Healthy weight for winter - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 9 Old 01-15-2010, 01:07 PM Thread Starter
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Healthy weight for winter

My horse has what I believe is a good winter weight. You can feel her ribs but not easily and you cannot see them. She has a wonderful winter coat and she is ridden lightly about 3x a week, weather permitting. I had a person tell me the other day that she should put on more weight because it is winter and she'll need it to stay warm. We are currently having a mild January but when it gets really cold I always up her feed. I think that if she gains more weight she'd be overweight and I don't think that is healthy. This is our first winter caring for her (she was kept elsewhere last year) and I just don't know if it is smart to go into spring overweight. Do most people have their horses gain extra weight for the winter?

Is it just me or is this person a bit "off" with their suggestion?
newhorsemom is offline  
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post #2 of 9 Old 01-15-2010, 01:24 PM
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I like my horses to have a little meat on there bones especially in the winter. to keep them warm. It is probably too late this year. Do you have pictures?
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post #3 of 9 Old 01-15-2010, 02:05 PM
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Most of my horses loose weight in winter, because its just harder on them. I just feed extra fiber to keep them digesting to keep them warm. I prefer to blanket underweight horses. I have no problem with horses going down 1 on the body scale over the winter. If a horse goes from like a 7 to a 4 you have a problem.
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post #4 of 9 Old 01-15-2010, 02:24 PM Thread Starter
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I know I have current pictures, I just can't find where my hubby filed them! I keep looking...

She is definitely NOT under weight. She has put some weight on since summer, but not a lot. If you were to rub your hands solidly across her ribs you would not feel them. You can only feel them if you really press hard and even then it's not obvious.

I'm confident that if she gained more weight she'd be considered mildly overweight and I just was just thinking that that wouldn't be good for her. Do most owners have horses gain a "hay belly" for winter?
newhorsemom is offline  
post #5 of 9 Old 01-15-2010, 02:52 PM
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She's probably perfect. Check out a body condition score chart. Like How to Condition Score Horses - by Susan Evans Garlinghouse

She sounds like she's about at a 5. I like my horses (and it's healthiest for them) to be between a 4.5 and 5 in the summer and a 5-6 in the winter. Of course, my are fatties right now because it's been really cold so they've gotten fed A LOT more hay and have put on weight.

Most people think that a healthy weight is around a 7 when just judging by looks. They are wrong, but for some reason most people have no idea what a healthy body looks like for horses (or dogs for that matter).
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post #6 of 9 Old 01-15-2010, 06:43 PM Thread Starter
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Thank you for the great link! I would say Lily is solidly between a 5 and 6. I guess you're right that some people like to see horses around a 7 for winter - just not me.

Thanks again!!
newhorsemom is offline  
post #7 of 9 Old 01-15-2010, 07:35 PM
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I like my horses carrying a little more weight going into the winter, maybe a 6+. However, at this time of year, solidly between a 5 and 6 is perfect, IMO.

I find that I can not really trust my eye; that referring to a body condition chart is an excellent reference.
maura is offline  
post #8 of 9 Old 01-15-2010, 08:49 PM
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No problem Newhorsemom, I've found it to be a great help with keeping my old mare in good (but not too good) condition.

It really can be hard to tell just by looking at a horse what their score is. In reality you need to run your hands over them (esp in the winter) to see what kind of fat deposits they are carrying. Also, you need to take into account the fact that different breeds tend to deposit fat a little differently. It's really an accquired skill in my opinion.
MN Tigerstripes is offline  
post #9 of 9 Old 01-16-2010, 09:10 AM
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I was always told a good rule of thumb for winter is up the hay. I keep my girls eating all day long. Then if they are a bit fat come spring time i like to lean them up with work =]. All year round i let them eat as much as they will. Summertime i cut back a bit b.c they get to graze for about an hour a day instead of getting extra hay for lunch. I always blanket when its under 40. I pull the blanket off once a week to see whats going on under there =] and both my chubbsters are doing great =]. some horses are hardier than other as well. My two tbs hate the cold haha.
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