Owners of equestrian ranches have a range of factors to monitor when it comes to their horses’ health—and one of the most important is a horse’s weight. Many horses are what are called “easy keepers,” meaning they take in more calories than they burn, which can often times lead to obesity. While humans can easily visit weight loss clinics, it’s a lot more work to have a vet manage horses’ weight. Read on for some tips that will help you do it yourself.
1. Keep a log. Just as doctors at weight loss clinics recommend with humans who are trying to lose weight, keeping a journal will help you manage your horse’s weight. Log everything from your horse’s water and food intake to body condition and circumference. This will help you keep track of your horse’s condition and is easier than trying to judge it with the naked eye.
2. Switch to hay. Eliminate grains and select hay with less stems for your horse. Even though grain-based feed boasts an array of nutrients, it is also heavy on the calorie content. You can add a multi-vitamin or mineral supplement to your horse’s diet or a ration balancer.
3. Improve forage. The goal here is to give your horse satisfying chew time without increasing its caloric intake too much. Obtain hay that isn’t full of dust, mold and weeds for your easy keepers. You can have the quality of your hay evaluated at a forage testing lab. While many owners of equestrian ranches think it would seem to be common sense to limit the amount of hay the horses consume, it’s actually not good to limit forage intake from what a horse is used to, as it can lead to ulcers and affect the horse’s metabolism. Instead, maintain current forage consumption and try to increase your easy keeper’s exercise.