Overweight Horses, Inexperienced Owners
First off, this is my first post to this forum, although I've been following for quite some time. I'm glad to finally be a part of this community!
So I'm having an issue concerting some horses I'm working with. Rather, the issue is with their owners. The horses (two 6 year old, unbroken mares, about 15hh-15.2hh) are horribly overweight, to the point that I am concerned for their health. Even though it's cold and snowy here now (I'm in the Yukon), the extra weight is excessive. The horses are fed one square bale (about 50lbs) per day between the two of them (apparently they used to get a bale a day each!), as well as oats and some sort of compound pellet feed (I haven't seen any empty bags around so I'm not sure what's in it). They are not in any work right now, apart from basic ground work.
I've tried speaking with the owners about this, but they just sort of nod and smile and nothing changes. I've mentioned my concerns in regards to health AND the money they could be saving, but to no effect. They have never owned horses before and don't have much knowledge on horse keeping (although they DO mean well and everything, they lack the ability to carry out basic tasks such as haltering the horses safely), so I've tried to give them information including books but they just aren't receptive to it. At this point, I'm not sure what to do. I tend to be bit stringent about feeding, so it's hard for me to witness such careless abandon when it comes to severely overweight horses. That being said, horses are a bit like children in that everyone has their own way of doing things and I hate to interfere. They are, in essence, killing them with kindness.
Any ideas as to what I should do?
There's really nothing you can do. If they aren't receptive to any information or suggestions you offer... you can't beat it into them.
Half a bale of hay isn't all that much.... my guy who is decorating a pasture right now gets a full bale + whatever grass he grazes (very sparse due to drought) + 3qts of beet pulp and 1 1/2qts of grain and he's barely 14.2 and nowhere near overweight.
welcome to the forum. I hate to say it, but there's not much you can do. You've offered some advice and to educate them, I'd say that's the most you can do.
You could try to explain the similarity between diabetes and equine metabolic syndrome, what causes it, how to prevent it. Don't forget the difference, tho, and explain in rather drastic words what laminitis is. Don't suggest anything. Let them think about it.
And even if they would just scratch the grain and give all the hay they can eat, that would be of great help.
What deserthorsewoman said.
I tried to find a credible article that flat out slaps people in the face regarding horse obesity.
This is as close as I could come. World Horse Welfare: Latest News
It would be great if you could at least copy/paste the text part of the article to a Word document, print it off, and use a highliter on some of the key points, as they apply to these people.
All I can say is, if they continue to be "cute" in their inexperienced thinking, you're going to have to tell them you're sorry but you can't help them anymore and walk away.
It's going to tear you to pieces to watch them stuff those horses full of grain; the hay is good but they don't need grain.
A horse should have anywhere from 1.5% to 2% of its bodyweight in hay, every day. Maybe more where you live because horses in your area burn more calories to stay warm than horses further south.
Yeah, as Desert & Walkin have said, just keep trying, & give them some articles & info by reputable sources, so they know it's not just your opinion.
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