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Hey all, the vet was out last week. He says my mare is 150# overweight. She gained 80 more since the last time he told me she was too heavy. My question is, what kind of exercise regimen can I start to help her lose weight and condition her. Currently she is on Enrich Plus 1/4# twice/day and she gets about 15# of grass hay/day. She was given 4# of alfalfa/day all winter, but she rarely gets that anymore. She is kept in a paddock with very light grass. We do have a round pen. Thank you in advance for any input!
 

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If your horse is obese & unfit, lots of walking & a little trotting, in sessions as long as she can do without getting very puffed, a few times a day would be ideal. Get out & take her for walks, either ridden or on lead. As she becomes fitter - or if she's not that bad - you can do more. I'd avoid high impact stuff, lots of circles(like lunging) etc until she's fitter.

As for feed, I do believe balanced nutrition is vital, so *appropriate* supplements are beneficial. But I think you can do better than Enrich. (Aside from my dislike of Purina for a number of reasons...) It is very high in protein & calcium, which can be a problem(for weight gain among other things) if too high & doesn't include other vital ingredients that are often(you need to do an analysis to really know) deficient in the diet. I'm assuming your ##'s are pounds? If you're only feeding 1/2lb/day, this falls far short of Purina's recommended 1-2lb/day, which means she's getting much less goodness out of it too. A better 'RB' that you don't need to feed much of, or a powdered supp or 'loose minerals', depending on what she needs is the way I'd go.

I would advise looking into magnesium & chromium supplementation, among other stuff, esp given high Ca diet. Gravelproofhoof is one place for more info there.

I wouldn't be feeding her any alfalfa at all. Very high energy, also high protein & Ca. I would consider keeping her off the grass, all together for now or part time, and soaking her hay, as it can be just as high in sugar as it was when alive, doesn't lose sugars in processing - so if for eg. it's 'improved' rye grass or such, was cut on a sunny afternoon, it can be very high sugar. Of course, if you have 'low NSC' hay, such as native grass, that makes it simpler & generally it doesn't need soaking. Feeding from a 'slow feed' net or such will slow intake & prevent gorging, so less feed will last her throughout the day without her going hungry.
 

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We can't give you a specific schedule since that's really going to depend on your horse and how she does. The best thing to do is to get her moving. A little bit at a time if you have to and build up a little more each session.

Are you not riding her?

You can do some round pen work or lunging, but that gets boring for a lot of horses. If you have some trails, try handwalking her if you're not riding, or go for a jog on the trails and bring her along.
 

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DA, I'm not currently riding her. My SIL rides her for me occasionally because she has to have a confident rider and I'm greener than green. I've owned her for just over a year. She's fino gaited and I've no experience with that quick feeling gait. I'm currently racking up miles on my 23yo gelding who is also a Paso, he doesn't gait though ;) Last time my SIL rode her she was really tight on one side would not flex, so I've been waiting on the chiro to come out before I really start working her. I think her shoulder is bothering her, but we'll see. The chiro will be out tomorrow, but I'm guessing all that extra weight has a large affect on her out of tune gait too. Thanks for the feed info TX. It's true we feed them the same stuff year round and they are not worked nearly enough. Unfortunately, I'm at my MIL's barn, she's the one who gifted me the horses and she's a bit stuck in her ways...but, my barn is going up this summer, so things will be changing :)
 

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Update

Hey all, we've been exercising everyday (just about). Walking, running, obstacles, up and down hills and light lunging and we're down 61#! :-o
 

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She's gorgeous, I love her coloring.

Have you ruled out any health problems for her, lameness, thyroid issues etc? make sure you get her going on a clean bill of health before you start doing anything with her. She has to have an efficient digestive and metabolic system in order to start a workout program for weight loss. What breed is she?

The pastures in early spring and winter can have a high level of soluble carbohydrates which can mimic a high grain diet for a horse and increase their total intake of starches and proteins. You should limit the grazing either by limiting her time spent on grass or using a grazing muzzle. In order to meet their mineral and vitamin requirement a horse needs to eat about five to six pounds of fortified grain mix each day. Supplemental vitamins and minerals should be given to any horses receiving less in order for them to stay healthy and perform at acceptable levels-but that's for a horse that is on a workout program!

For an overweight horse the most important part of managing their diet is to properly balance their mineral and vitamin intake while on a limited grain diet. You can consider changing from a calorie dense feed to a feed that provides lower calories but at the same time has all the vitamin and mineral requirements. This is usually the better way rather than just trying to reduce the horse’s weight. A horse may loose weight if you drop their feed, reduce grazing and cut back on their hay, but there is also a negative effect to this such as substandard hair coat, little stamina and a bad attitude.

The next thing to look at is exercise. You can either increase the intensity and/or duration of the exercise program or you can reduce how much energy and protein you feed the horse each day. That part you need to look at on your own because I don't know what you have access to. Starting slowly at a walk, then increasing trotting to your session and so on, will help increase her stamina and get her metabolism going.
 

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Thank you! She's a Paso Fino.
I've had her seen by a spine specialist, chiro and annually the vet. She had injections in the hocks and stifles last year, and the specialists thought one time would be sufficient. She's head neck and shoulder problems off and on.. Both the vet and the chiro think it has a lot to do with her work load (none) and her weight. So, I'm starting there. I started just hand walking her until her nostrils start to flare, and I've steadily moved up from there, giving her a day off here and there or just going with a leisure walk.
She's out in a paddock that could almost be considered a dry lot. There's not a lot of grass and she shares with 2 other horses. We give 3-4 pads of hay/day which equals out to about 14-16#. We've had the hay tested and it's at good levels all around. She also receives Purina Enrich 32 grain 2xday. I could probably cut that out, though I'm not sure how I would break that to her.. Lol
My current plan is just to get her moving and build some muscle. Our horses typically are not expected to work at all, except for maybe a 15-45 minute ride 1-2x/month only in the summer.
If she comes up lame after all this conditioning, I'll bring her back to the spine specialist.
Thank you for the information. I'll keep you posted.
 
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