Did Your Horse Gain Weight Over the Winter?

Excessive weight gain can lead to health issues such as insulin resistance and laminitis. 

While performing spring wellness exams, we see quite a few horses that inadvertently got too “fluffy” over the winter. “Fluffy” in this context refers not to the winter hair coat but to their body condition score increasing beyond a healthy weight.  

It’s common in our experience for horse owners to be too generous with rations during the winter, because they feel they must provide more forage to keep their horses warm. While it’s true that forage helps keep horses warm, letting them become overconditioned can put them at risk of developing health issues such as equine metabolic syndrome, insulin resistance, and laminitis. Plus, most horses don’t truly need many extra calories except when it’s bitterly cold. 

This beautiful mare is a good example of a horse with abnormal fat deposition in the crest of the neck. She has been on a weight-loss program and is responding well.  

So, as you spend time with your horses, assess their body condition carefully, looking for abnormal fat deposition, particularly over the ribs, behind the shoulder, and at the withers, loin, tailhead, and neck. If you’re concerned about your horse’s weight, give us a call.