ads

Slider[Style1]

Style2

Style3[OneLeft]

Style3[OneRight]

Style4

Style5


By Kate Hinton

Just as with humans, horses should strive to maintain an ideal weight. As is also the case with humans, it is often necessary to put your horse on a diet to drop a few unwanted pounds. The principles behind equine weight loss are the same as with human weight loss: do so healthily, slowly, steadily, and without starving.

Horses face many of the same issues we face when we are overweight. Carrying even a few extra pounds can put the horse's total health in danger, and he or she can easily become more susceptible to breathing problems, hormone imbalances, injuries, and laminitis.

Starting The Diet

The first step to starting your horse on a diet is to determine the ideal weight for your animal. This number not only gives you a goal to strive for, it will also help you to figure how much food the horse should be fed on a daily basis.

Some simple guidelines for slow and steady weight loss are as follows: If the horse is still active and getting daily exercise, you should be feeding a minimum of one and a half percent of his or her current body weight, and as much as two percent of his or her ideal body weight in hay. If the horse is not getting regular exercise, or if he or she is confined to a stall or paddock area, you should feed anywhere from one to one and a half percent of his or her ideal body weight in hay.

Make sure you do not send your horse on a crash diet. If your horse is already on a reduced hay diet and not getting any grain, yet he or she is not losing any weight it can be tempting to reduce the food even further. You need to keep from doing this, as you could be affecting the animal's metabolic rate, thus causing the horse to become resistant to the effects of insulin and become dependent upon fat stores in their bodies to feed their cells. When this happens (referred to as fat mobilization) the results can be so severe that organ damage can occur and the blood can become milky.

When you find yourself in the situation of a reduced calorie diet with little weight loss, it is important to check for underlying problems. We have all been around overweight people who claim they cannot lose weight due to a "glandular problem". While most of us think "yeah right" when we hear this statement, the truth is it really could be the reason and the same could be true for your horse!

To determine if this is the case, take a bit of time and assess your horse for the following symptoms:

• Weight gain that began right after the horse reached maturity;

• Weight gain even on a diet that would not be sufficient to hold weight on a horse of a similar size;

• A fatty or hard crest on the neck that is present even if weight is lost elsewhere on the body;

• Other abnormal patches of fat in random patterns, sometimes appearing dimpled or resembling cellulite.

Other conditions such as insulin resistance and leptin resistance can be underlying causes of weight gain as well. If you suspect your horse may have any of these problems you should seek the advice of a veterinarian before starting any type of restricted diet.

What To Feed A Fat Horse

Hay should be your number feed for a horse that is overweight. That being said, it is extremely important that you choose the proper type of hay. Hay can vary a great deal in calories and sugar content. Bright green, tender cuts of hay, such as early alfalfa can really pack on the pounds. Coarser, or "stemmier", cuts generally contain fewer calories and lower amounts of sugar. The best types of hay for weight loss include: meadow hays, prairie hays, timothy, orchard grass, and mature or late cuttings of Bermuda grass.

When trying to accomplish weight loss, grain should be omitted from your horse's diet all together. You may be thinking that all of your horse's nutrition comes from grain; however, this is simply not true. Grain can contain high amounts of fat and calories and really serves no purpose in an overweight horse's daily diet. If you find your animal is in fact suffering from a metabolic problem, it is even more critical that you avoid feeding grain.

If you simply cannot stand the thought of only feeding your horse hay, or if he or she becomes unruly because others are getting grain, try feeding a healthier alternative. Beet pulp is low in calories, about the same amount as oats per pound; however since it needs to be soaked prior to feeding it can soak up about four times its dry measure. This means you can feed a good sized portion, while only providing a small amount of calories.

A great daily diet for a full sized horse is as follows: one pound (dry weight) of beet pulp divided into two feedings, mixed with two ounces of ground stabilized flax, and two ounces of rice bran. This makes for a diet that is well balanced, provides all the necessary nutrients, and provides enough fat (in the form of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids) to keep your horse happy. Adding the hay with a suitable mineral supplement is all you need to maintain optimal health.

Other Weight Loss Tips

Of course, just as it hold true with people, exercise plays a major role in a horse's weight loss progress. A regular exercise plan not only helps the horse to burn calories, it also helps to balance hormone levels and increase metabolic function. This causes his or her muscle cells to become more sensitive to natural insulin, and better utilize the glucose needed for proper muscle function.

Limiting natural grazing and not allowing the horse to eat straw can further help with weight loss. Nature intended for a horse to graze in pasture, however nature did not intend for the horse to have an unlimited supply of fresh grass without having to travel miles a day to eat it. Try to limit the amount of grazing time each day by using a grazing muzzle or removing the horse from the pasture all together. While straw bedding may look unappealing to you, a horse loves it, and often munches on it without hesitation. Straw can have just as much sugar, and as many calories as grass hay and can really wreck a diet. Try switching to wood shavings or another type of bedding that will not encourage snacking.

Finally, refrain from feeding your horse treats. This may seem mean, or you may find it difficult to look into those big brown eyes and not give a snack, but in the long run your horse will be healthier from your will power. If you find you absolutely must feed a treat, opt for a very small amount of a low calorie food such as carrots, apples, or a handful of grapes.

Just as with humans, horses should strive to maintain an ideal weight. As is also the case with humans, it is often necessary to put your horse on a diet to drop a few unwanted pounds. The principles behind equine weight loss are the same as with human weight loss: do so healthily, slowly, steadily, and without starving.

Horses face many of the same issues we face when we are overweight. Carrying even a few extra pounds can put the horse's total health in danger, and he or she can easily become more susceptible to breathing problems, hormone imbalances, injuries, and laminitis.

Starting The Diet

The first step to starting your horse on a diet is to determine the ideal weight for your animal. This number not only gives you a goal to strive for, it will also help you to figure how much food the horse should be fed on a daily basis.

Some simple guidelines for slow and steady weight loss are as follows: If the horse is still active and getting daily exercise, you should be feeding a minimum of one and a half percent of his or her current body weight, and as much as two percent of his or her ideal body weight in hay. If the horse is not getting regular exercise, or if he or she is confined to a stall or paddock area, you should feed anywhere from one to one and a half percent of his or her ideal body weight in hay.

Make sure you do not send your horse on a crash diet. If your horse is already on a reduced hay diet and not getting any grain, yet he or she is not losing any weight it can be tempting to reduce the food even further. You need to keep from doing this, as you could be affecting the animal's metabolic rate, thus causing the horse to become resistant to the effects of insulin and become dependent upon fat stores in their bodies to feed their cells. When this happens (referred to as fat mobilization) the results can be so severe that organ damage can occur and the blood can become milky.

When you find yourself in the situation of a reduced calorie diet with little weight loss, it is important to check for underlying problems. We have all been around overweight people who claim they cannot lose weight due to a "glandular problem". While most of us think "yeah right" when we hear this statement, the truth is it really could be the reason and the same could be true for your horse!

To determine if this is the case, take a bit of time and assess your horse for the following symptoms:

• Weight gain that began right after the horse reached maturity;

• Weight gain even on a diet that would not be sufficient to hold weight on a horse of a similar size;

• A fatty or hard crest on the neck that is present even if weight is lost elsewhere on the body;

• Other abnormal patches of fat in random patterns, sometimes appearing dimpled or resembling cellulite.

Other conditions such as insulin resistance and leptin resistance can be underlying causes of weight gain as well. If you suspect your horse may have any of these problems you should seek the advice of a veterinarian before starting any type of restricted diet.

What To Feed A Fat Horse

Hay should be your number feed for a horse that is overweight. That being said, it is extremely important that you choose the proper type of hay. Hay can vary a great deal in calories and sugar content. Bright green, tender cuts of hay, such as early alfalfa can really pack on the pounds. Coarser, or "stemmier", cuts generally contain fewer calories and lower amounts of sugar. The best types of hay for weight loss include: meadow hays, prairie hays, timothy, orchard grass, and mature or late cuttings of Bermuda grass.

When trying to accomplish weight loss, grain should be omitted from your horse's diet all together. You may be thinking that all of your horse's nutrition comes from grain; however, this is simply not true. Grain can contain high amounts of fat and calories and really serves no purpose in an overweight horse's daily diet. If you find your animal is in fact suffering from a metabolic problem, it is even more critical that you avoid feeding grain.

If you simply cannot stand the thought of only feeding your horse hay, or if he or she becomes unruly because others are getting grain, try feeding a healthier alternative. Beet pulp is low in calories, about the same amount as oats per pound; however since it needs to be soaked prior to feeding it can soak up about four times its dry measure. This means you can feed a good sized portion, while only providing a small amount of calories.

A great daily diet for a full sized horse is as follows: one pound (dry weight) of beet pulp divided into two feedings, mixed with two ounces of ground stabilized flax, and two ounces of rice bran. This makes for a diet that is well balanced, provides all the necessary nutrients, and provides enough fat (in the form of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids) to keep your horse happy. Adding the hay with a suitable mineral supplement is all you need to maintain optimal health.

Other Weight Loss Tips

Of course, just as it hold true with people, exercise plays a major role in a horse's weight loss progress. A regular exercise plan not only helps the horse to burn calories, it also helps to balance hormone levels and increase metabolic function. This causes his or her muscle cells to become more sensitive to natural insulin, and better utilize the glucose needed for proper muscle function.

Limiting natural grazing and not allowing the horse to eat straw can further help with weight loss. Nature intended for a horse to graze in pasture, however nature did not intend for the horse to have an unlimited supply of fresh grass without having to travel miles a day to eat it. Try to limit the amount of grazing time each day by using a grazing muzzle or removing the horse from the pasture all together. While straw bedding may look unappealing to you, a horse loves it, and often munches on it without hesitation. Straw can have just as much sugar, and as many calories as grass hay and can really wreck a diet. Try switching to wood shavings or another type of bedding that will not encourage snacking.

Finally, refrain from feeding your horse treats. This may seem mean, or you may find it difficult to look into those big brown eyes and not give a snack, but in the long run your horse will be healthier from your will power. If you find you absolutely must feed a treat, opt for a very small amount of a low calorie food such as carrots, apples, or a handful of grapes.

Kate Hinton is CEO of ThatHorse.com which is a one stop shop for everything equine.

She is also the author of 'The Essential Guide to Selling Your Horse' which is a must have if you are looking to sell a horse.

«
Next
Newer Post
»
Previous
Older Post

1 comments:

  1. Rarely this kind of useful blogs can be find. Greean Coffee bean Extract is a well known natural medicine for reducing fat or cholesterol, minimizing hypertension levels, helps in muscle mass meaning etc. I would like to recommend your blog to different people also so that even they could be benefited from your useful information.

    ReplyDelete


Top