses should be in the 4 to 6 year old range, however this might vary based on the job and workload of the horse in question. After that, you may use a weight tape to establish a more precise baseline for your horse. Weigh your horse with a tape measure on a regular and consistent basis, and keep track of the results to track changes over time.

Another way is to take monthly photographs of your horse from the same vantage point in order to track his improvement.

This may be a very effective method of visualizing transformation. Consult with an equine nutritionist to establish realistic objectives for your horse; you don’t want to make drastic modifications to your horse’s diet at this time.

How do you weigh a horse?

The majority of individuals do not have access to a scale that is large enough to weigh a horse properly. Instead, spend roughly $5 on a weight tape to use as a training aid. When used properly, a weight tape may be a relatively precise method of weighing your horse and tracking changes in his weight. The following video demonstrates how to use weight tape:

How long does it take for a horse to lose weight?

For a horse to lose weight, the amount of time it takes depends on the amount of weight that needs to be shed, the horse’s physical capabilities, and the frequency with which it may be exercised. An overweight horse with no underlying issues, such as a healthy horse that is slightly overweight, will be able to reduce weight more quickly than an obese horse with a history of lameness.

The Basics: How can I get my horse to lose weight?

In order to lose weight in a healthy manner, it is necessary to follow both a diet and an exercise regimen.

Change What or How You Feed

A hay net with small holes is quite beneficial in slowing down the rate at which your horse consumes his hay. Additionally, because it helps to keep forage moving through the digestive tract, it is more beneficial to them. Consider implementing a forage-at-your-own-risk scheme. Reduce the amount of concentrates your horse consumes, such as grain, gradually, while ensuring that he continues to receive appropriate vitamins and minerals. What do you feed a horse that is overweight? It is critical to forage!

Reduce the amount of high-calorie concentrates, such as grain, gradually.

(Alternatively, a handful of hay can be used for the horse biscuit.) Is it possible to get horse weight loss supplements?

These are some examples:

  • Chrome (a trace mineral)
  • L-carnitene (an amino acid)
  • Zinc (a trace mineral)
  • Copper (a trace mineral)

For horses suffering from metabolic disorders such as Cushing’s Disease or Equine Metabolic Syndrome, see your veterinarian to determine whether a medicine or nutritional supplement may be beneficial.

Change Your Exercise Routine

Exercise can help a horse that is overweight or obese to achieve and maintain a healthy weight over the long haul by boosting its activity level. Take a look at your existing fitness plan and make any necessary modifications. Do you like to do slow trail rides instead? Consider including some lunging to increase your cardio. What is the best way for obese horses to get in shape? Horses that are overweight should gradually increase the amount of physical activity they do each day. It is essential to make gradual modifications in order to avoid harm.

  • What are the greatest activities for horses to do in order to shed some pounds?
  • Walking and trotting for 30 minutes can help you lose weight while also improving your fitness level and losing weight.
  • It’s important to give your horse plenty of time to warm up and cool down; remember that overweight horses have a more difficult time cooling their bodies.
  • When it comes to increasing exercise and weight reduction, lunging a horse may be a very useful technique.
  • Identify and address underlying health concerns Check with your doctor before starting a new diet or fitness routine to ensure that you are not ignoring any pre-existing health conditions.

If you have any queries regarding your horse’s skills or limitations, you should consult with your veterinarian.

The Extremes: How can an obese horse lose weight?

A horse that is overweight should be put on a weight loss program that combines both nutrition and exercise. Modifications should be made gradually; you never want to make drastic changes to your horse’s diet at one time. Exercise will be challenging (at least at initially), and the amount of time spent exercising should be gradually increased. In addition to being overworked, the fat horse’s heart and lungs are suffering from added strain. It is also more difficult for the horse’s body to cool down as a result of the extra fat.

Image courtesy of Canva

Frequently Asked Questions

Preventing weight gain is always more straightforward than implementing a weight loss program. Make sure to give hay and grain by weight rather than volume, to check your horse’s bodily condition on a regular (and objective) basis, and to alter feed amounts based on effort.

What can cause rapid weight loss in horses?

It is possible to lose weight quickly due to dental issues, parasites, or illness. If you suspect any of these problems, you should consult your veterinarian.

Can worms in horses cause weight loss?

Horses might have weight loss as a result of parasites. Consult your veterinarian if you suspect an infestation. A fecal egg count test can be used to swiftly determine the most appropriate treatment option.

Does Cushing’s cause weight loss in horses?

Cushing’s disease is caused by a malfunctioning of the pituitary gland, and it is more typically detected in horses that are older than five years old. Long hair that does not shed away in the spring, muscular loss, a “potbelly” look, fatty deposits around the neck, and laminitis are all typical signs. While the potbelly and cresty neck may give the impression that the horse is gaining weight, weight loss can also be a sign of the condition. Veterinary care should be sought if you suspect your horse may be suffering from Cushing’s disease, as it can only be controlled, not cured.

Is grass more fattening than hay?

Pasture has more nutrients than hay, thus a horse on pasture will gain weight more quickly than a horse that is exclusively on hay. If your horse is gaining weight or becoming overweight, he should be denied access to the pastures. Reduce the number of hours spent on pasture each day or invest in a grazing muzzle to help your animals consume less. Amazon has grazing muzzles, which you can view by clicking here.

How quickly can a horse lose weight?

Horses may shed weight fast, but doing so is not good for them. Only make moderate modifications to the diet in order to assist healthy weight reduction while reducing the risk of colic as a result of feed changes (for example, the maximum change when switching grain sources should be 10 percent per day).

How much weight can a horse lose in a week?

Ponies and horses can be very different in size—a Clydesdale can safely drop more pounds in a week than a Shetland pony, for example. It is critical to establish a baseline that is specific to your horse’s needs and to work with your veterinarian to develop a strategy to help your horse lose weight. It is possible that if you reduce calories too quickly, the horse’s body will go into “starvation mode” and limit its metabolism, making weight loss even more difficult.

To lose weight in a healthy manner, make tiny, incremental modifications to your diet and gradually increase your physical activity.

Where do horses lose weight first?

Horses tend to lose weight in their backs, ribs, and croup first, before losing weight everywhere else.

Parting Thoughts

Overweight horses are subjected to a variety of health problems. If you believe your horse is overweight, the first step is to honestly assess your horse’s present condition. After that, determine which aspects are under your control and devise a food and exercise program that is suited to your horse’s specific requirements. Keep track of your progress and seek the advice of a qualified equestrian specialist if you have any questions.P.S. Did you find this article interesting? Go to the following address:

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  • Horse obesity is a significant public health concern in the horse business. Horses who are overweight are more susceptible to sickness, overheating, and poor performance. Horses can achieve a healthy body weight by restricting their food and gradually introducing regular exercise. Keep track of your horse’s body weight on a regular basis. Scores of 4 to 6 on the body condition scale are considered ideal.

Is my horse overweight?

There are a variety of ways available to detect whether or not your horse is overweight. Working with an equine nutritionist and veterinarian to develop a body weight loss program if more than one of these measures reveals that your horse is overweight is recommended.

Body condition score

Body condition score (BCS) is a method of evaluating the amount of fat under the horse’s skin in six different places.

  • It is worn around the neck and withers, and around the back. The rib cage
  • The tail head

The BCS use the Henneke scale (1 being poor and 9 being excessively overweight), with horses scoring as follows: The Purina Animal Nutrition website has more information on body condition ratings, so check it out. You may watch our video to understand how to calculate the body condition score of your horse. There are six categories to consider when determining your physical condition score.

Learn how to figure out your horse’s body condition score

This measurement assesses total fat deposits and has implications for calculating the body condition score (Girth to Height Ratio). The following formula is used to determine the girth to height ratio:

  1. Measure the girth and height of your horse at the withers, starting at the top of the neck. Take the girth measurement and divide it by the height measurement.
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When it comes to overweight horses, their girth to height ratio must be equal to or larger than 1.26, whereas when it comes to overweight ponies, the ratio must be equal to or greater than 1.33. System of rating based on the cresty neck

Cresty neck score

The cresty neck score is used to determine the amount of fat present in the horse’s neck area. The cresty neck scores vary from 0 (no apparent crest) to 5 (there is a distinct crest) (large crest that droops to one side). Ideally, you want your horse to have a cresty neck score of no more than 2. A score of 3 or above indicates that the horse has a cresty neck and is likely to be overweight and prone to metabolic problems, among other things.

Ideal body weight equations

In collaboration with the University of Minnesota, optimum body weight calculations were established to assist you in determining your horse’s optimal body weight depending on his or her total frame size. You’ll need the following measures to figure out what your horse’s optimal body weight should be:

  • Height measured from the withers to the ground
  • The length of the body measured from the point of the shoulder to a line drawn perpendicular to the point of the buttocks is the body length. It is not necessary to wrap the tape measure around the buttocks.

Calculating ideal weight for different horse breeds

From the withers to the top of the head, height; A person’s total body length is determined by measuring from the point of the shoulder to a line drawn perpendicular to the buttock point. Make sure that you don’t wrap the tape measure around your buttocks.

  • Laminitis, Equine Metabolic Syndrome, insulin malfunction, elevated levels of the stress hormone cortisol, and other conditions are common in horses.

Poor performance

When a horse acquires excessive body weight in the form of fat (adipose tissue), his or her performance and utility suffer.

  • Carrying an excessive amount of body weight has a negative influence on hoof health because it weakens the hoof wall, heel buttress, and foot bars. Obesity is a risk factor for the development of osteoarthritis and other types of joint pain. Excess body weight causes muscle tension, which might make it more difficult to perform daily tasks regularly.


Horses who are overweight or obese may have difficulty managing their body temperature. This occurs as a result of the extra fat that accumulates both immediately beneath the skin and around important organs, which serves to trap heat.

Especially in hotter weather, horses can easily get dehydrated, which is a cause for concern. Overheating can also play a significant role in reducing performance.

Reaching a healthy weight through diet and exercise

The secret to losing body weight in your horse is to limit his calorie intake while boosting his activity. Neither of these approaches is as effective as a combination of the two approaches. In spite of the fact that overweight horses are at danger for a variety of health problems, horses that lose too much weight too rapidly may also experience health difficulties. When caring for an overweight horse, it is important to ensure that the horse sheds weight gently and steadily over a period of time.

  1. To keep track of your horse’s body weight decrease, you may use the Healthy Horse App or weight tapes to assist you.
  2. However, if the app and weight tapes are used appropriately and often, they may measure changes in body weight over time.
  3. Limit the amount of food consumed by an overweight horse to 1.5 percent of their body weight every day.
  4. Hay should comprise the majority of all horses’ nutrition and calories, according to the AHCA.
  5. We propose that overweight horses receive ripe grass hay as a source of nutrition.
  6. Ensure that you constantly weigh the hay that you feed your horse to ensure that you are not overfeeding him.
  7. Reduced or eliminated grain from your horse’s diet will also result in a reduction in calorie consumption.

In certain cases, this might lead to deficits in essential vitamins and minerals that horses require in order to be healthy.

Horse feeds that are professionally produced and designed to be offered in tiny amounts while providing vitamins and trace elements without adding additional calories are known as ration balancers.

A measurement of insoluble fiber that provides structural support to plants is known as neutral detergent fiber (NDF).

It is our opinion that NDF values between 40 and 50 percent are optimal for increasing hay intakes.

Hay that is high in NDF (50 to 65 percent) is extremely beneficial for horses on a restricted diet.

When giving this type of hay to your horse, do a hay analysis or consult with an equine nutritionist to ensure that the horse is receiving all of the required nutrients.

In addition to improving horse health and welfare, increasing the amount of time horses spend foraging has been associated to decreases in the following conditions:

  • Choking incidents
  • Increases in insulin and glucose levels after a meal
  • And other undesirable behaviors such as cribbing, weaving, or pacing.

When horses are on a limited diet, it is extremely crucial to find measures to reduce their feed consumption. You may slow the pace of equine feed intake by changing the method through which feed is delivered to your horse. In accordance with University of Minnesota studies, a slow-feed hay net can assist in increasing the amount of time it takes your horse to consume a hay meal. Using different hay nets, horses spent the next times consuming the same quantity of hay as they did the previous time.

  • 6 hours with a tiny hay net (1 inch apertures)
  • 5 hours with a medium hay net (1.75 inches)
  • 3.4 hours with a big hay net (6 inches)
  • 3.2 hours without a hay net, fed directly from the ground

Equine foraging might be extended to 10 to 13 hours per day if horses are fed twice daily with a medium or small hay net, depending on their size. In addition, increasing the amount of time spent foraging will more closely replicate the normal grazing habit of horses and will aid in maintaining stable glucose and insulin levels throughout the day. This may assist in lowering the chance of having metabolic diseases in the future. Texas A&M University(PDF) conducted a study on a modified feeder and discovered that the feeder reduced grain intake while also decreasing spillage.

  1. In some instances, you may need to clean the feeder on a regular basis.
  2. Researchers discovered that, as compared to an untreated bucket of grain, use of a waffle insert significantly enhanced grain intake time by approximately 50 percent.
  3. The researchers at North Carolina State University used a bucket with four moveable bocce-style balls (4 inch diameter) in it to examine the grain feeding time of the animals.
  4. Additionally, the researchers discovered that when compared to the other feeding techniques studied, the balls caused the lowest glucose and insulin responses.
  5. They discovered that feeding hay 20 minutes before the grain meal caused horses to consume grain more slowly.
  6. Horses who ate hay and grain at the same time ate 0.4 pounds per minute on average, according to the study.


Exercise achieves a number of different tasks. It is going to happen.

  • Reduce the amount of body fat that is gained by burning the calories that are consumed on a daily basis
  • Fat is either burned or used by the body, resulting in weight reduction. muscle and bone are improved in terms of health and performance.

Horses that are overweight or unfit are more likely to be overweight or unfit. In order to avoid injuries in an overweight horse, you should gradually and gradually raise the activity level of the horse. A typical exercise program begins with a 30-minute mix of walking and slow trotting twice or three times a week, followed by a 30-minute combination of walking and slow trotting. Increase the intensity of your job to the point of noticeable sweating three to five days a week for 12 to 1 hour a day.

A seven-day mild exercise program burns nearly six times the number of calories each day as a seven-day no-activity program does.

The combination of exercise and nutrition can have a significant impact on body weight loss, which is not always possible with either activity or diet alone.

When they return to a maintenance-level diet, they may experience a similar outcome. Keep an eye out for these shifts and adapt your diet and workload accordingly. In 2021, the situation will be reviewed.

The Best and Safest Way to Help Your Horse Lose Weight

So, is it the fault of your horse to be such a “easy keeper”? A horse’s metabolic rate and genetic characteristics are unique to him, just as they are to a person. Take away the activity, and the easy keeper is at danger for hormone abnormalities as well as arthritis and laminitis. Without a doubt, an overweight horse will not perform to his full potential. Insulin resistance (also known as metabolic syndrome) is caused by an excess of fat in the body. Insulin resistance is similar to Type II diabetes in humans, and it is just as dangerous in horses—an insulin-resistant horse at a high risk for laminitis.

To stay on the safe side, assume that all overweight horses have some degree of insulin resistance and feed the easy keeper in accordance with that premise.

Consider taking a close look at your horse’s food and exercise routines.

Rules toward safe weight loss

Rule 1: It’s good to reduce calories, but depriving your horse of fodder is not the best strategy to assist him in losing weight. In reality, it has the exact opposite effect—more on that in a bit. The majority of the time, healthy horses become obese as a result of being fed concentrated feeds, even if such feeds are advertised for weight loss (which, in fact, add calories). Concentrates do not serve as a substitute for forage in any way. Use them simply as carriers for vitamins or to offer a tiny meal to keep your horse satisfied while the rest of the herd is consuming their meals.

  1. Though “grain” is widely used to designate any concentrated feed, it really refers to cereal grains like as oats, barley, wheat and other grains as well as pelleted feeds that are enriched with cereal grains.
  2. Fortunately, there are a variety of safe, low-starch meals manufactured from different substances that are readily available (alfalfa, soybean meal, flax, and beet pulp).
  3. Do not give them, or any commercial treats made from cereal grains and molasses, to your pets or any family members.
  4. An all-forage diet can be quite beneficial to your horse’s health, depending on his age, workload, and overall condition.
  5. However, you should get your hay checked for its sugar, fructan, and starch content.
  6. It is also vital to supplement with a complete vitamin and mineral supplement when hay is the primary source of nourishment, as fresh grass is cut, dried, and stored to make hay creates nutritional gaps that must be filled.
  7. Alfalfa is an excellent feed, but it contains more calories than grass, therefore restrict its use to no more than 20 percent of the overall forage ration for best results.

High-quality protein helps to maintain immunological function, protect the essential organs, keep bones, muscles, and joints strong, and promote the growth of healthy hooves, skin, and hair in horses.

Rule4 Free-choice forage should be provided.


The digestive tract of your horse is intended to have fodder going through it on a constant basis throughout the day.

Sure, your stabled horse is “inhaling” every bit of available hay right now—stockpiling he’s it for the time being until his next meal.

A week is required for the free-choice adjustment.

After that, you may measure his regular intake and use that information to generate further feed estimations.

Choose safe grazing intervals for the insulin-resistant horse in accordance with Rule 5.

NSC production increases as a result of grass being exposed to sunshine, which makes late afternoon the most dangerous time of day for the easy keeper.

A grazing muzzle may appear to be a good idea, but it might really be counterproductive since it causes stress and slows the metabolic rate.

Rule 6: Increase or increase the amount of exercise.

Furthermore, because muscle is more metabolically active than fat, having more muscle means burning more calories.

In the case of a horse with chronic laminitis who is unable to exercise, the synthetic supplement levothyroxine sodium (“Thyro-L”) may be helpful.

Rule 8: Don’t forget about important vitamins.

Minerals are still present, but vitamins are extremely fragile, necessitating the need of supplements in hay-only diets.

Supplements with a molasses basis should be avoided.

If your horse’s diet comprises more than 8 lbs of alfalfa, consider a supplement that is specifically intended for alfalfa-based diets; the calcium content of this supplement will be reduced.

Vitamin E, omega-3 fatty acids, and magnesium are three nutrients that are frequently deficient in the diet.

  • Mineral Magnesium: Magnesium helps to reduce insulin levels in the bloodstream, which allows your horse to burn fat rather than retain it. Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant. Vitamin E and selenium operate together
  • However, because selenium may be harmful at low levels, it is important to assess the selenium content of the overall diet before supplementing with either vitamin. In addition to ensuring optimal immunological function, joint health, hoof and hair quality, omega 3 fatty acids also help to manage blood insulin levels in the body. Despite the fact that flaxseed meal is heavy in fat calories, feeding it to your horse in tiny amounts can deliver remarkable health benefits.

The critical secret: Restricting your horse’s forage intake makes him fat!

  • When you restrict your horse’s fodder intake (hay and/or pasture), it slows his metabolic rate, which results in less calories being expended and weight gain. Consuming high-quality forages on a consistent basis increases the metabolism, resulting in weight reduction
  • Hunger and discomfort are exceedingly stressful. Acid continually travels through a horse’s stomach
  • When there is little feed to digest, the acid creates ulcers and perhaps colic. This type of stress causes the production of the hormone cortisol, which raises insulin levels, which leads to fat accumulation, which leads to even more insulin, and so on, creating a vicious cycle that makes the horse bigger and weaker. The destructive liver condition hyperlipemia may also be caused by elevated insulin levels
  • Pony, miniature horse, donkey, and mules are the animals most susceptible to this ailment, but no horse is immune to it.

When you restrict your horse’s fodder intake (hay and/or pasture), it slows his metabolic rate, which results in less calories being burned and weight gain. Consuming high-quality forages on a consistent basis boosts the metabolism, resulting in weight reduction. Hunger and discomfort are exceedingly stressful. Acid continually runs through a horse’s stomach, causing ulcers and maybe colic if there is no fodder to digest. Such stress causes the production of the hormone cortisol, which raises insulin levels, which leads to fat storage, which leads to even more insulin, and so on, creating a vicious cycle that causes the horse to gain weight.

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See also:  What Is The Price Of A Horse? (Solution found)

Easy Keepers: How To Help Your Horse Lose Weight

You may reach Dr. Getty personally at [email protected] if you would like permission to reproduce this article in its whole or in part, or to schedule a private consultation.

Why do horses become overweight?

The same way that some horses are prone to being difficult keepers, others are prone to being easy keepers, which means that they have a propensity to be more overweight. On top of that, obesity is growing more frequent among all domestic animals, and horses are no exception. It is true that a more energy-dense diet mixed with a less active lifestyle both contribute to this epidemic, but the good news is that it can be easily avoided and even reversed with some careful planning and implementation.

Why does my horse need to lose weight?

Increased weight is always undesirable since the greater the amount of weight carried around by a horse, the more strain imposed on his body and muscles, as well as the increased stress placed on his heart and lungs will be experienced by the horse. Your horse will be carrying far more weight than his hooves and leg joints were meant to support, increasing the likelihood that he or she may get afflicted with an illness such as laminitis. The fact that your horse is overweight will also make it more difficult for his or her body to deal with insulin, increasing the likelihood that your horse may suffer from insulin resistance disorders such as Equine Metabolic Syndrome.

How to help your horse lose weight

Increased weight is always undesirable since the greater the amount of weight carried around by a horse, the more strain imposed on his body and muscles, as well as the increased stress placed on his heart and lungs will be experienced by him. You will be asking your horse to bear more weight than his hooves and limb joints were meant to support, which can put him at higher risk of contracting diseases such as laminitis.

The fact that your horse is overweight will also make it more difficult for his or her body to deal with insulin, increasing the likelihood that your horse may develop insulin resistance disorders such as Equine Metabolic Syndrome.

Reduce your horse’s daily hay intake

Increased weight is always undesirable since the greater the amount of weight carried around by a horse, the more tension placed on his body and muscles, as well as the increased stress placed on his heart and lungs. Your horse will be carrying far more weight than his hooves and limb joints were meant to support, increasing the likelihood that he may get plagued with illnesses such as laminitis. The fact that your horse is overweight will also make it more difficult for his body to deal with insulin, increasing the likelihood that he or she could develop insulin resistance disorders such as Equine Metabolic Syndrome.

Feed your horse the right sort of hay

You might believe that all hay is equal and that any hay you give your horse is OK, but while there is a lot of truth in this, some hays are better for your horse than others. Hay that has been collected later will have a lower leaf to stem ratio, which indicates that its nutritional content will be reduced, making it a better choice for horses who are wanting to shed some pounds. You should try to avoid giving alfalfa, beans, and grain hays to overweight horses because they all have a high calorie content and will make them gain weight.

You want to limit the amount of carbs that your horse consumes, therefore if your hay has a lot of WSC, soak it before feeding it to your horse to achieve this goal.

Limit your horse’s access to pasture

It’s tempting to believe that all hay is equal and that any hay you give your horse will be fine, but although there is some truth to this, certain hays are better than others. Hay that has been collected later will have a lower leaf to stem ratio, which indicates that its nutritional content will be reduced, making it a better choice for horses who are seeking to shed pounds. Feeding alfalfa, lentils, and grain hays to overweight horses is discouraged since they contain much more calories than other forages.

You want to limit the amount of carbs that your horse consumes, therefore if your hay has a lot of WSC, soak it before feeding it to your horse to help achieve this objective.

  • Time on the pasture should be reduced– Horses may consume upwards of 5% of their whole body weight in grass each day, thus restricting the amount of time they are allowed to graze would greatly assist in weight loss. For optimal grazing results, your horse should be out grazing for no more than 4 hours each day, however this does not have to be done all at once. Strip grazing entails fencing off a small strip of pasture that will be moved daily (or less frequently during the winter months) to ensure that your horse only has access to a limited area of fresh grazing at any given time. This method is most commonly used in the summer. This works because it restricts the amount of grazing a horse can do, but it also ensures that the grass is always of high nutritional value. Turn out at night– During the day, when the sun is shining, grass will produce sugar
  • However, during the night, when the sun is not shining, grass will use the sugar to grow, resulting in lower sugar and WSC levels as the night progresses, until the morning, when there is virtually none left in the grass. This will vary depending on the season, but there will always be much less sugar available during the nighttime hours. If you let your horse out in colder weather without a rug (or with a thinner rug if the weather is really cold), it will encourage them to walk around more in order to stay warm. This will result in them burning more calories, allowing them to consume more grass without experiencing any negative consequences. Grazing muzzle– Horses are herd animals and can become upset if they are isolated from their herd. If this is the situation with your horse, a grazing muzzle may be the best solution. They are particularly effective since they can restrict the amount of grass that your horse can consume by up to 80%. Several firms sell these, but I love this particular one (which is available on Amazon) since it is soft, flexible, and fleece-lined.

Don’t feed your horse high calorie concentrates

If your horse is overweight, he does not require any additional calories, and you should thus wean him off of them. If you want to keep his nutritional worth the same, you should offer him food with less calories.

The same may be said for high-fat dietary supplements. You should offer your horse either pelleted vitamin and mineral supplements or balancers, since both of these will provide him with everything he needs to keep healthy without causing him to gain weight from the calories and fat in the feed.

Weigh everything your horse eats

All of us get into the habit of weighing our horse’s feed based on the number of scoops that we use, but this will never provide you with an accurate picture of how much you’re feeding your horse. Get into the habit of weighing EVERYTHING you feed your horse, rather than just some of it. Even a simple set of kitchen scales and a large bowl (such as this one I purchased on Amazon) would suffice, but it will allow you to know precisely how much food you’re preparing and serving.

Don’t starve your horse

Initially, you would believe that if you substantially cut the quantity of food your horse takes, he will lose weight, but in reality, feeding your horse too little will have the opposite effect since his body will hold on to the fat it has stored rather of burning it. Furthermore, not providing adequate nutrition to your horse may result in additional concerns such as ulcers, colic, and other digestive disorders. To avoid this, it is preferable to feed your horse a small amount every few hours rather than all at once.

Increase your horse’s exercise

Initially, you would believe that if you substantially cut the quantity of food your horse takes, he will lose weight, but in reality, feeding your horse too little will have the opposite effect since his body will hang on to the fat it already has instead of burning it. Furthermore, not providing adequate nutrition to your horse may result in additional concerns such as ulcers, colic, and other digestive issues. It is preferable to feed your horse a small amount every few hours rather than doing this.

Change your horse’s bedding

Even while it may seem absurd to say that your horse’s bedding is having an impact on his weight, if you’re limiting the amount of food he’s eating, it’s possible that this is the case. Some horses would eat their straw bedding regardless of the situation, but a recent research found that horses on a calorie-controlled diet began to consume their wood shavings as well. It’s not obvious whether they were acting in this manner because they were still hungry or because they were bored as a result of not eating as frequently, but in any case, it’s not going to help your horse shed weight and it’s not going to be beneficial to his digestive system.

These days, there is a plethora of alternatives to straw and wood shavings, but if you’re not sure which one to choose, this article will provide some suggestions.

Make your horse’s water fun

It’s always vital to make sure your horse has enough of fresh water available, but you may encourage him to spend more time with his water (and consequently less time eating) by adding a few apples to the water. This will encourage him to drink more water and so spend less time eating. I get that you’re trying to keep your horse from overindulging in apples, but the amount of work he expends in attempting to obtain the apples is larger than the amount of energy he will derive from the fruit itself.

Further reading

  • Calculating the weight of your horse
  • Feeding a horse when there is no grass available
  • Providing a stable for a horse
  • Horses’ goodies that are good for them
  • Is my horse in good health? Medications for ulcers
  • What is the best place for me to keep my horse? Taking care of elderly horses
  • Do horses require nutritional supplements? Keeping boredom at bay

Recommended products

determining the weight of your horse Horses are fed when there is no grass available. Building an animal’s quarters; Maintaining an animal’s house. Horses can benefit from healthy treats. How healthy is my horse? Irritation of the stomach; ulcer treatment What do you recommend I do with my horse? Older horses require special attention. Whether or whether horses require supplements is up for discussion. A way to keep boredom at bay

  • Mane & Tail Detangler– Even if you never show your horse, you’ll need to disentangle his tail (and maybe his mane as well) from time to time, which is always a difficult task! When I put a small amount of detangler through my horse’s tails every few days, I’ve discovered that it prevents them from becoming matted and makes combing them easier, even when they’re coated in muck. I’m not sure if I should mention it or not, but it also works wonderfully on my hair
  • I’m not sure how I feel about it. TAKEKIT Pro clippers are a good investment. Over the years, I’ve experimented with a variety of various clippers, and while some were clearly superior than others, I found them to be by far the most effective. However, for me, this is a positive attribute because it gives them the appearance of being more strong and long-lasting than many other clippers. Furthermore, because they have a variety of speeds, they are equally effective at cutting your horse’s back as they are at clipping his face. I also appreciate the fact that they come with a convenient travel bag, but I understand that this is not for everyone. They are made by a fantastic firm that is also wonderfully helpful, which is a big plus in these difficult economic times. The only thing I didn’t like about it was that it didn’t come with any oil, but it wasn’t a big deal because it’s not difficult to get lubricant elsewhere. Shire’s ball feeder– There are a plethora of boredom-busting toys available, but I prefer to use this one on a daily basis, regardless of whether or not my horses are feeling bored. Horse safe mirror– This is a strange one that many people are surprised about, but I like to put horse safe mirrors in the trailers as well as in the quarantine stalls to encourage my horses to problem solve. I reward them with treats (or pieces of fruit) when they do so, and it also mimics their natural grazing behavior, which helps to keep them calm and de-stressed. It helps to alleviate the sense of being alone by creating the illusion that other horses are around to provide company. Equine herd animals can get quite anxious when they are left alone, but with the use of these stick-on mirrors they will assume that at least one other horse is present with them, reducing their discomfort. This isn’t glamorous, but it’s critical for your horse’s health to be able to check its temperature on a regular basis, and a rectal thermometer is the most convenient method to do so, which is why I’ve included it on the list: Rectal thermometer

Shopping lists

Mane & Tail Detangler– Even if you never show your horse, you’ll need to disentangle his tail (and maybe his mane as well) from time to time, which is usually a difficult task. The use of detangler in my horse’s tails every few days has shown to prevent them from becoming matted and to make combing their tails easier, even when they are coated in muck. I recommend it to everyone. In addition to my skin, it is also beneficial to my hair; I’m not sure if I should disclose this or not, but it does wonders for my hair.

While some were clearly better than others, these were by far the best.

They also offer a variety of speeds, making them equally effective in clipping your horse’s back as they are at clipping his face.

They are made by a fantastic firm that is also really helpful, which is a wonderful plus in these difficult economic times!

It’s easy to find boredom busting toys for horses, but I like to utilize Shire’s ball feeder on a daily basis, regardless of whether or not my horses are bored.

Having the sense that other horses are around helps to alleviate the feeling of being alone in the stable.

This isn’t glamorous, but it’s critical for your horse’s health to be able to check its temperature on a regular basis, and a rectal thermometer is the most convenient method to do so, which is why I’ve included it on the list; Rectal thermometer I hope you found this post to be informative.

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