Learn how nutritionists took 3 fat horses to gorgeous horses
Suggest that the horse is at risk of colic, and people jump into action. Tell a person that his horse is overweight, and the reaction can be different. Some horse owners may deny the extra body condition of their horses, others even taking it as an insult. However, equine obesity is a growing problem. Excess weight makes it difficult for performance horses to jump, run, or turn. Obesity can also increase a horse’s risk of developing health problems such as laminitis, equine metabolic syndrome, and heat or exercise intolerance.
“Overweight horses require a little extra attention, but obesity is treatable and treatable like any other health problem,” says Laurie Warren, PhD, PAS, assistant professor of equine nutrition at the University of Florida, in Gainesville. “If someone tells you your horse is overweight and losing a little can alleviate the problem, you should take that seriously and not personally.”
The effect of weight on the body of horses
Many researchers have examined the relationship between obesity and arthritis in horses and other species. The jury is still out on whether obesity alone can cause arthritis, says Jenny Ivey, PhD, PAS, assistant professor and equine breeder at the University of Tennessee, in Knoxville. However, excess weight increases systemic inflammation.
“The effect on the joint itself is still being reviewed, but studies have shown that horses are in a higher inflammatory state when they are obese,” she says.
Warren added that overweight horses already put extra pressure on their joints, which can exacerbate arthritis. Inflammation is part of exercise, and its purpose is to break down tissue and rebuild it back stronger, but the excess breakdown outweighs the rate of repair.
“Cumulative inflammation may initiate arthritis early in life,” says Ivey. “This could mean that the horse needs more time or that he is getting injured after a slip because he gets tired sooner.”
In 2021, researchers from North Carolina State University found that, despite the health risks of obesity, horses with overexertion health conditions tend to get a reward in a show pen. In a survey, investigators asked hunter judges how they would classify horses based on condition. Most of them agreed that they would punish a horse that was underweight more than one that was overweight.
Laurie Lawrence, PhD, professor of equine nutrition at the University of Kentucky, in Lexington, equates this to the adage “beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” What one person might find overweight, another might find right. This standard appears to be discipline-specific.
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