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Monday, February 05, 2007

Advice to Horse Owners: Be Objective about Obese Horses

(report provided by ILPH)

At the recent Scottish Equine Welfare Seminar of the International League for the Protection of Horses (ILPH) at the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies in Edinburgh, Robert Eustace FRCVS of The Laminitis Trust rattled the cage of equine obesity in the show ring and in the home paddock.

"Obesity – a major cause of welfare problems" was the title of his presentation.

Robert was able to graphically show the difference in what horse owners nowadays think is acceptable weight compared to forty years ago and even twenty years ago, by using winner photos from old and recent horse shows. The attendees were captivated by this visual proof of the changing form of horses shown in-hand (what we call "halter" horses in the USA).

Robert expanded on the damage that is occurring to these obese animals and their progeny, if indeed they were able to reproduce.

He concluded with some very basic sound advice to all horse owners: Every time your horse is shod, use your weight tape and mark on the stable wall the weight it shows. This will prove that the horse owner is keeping an accurate record of the weight at a regular interval so any weight gain or loss is easily detected.


Mike Miller said...

I was at a conference in Caracas, Venezuela in 2000 hosted by Ricardo Rodriguez, DVM. I spoke with vetereinary surgeon from Uruguay who remarked that horses owned by poor people in his country hardly ever got laminitis, because they couldn't afford to overfeed them!
When I started shoeing in 1970, laminitis was relatively uncommon, and most horses that I saw were maintained on hay and some supplemental grain or peletted feed. Our horses are just like the rest of the human population now -- overfed and under-exercised. Pick up any equine magazine and you'll see what I mean. The advertising for feeds and supplements is really heavy. I just don't recall a lot of undernourished or starving horses 35 years ago. Except for the polo horses I shoe, most of my customers have horses that are fat. The worst are the quarter horse halter classes. What are these judges thinking?

Mike Miller

Rising Rainbow said...

The Arabians are just as bad for halter and their western horses. I don't know if the reasoning behind the western horses is they want them to look stouter like the QHs or what but the top barns show them overweight.