The Biggest Mistakes Made by Horse Owners – Part 2 – (MY HORSE IS TOO FAT)
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The Biggest Mistakes Made by Horse Owners – Part 2 – (MY HORSE IS TOO FAT)

October 23, 2019


Hi there, Jane here from Equiculture. We (Stuart and I) have worked with horses
and their owners in many counties, all around the world, I (Jane) carried out research about
The Grazing Behaviour of horses and we are authors of several books on the subject of
SUSTAINABLE HORSEKEEPING. Sustainable Horsekeeping is all about how
to keep your horses in a way that keeps them healthy and happy, saves you time and money,
and is good for the environment, ALL AT THE SAME TIME! A win-win-win when you get it right! The second part of our series on common mistakes
made by horse owners focuses on what is rapidly becoming an epidemic with modern horses. Weight management, but we want to look specifically
at the issue of owners not taking into account the natural weight cycles of horses, particularly
with heavier types and breeds prone to putting on weight. This is really important because this weight
gain and loss cycle is what has enabled horses to survive for millions of years in the wild. Horses and many other mammals have evolved
to gain weight in the good times, Spring and Summer. This creates a layer of stored energy in the
form of fat which they can burn off in the hard times, such as winter or during drought,
both to keep warm if necessary and to use for energy. It is part of a natural cycle that helps them
survive in harsh environments. However, it becomes a major problem when we
do not allow them to follow this natural cycle. The stored energy (body fat) keeps them warm
in winter and using it up helps them to ‘reset’ their internal biochemistry. So without getting too technical, this evolutionary
strategy actually helps them survive in the wild but can become a major issue in domestic
situations. Any horse that gains weight over spring/summer,
MUST lose it again over winter. Ideally, they should be coming into spring
slightly underweight to give them the best chance to cope with the spring grasses, which
are much higher in sugar. If they don’t use this stored energy over
winter, they are in danger of becoming obese and possibly developing conditions such as
laminitis. Just because you feel the cold, doesn’t
mean your horse is cold, their bodies have adapted to deal with varied conditions. Don’t just rug them or give them extra feed
if they don’t really need it. Horses, particularly heavier/native breeds
are perfectly comfortable in sub-zero temperatures. It is when temperatures start to drop that
a horse starts to tap into their energy reserves and begins to burn off the fat they have collected
and stored earlier in the year. This is a natural process, and this is what
their bodies have evolved to do. If you have a horse that is already in ‘good
to fat’ condition and you then give them extra feed or increase their rugs just because
the weather has changed then you are fighting a natural system. Keep in mind that some old/sick horses and
certain breeds may not be able to cope with losing weight over winter. The general rule of thumb should be if they
gain weight easily over spring/summer, they must lose some over winter. Remember however that horses still need access
to fibre all year round. Good quality but low energy fibre, fed over
winter, is not only good for their health, but it also keeps them warm (because digesting
fibre actually gives off heat) and can help with weight loss (because it is low in calories). So, keep up the fibre, but reduce the high
energy supplementary feeds if your horse does not need them. We have a free mini-course that you can sign
up for, there is a link below… This mini-course will teach you all about
horse grazing characteristics and will help to manage your horse/s weight. If you have enjoyed this video please let
us know by liking it. Subscribe and share with your fellow horsey
friends and please leave a comment with what you found interesting. If you are interested in learning more about
better horse management by learning about what is really important to your horse we
also have a private Facebook group but do the course first and see if this interests
you.

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  1. We hope you enjoy this video about horses and the subject of managing their weight – this subject always gets LOTS of interest when we talk about it in our Facebook group and on our Facebook pages (links above). Please leave a comment with what you found interesting and make sure you SUBSCRIBE to our channel (and hit the bell for notifications) so that you do not miss out on innovative and free information from EQUICULTURE!

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