To help horse owners establish what the right weight for their horses is, the International League for the Protection of Horses (ILPH) has started a new program called "Right Weight Road Shows" in Great Britain. On these days the general public will be invited to bring their horses to be weighed on a mobile weighbridge.
One of the problems with obesity, the ILPH contends, is that horse owners miscalculate the amount of work their horses actually perform. They may purchase a grain product too high in calories, or feed too much, and some horses need no grain at all for their sedentary lifestyles.
"It costs significantly more, takes longer and is far more difficult to rehabilitate an obese horse than an emaciated one," writes the ILPH on their new "obesity" web page.
"An emaciated horse that comes into ILPH care, providing it has no underlying conditions, can be back to the correct weight within three months," they write. "Conversely, a horse which is obese simply through overfeeding rather than because of some underlying cause, will take in the region of nine months to get to the correct weight. They are likely to suffer some long-term damage such as joint problems and, at the very least, their weight will always need monitoring. This is because once fat cells have been formed they will stay in the body forever, so a horse which has been overweight will become fat again far more easily.
"Many of the overweight horses and ponies we deal with will also suffer from laminitis, the treatment of which is prolonged and very expensive," says the ILPH.
In other ILPH news, the group is celebrating a court ruling on April 5th that levied a lifetime ban from keeping horses on an owner who neglected a pony's hooves.