Poll Recap: Equine Weight Management Challenges

Poll Recap: Equine Weight Management Challenges

Of the 576 respondents, 277 (48%) said their horses are easy keepers and gain weight easily.

Photo: Photos.com

Is your horse too fat, too thin, or just right? Many factors ranging from breed or activity level to disease status or age can impact a horse’s weight and body condition, which can turn keeping your horse at an ideal weight into a difficult task.

In last week’s online poll, we asked our readers if managing their horses’ weight was a challenge. More than 550 people responded, and we’ve tallied the results!

Of the 576 respondents, 277 (48%) said their horses are an easy keepers and gain weight easily, while 115 individuals (20%) indicated they have hard keepers that can easily become too thin. Some 153 respondents (27%) said their horses’ weights are just right, and the remaining 31 respondents (5%) have other equine weight challenges.

Additionally, more than 50 people shared experiences with managing their horses’ weights:

Several people said they manage a mixture of both easy and hard keepers:

  • “I have three easy keepers and one hard keeper. Separate feeding is hard as they are out 24/7.”
  • “I have one of each. They're both a challenge but well-within what I'm able to manage.”
  • “My own three horses (two Arabians and a Mini) are at good weights, but my husband's Quarter Horse is a picky eater and a bit thin.”
  • “I have five horses which cover all three categories. The hard keeper is 29 and the easy keeper the 'youngster' at 15.”
  • “Yes. I have a slim ancient Arabian, a fat Warlander, and a just-right Quarter Horse.”
  • “I have a combination of each type in my herd.”
  • “I'm currently feeding 15+ horses. I have two that are too thin and two that have to wear grazing muzzles.”
  • “I have all of the above, so some have to eat separately to make sure they all keep well.”
  • “I have one very easy and one very hard keeper. They're total opposites.”
  • “Actually I have an easy keeper and a hard keeper. I must separate them at feeding time, three times a day.”
  • “I have one easy keeper, one hard keeper, and one in the middle.”
  • “I have one of each. It's a challenge when they are out together for grazing or hay.”
  • “I have one that is metabolic and lives on air and another that eats everything and stays thin.”

A few respondents said their horses are easy keepers:  

  • “My mare eats anything and everything, and it doesn't take much for her to gain weight.”
  • “With two easy keepers, it is a challenge.”
  • “My sports horse only has to look at a blade of grass and she blows up.”

Some mentioned other equine weight challenges they deal with:  

  • “I had a horse that was insulin resistant. His diet was a challenge. Poor old guy is now grazing in heaven. I miss him so much.”
  • “He's a good-doer in the summer, but a poor-doer in the winter”
  • “My horse gets a little overweight during the summer but with enough exercise it isn't a problem.”
  • “We have several older horses with teeth issues, some became picky eaters, others are metabolic, etc.”
  • “Yes, my senior horses (ages 24-46) were easy keepers ... until their teeth fell out.”
  • “He loves to eat, but is picky about what he eats.”
  • “Controlling my two donkeys' weights is a big challenge.”
  • “My hard-keeper's weight is good now, but finding the right diet has been challenging.”

And others shared their equine weight management strategies:

  • “Lots of turn out and free choice forage with a vitamin/mineral balancer helps to keep him trim now.”
  • “All my animals are evaluated each month and their diets are modified (if needed) to keep them healthy looking.”
  • “Muzzles, bringing them in early through the spring, and no grain are all part of my horses' day.”
  • “I feed according to her weight. If she's gaining, I cut back. If she's losing then I add.”
  • “They get weighed every six weeks at their shoeing appointment.”

You can find additional information on equine weight management, feeding horses to reduce weight or body condition, tips for feeding mature, healthy hard keepers, how to determine your horse’s weight and ideal body condition, and more at TheHorse.com!

This week, we want to know: do you feed your horse alfalfa? Vote now and share your comments at TheHorse.com/polls

The results of our weekly polls are published in The Horse Health E-Newsletter, which offers news on diseases, veterinary research, health events, and in-depth articles on common equine health conditions and what you can do to recognize, avoid, or treat them. Sign up for our e-newsletters on our homepage and look for a new poll on TheHorse.com.

About the Author

Jennifer Whittle, TheHorse.com Web Producer

Jennifer Whittle, TheHorse.com Web Producer, is a lifelong horse owner who competes with her Appaloosas in Western performance events. She is a University of Kentucky graduate and holds a bachelor’s degree in Community Communications and Leadership Development, and master's degree in Career, Technical, and Leadership Education. She currently lives on a small farm in Lawrenceburg, Kentucky.

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