Ideal horse body weight
10 August 2017
Horses are very similar to humans when it comes to weight, in the sense that maintaining a healthy weight is the key to obtaining overall wellbeing. In a horse however, the difference between a healthy weight and non-healthy weight can change without you even noticing as it can be hard to weigh them.
Being underweight or overweight can carry serious consequences as it comes with a whole range of health risks and issues. These problems can relate to the horses hooves and can even go internally causing heart problems and other internal issues.
If you notice your horse is looking a bit plumper or is sluggish in the morning, you need to have a look at how much you are feeding him. Overweight horses need to be seen by a vet immediately to determine if the issue is only with their lack of exercise and heavy eating. If you can determine that your feeding routine is causing their size, you need to reduce their feed gradually – cutting their food down swiftly can cause behavioural issues.
Carefully monitor their weight over this transition period to de3termine if it is working effectively and not starving your horse. Once they have hit their goal weight, you can stick with the feeding program in order to sustain this weight instead of making them underweight.
How to weigh your horse
Weighing your horse isn’t as simple as stepping on the scales. If you’re lucky enough to have a large scale or your vet has one, this can be achieved quite easily. However, for the rest of us there are a few ways you can determine the weight of your horse.
Equine weight tapes are available to purchase which helps measure their weight, or ultimately you can use a standard measuring tape – although a weight tape is much easier. In saying this though, the horses weight isn’t as important as their body score, which is the standard measure used by vets.
Measuring a horse’s body score is all about feeling your horse for weight gain or loss and knowing them back to front. Below are the certain areas that you need to look at to determine where your horse’s weight sits:
Loin – the spine should not be visible or be able to be felt. Nor should it have an excess amount of fat around it
Ribs – you should be able to feel but not see a healthy horses ribs
Tailhead – this should not be prominent
Withers – should be rounded and smooth, however it will determine on the type of horse you have. If your horse is too thin, the shape of the withers will be noticeable
Neck – you shouldn’t be able to see the bone structure of the neck
Shoulder – as horses lose weight you’ll see more and more definition between the shoulder and the elbow. It should be rounded and smooth
It is important to remember that a horse’s body weight will fluctuate with the seasons, so make sure you get to know their fluctuations. If you believe your horse is not the correct weight, it is important to seek advice from your vet immediately. They will be able to tell you what needs to be done in order for them to get back to the ideal weight.
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