Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Favorite Video: Horse Owners Beware of Seasonal Weight Gain Over Winter Months

by Fran Jurga | 2 December 2008 | www.hoofcare.blogspot.com

Most horses and ponies are not as overtly obese as this pony. The videos posted for you today explain the subtleties of weight gain in horses and their not-so-subtle effects on a horse's health. Chris Pollitt photo. (thanks!)

The red line on the thermometer is dropping. The blankets are out. The feed bucket gets an extra half a scoop. Soon it will be an extra whole scoop. Or two. In the deluxe barns, the heat comes on. "Can you bring the horses in early tonight? It's awfully cold...and make sure Bilbo has both his blankets on, ok?"

As countless horse owners continue to struggle with low-grade chronic laminitis and its more serious counterparts, we still seem to have as many overweight horses standing guard in winter paddocks as we did last winter. In spite of all the diet grain mixes, horse owners still love to feed their horses, just as they love to dress them in blankets. It's a visible sign that the owner cares, and is providing the best possible conditions for the horse. (Isn't it?) When the weather gets cold, adding more grain to the feed tub seems like a sensible, caring thing to do. (Isn't it?)

And when laminitis strikes, horse owners run through a gamut of emotions, from grief to guilt to an outpouring of excessive care and nursing. When, in most cases, it could have been avoided.

In this post you will find a three-part video from World Horse Welfare (formerly the International League for the Protection of Horses), a British-based charity that puts laminitis very high on its list of educational priorities.

World Horse Welfare horse care team leader Samantha Lewis shares good practical information with a horse owner in this video. She talks about the risks of laminitis, winter grazing, blanketing, weight taping, and a lot of other key concepts for horse owners.

She had my attention from the very first sentence: 80 percent of horses in Great Britain are overweight. How can that be? When she examines horses of different sizes and conformations, I start to understand that weight is a very deceptive variable in horses. And I may have been guilty of misjudging some horses in the past, according to Samanta's system.

I hope the regular readers of this blog will refer horse owners to this post to learn about the relationship of weight to laminitis and other health problems. If you're a vet or farrier, please recommend these video clips to your clients.

NOTE: In the shaded portion at the end of this blog article, you will see a small icon that looks like an envelope. If you click on it, you can forward this article (or any article in the entire archive of the Hoof Blog) to anyone you'd like to have this information. I think that the email icon shows up in some browsers and not others; sorry for this inconsistency.

This video set might make a great Christmas present instead of a bag of horse cookies.

Thanks to WHW for making these clips available. There's lots more information about obesity in horses on their website. For information about laminitis, please visit Dr. Chris Pollitt's laminitis research web site.

Here's Part 1:


 Here's Part 2:
 Here's Part 3: 
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