Tips on working an overweight horse - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 10 Old 11-05-2013, 02:49 PM Thread Starter
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Needing tips on working an overweight horse

Hi everyone,

I know my new mare is overweight and I'm looking for some more tips on working her. We have a rather harsh winter and she will NOT be clipped or blanketed throughout the winter so I wonít be over working her. I have access to a small insulated arena (60x70 feet) to work without snow, outdoor round pen and hundreds of acres of blank fields. We were doing hill work in the summer but there aren't very many hills at our new location. I would hate to see her flounder so I am committed to working her (not for weight loss but so she doesn't get bigger) throughout the winter. She has access to hay 24/7 all winter and she is a PIG. Eats all day!
I guess what I'm looking for is some guidance on how to work her without working her too hard for the harsh winter. I already know how to cool her down properly and will take all the precautions :)

Here are some pictures for you to see her, the pictures aren't great for what I'm asking but they're all I have with me right now.

Thanks in advance!
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Last edited by caisiemay; 11-05-2013 at 02:56 PM.
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post #2 of 10 Old 11-05-2013, 09:18 PM
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Hi, as for work, the best is lots of low impact, low stress exercise. So motivating more exercise in the paddock is best if possible, and however many hrs daily you can manage at a walk & some trot.

If she is overweight, you do want her to lose some, not just not put on more, because its long term 'good condition' that is the major cause of metabolic probs, not necessarily obesity. While its not healthy for a animal like a horse to go hungry, free choice hay that she can gorge on is probably too much for her. Feeding about 2% bet daily of her *ideal* weight should allow her to get there & you can reduce that to no less than 1.5% if its still too much for her, or soak the hay.

Putting it into a 'slow feeder' net or such will prevent gorging & make it last so she doesn't go hungry. Also if she stands n eats all day, spreading the hay far n wide around the paddock in small amounts will help.

Oh & by the way, the saddle looks too far forward over her shoulders in that pic.
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post #3 of 10 Old 11-05-2013, 11:41 PM
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She doesn't look too bad from the pictures but it's hard to tell. Definitely doesn't need more!

Just wanted to add the obvious, make sure she is getting what she needs and not more! I assume you have cut out any grain or pellets or anything. Just hay and minerals.
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post #4 of 10 Old 11-06-2013, 12:43 AM
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She doesn't look to fat sure doesn't need to gain either. Ride her as many days as you can do lots of trotting. Don't feed grain hay and a vit min that's all most horses need.

My gelding last spring was a blimp he looked pregnant he was so fat had his head stuck in a hay bale 24/7. Took from spring early april to october to trim him down. Rode him 6 days a week 4 to 5 hours a day. Fed him less worked him more to trim him down gotta almost starve him....even at that he never got skinny.
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post #5 of 10 Old 11-06-2013, 10:35 AM Thread Starter
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Iím glad to hear the that some of you donít think sheís overweight! From doing research and having a couple people comment on her size I was concerned. Thanks everyone for your tips!

Quote:
Originally Posted by loosie View Post
free choice hay that she can gorge on is probably too much for her. Feeding about 2% bet daily of her *ideal* weight should allow her to get there & you can reduce that to no less than 1.5% if its still too much for her, or soak the hay.

Putting it into a 'slow feeder' net or such will prevent gorging & make it last so she doesn't go hungry. Also if she stands n eats all day, spreading the hay far n wide around the paddock in small amounts will help.

Oh & by the way, the saddle looks too far forward over her shoulders in that pic.
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Unfortunately I don't have the option to change her feeding. She is at a facility where they are fed round bales 24/7 for the winter. There are 20 horses in the (large) pasture so there is some competition to keep her away but she gets as much as she wants. In the summer she will have access to the bales for 5 hrs a day.

As for the saddle, I posted another forum about saddle placement. That picture was taken the first time I ever tacked her up alone and I've fixed the issue of saddle placement since then :) Needless to say, I'm a newbie when it comes to horses. But thanks to this forum and my trainer I'm learning lots!!
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post #6 of 10 Old 11-06-2013, 11:07 AM
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Is she ONLY getting hay or is there other feed in there as well? Are the horses in the pasture 24/7 as well? If you can't regulate any of her feed than you aren't going to be able to use that avenue get her weight down along with the extra exercise.

As has been indicated, low impact but high repetitive is what you need in the way of exercise. You indicated hills aren't available but even flat walking for 10 mins longer can help. Trotting should be kept to fairly low level...not even a full working trot at this point. Think of athletic interval training...walk her a few minutes, have her trot a minute..walk three, trot one etc. Monitor her breathing and give a longer break if she seems over stressed. If possible, do this twice a day vice only once. It is better to do more short term sessions than one big session. Be sure to allow her to walk and stretch it out afterwards.

If she is getting grain, cut back the grain amount by about 1/4 for the entire day's amount. For example, if she is getting 2 quarts per feeding, cut it back to 1 1/2. This isn't a major change in the amount. Monitor closely..as someone indicated she doesn't look to be extremely overweight and it could be the added exercise alone will help.
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post #7 of 10 Old 11-06-2013, 11:56 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tlkng1 View Post
Is she ONLY getting hay or is there other feed in there as well? Are the horses in the pasture 24/7 as well? If you can't regulate any of her feed than you aren't going to be able to use that avenue get her weight down along with the extra exercise.
They are in the pasture 24/7 and she is only being fed good quality hay. The facility is a small, family run operation. It's very basic, no extra feedings or separated pens.
I will try the walking and trotting interval technique for the winter and see where that gets us. I'm sure that'll be perfect and we will increase to muscle work in the spring.
Thank you :)
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post #8 of 10 Old 11-06-2013, 04:43 PM
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If you're not going to restrict feed at all, you'll just have to do a LOT of exercise with her, to make up for all the extra calories. If there is seriously no room for any kind of changes, I'd be looking for a better setup. But a grazing muzzle is one option.
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post #9 of 10 Old 11-06-2013, 08:15 PM
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You have to restrict feed intake or your horse will gain weight over the winter. I know from experience having out round bales for horses to eat 24/7 equals my gelding getting like a blimp. If she's like my horse he never leaves the bale only for a drink. He sleeps there poops there and pees there never goes more then 10 feet from bale....hes a major pig.

So unless you plan on working her pretty hard this winter she's going to get way to fat on round bales.
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post #10 of 10 Old 11-08-2013, 01:42 AM
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You can put a grazing muzzle on her maybe? Talk to the BO. She doesn't look to bad, need to loose weight but I wouldn't panic over it.
Do not "almost starve" her! Cutting down feed drastically is something I did with my own horse, but since it is the internet I don't want you to take that too literally. Obviously you aren't going to starve her but even 1 flake a day or whatever is much too little. They can't diet the way we can. Cutting down too drastically (even without "starving") can cause very serious health issues. You probably know that just wanted to mention!
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