Bring a fat horse back into condition - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 22 Old 12-05-2019, 12:27 PM Thread Starter
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Bring a fat horse back into condition

Looking for suggestions on how to bring our obviously overweight QH/draft back into condition.

We got Duke, QHx gelding, 15-15.2hh, back in Jun 2019. He was used at a riding school in lesson 4-5 times per week. Mostly walk/trot and also some jumping (up to 1.5'). This is how he looked then and now.

My dilemma is that Duke needs to lose weight, while Montana, the paint, needs to gain a bunch (he's 26yo and has lost a ton of weight since he lost his long term buddy back in feb 2019). They're at my parents place, who are looking after them for the most part, since our time is very limited as we have a toddler and a 7m old. So I can't ask them to feed them separately, as they already do a ton of work.

The horses have free choice good quality, medium nutrition hay, access to fresh water and mineral lick at all times. Treats include carrots/apples. We give a senior ration with other weight gain stuff for the other guy, and Duke usually a carrot or a handful of oats just so he doesn't feel left out.

While I can't really do much about feed reduction, winter is here and that should help with burning some calories. But what I'm looking for is an exercise program that would gradually lose some of that flubber. He's getting a crest and clear fat deposits over the shoulders and rump.

With the days being short/cold/and not always riding friendly (no arena) its been tricky. I've been able to get 2-3 rides per week, which is exhausting for me, as I don't have a ton of free time or energy. But Ive been making it a chore so it gets done. Am I kidding myself that with a few hours a week at a walk/trot he'll actually lose some weight? I have the option of having someone come and ride him prob once a week, but I still need to be present for that, for safety reasons.

What body score would you give him? He is tipping the scale at 1400lb (approx via weight tape).

Thanks in advance for all the input.
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post #2 of 22 Old 12-05-2019, 12:32 PM
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Kudos to you for managing to get on him 2-3x per week with two little ones. Mine are a little older now 5 and 7, and it's made such a huge difference. We keep setting a date to start trying for a third, and I keep pushing it back because I know a baby will have such a huge effect on how much I am able to do with the horses.

How long are you riding when you do ride him? Do you have hills you can ride him on or is it flat ground?
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post #3 of 22 Old 12-05-2019, 12:45 PM Thread Starter
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Well I shouldn't brag too much, this 2-3 times a week is a recent thing, as in very recent. Only a few weeks lol. And it's a big struggle to do that. I keep telling myself that I need to get that weight off of him, and I need to get back in shape, as I really feel that lack of muscle tone post babies.

The time in the saddle varies. when the footing is decent I'll get him to run a few laps around a 60' round pen as a warm up, and then go for mostly walk, some trot and a barely any canter ride that will last between 30-90min. It's mostly flat, but we do have rolling acres too. Nothing to call a real hill though.

I've started using a horse riding app to keep track of the rides.
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post #4 of 22 Old 12-05-2019, 03:26 PM
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I have a 21 year old extremely easy keeper, and had a 28 year old who needed far more. I put Sassy, the chubby one, on a Campbell's soup can of low starch/sugar twice a day along with local grass hay. The older girl got senior feed about 6# a day and grass hay. There was no way to do this without separating them long enough for the older one to at least eat her ration. (She maintained weight well and until the last day did not look 28.) They played musical stalls with the hay. In good weather I could put the hay outside to that saved some hassle.

Pasture is probably not a major issue considering your location but it could be a big deal in the spring when the grass starts to grow again. It's difficult when you have 2 with very different requirements and limited help. And weather conditions and family obligations hardly allow you the time required to literally work the pounds off him.

I feel for you. It's tough.
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post #5 of 22 Old 12-05-2019, 08:00 PM
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I do not think it is possible to take much weight off a horse by simply an easy ride, 2 or 3 times a week. It can help but, you may not see a big change unless the food is restricted.



On the other hand, it can't hurt. And, you are doing what you can. How can you require more?


Long trots help to lose weight and get into shape. Long walks, too, if there are hills. If you are posting the trot, it will help you improve your fitness too.


He's a cute horse. Being a draft cross, he's going to be chunky looking no matter what.
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post #6 of 22 Old 12-05-2019, 08:35 PM
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Not sure if this fits for horses, but research shows that it takes a minimum of 15 minute of exercise at a heart rate of 70-80% of the theoretical maximum for the body to start burning fat. And that is supposed to continue for a few hours after the 15 minutes.


Two 15 minute intervals spaced apart is supposed to be better than one 30 minute interval.


Now this is only about turning on the enzyme secretion or whatever for fat burning. Cardiovascular fitness is a whole 'nuther thing. 30 minutes is the minimum for that as I recall.


I would speculate it would be the same for horses. But that's only a speculation and on the internet at that!
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post #7 of 22 Old 12-05-2019, 09:36 PM Thread Starter
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@Dustbunny you fed her grain 6 Times per day? Lol don’t think I could pull that off! The weight tape estimates Montana (skinny guy) at 850lbs and I prefer him around 950lb. That does make him look a bit like a butter ball. But I prefer that for him since he’s 26, going on 27, esp that winter is just starting. Right now i can see his ribs and his withers became quite prominent that the usual saddle no longer fits.

For Duke, the extremely easy keeper, I think he should be closer to 1200lbs instead of the 1400 the tape is showing.

Here’s a bunch of pics of both.
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post #8 of 22 Old 12-06-2019, 12:13 AM
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Hard to tell with the winter coat, but I would put Duke at a 5-6 scale and the paint at a 3-4 scale, so maybe not as bad as you might think. The paint being a senior, could loose fat quickly so needs to be watched carefully.

Duke I wouldn't worry about too much, as the winter can use up more energy.

Neither one seem to be very fit though, if you can ride/work Duke some over the winter it would help him gain muscle tone.

Overall both look pretty good, and look like kind horses.
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post #9 of 22 Old 12-06-2019, 12:36 AM Thread Starter
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@AnitaAnne thanks. You’re right, neither one are really fit. I fall under the same category too lol. With the lack of time, the horses are mostly lawn ornaments. I have been trying to get 2-3 rides per week over the last few weeks. Took Duke out on a 5 km walk today. If the stars align, the plan is to continue riding throughout the winter more or less consistently.
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post #10 of 22 Old 12-06-2019, 01:09 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Saigold View Post
@Dustbunny you fed her grain 6 Times per day?
I fed her 6 Pounds of senior feed a day, 3 pounds am, 3 pounds pm. She was Arab/Saddlebred so not stock type.

If you ever find yourself in a fair fight, it's because your tactics suck. ~ Marine 1SGT J. Reifinger
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