Tuesday, March 31, 2009

All Horses

This blog is now part of the All Horses blog on WordPress.

Visit now at http://allhorses.freelief.com

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Site on the hazards of equine obesity.

Don't say I didn't try to warn you.
Excess weight and over-nutrition have a number of potentially negative effects, including:
  • Increased stress on the heart and lungs
  • Greater risk of laminitis or founder
  • Increased risk of developmental orthopedic (bone and joint) problems in young, growing horses
  • More strain on feet, joints and limbs
  • Worsened symptoms of arthritis
  • Less efficient cooling of body temperatures
  • Fat build-up around key organs which interferes with normal function
  • Reduced reproductive efficiency
  • Greater lethargy and more easily fatigued

From the American Association of Equine Practitioners booklet, which also includes very helpful indepth coverage of what to do in order to safeguard your horse's health.

Friday, July 25, 2008


Generally speaking ...
  • I'd rather see a horse a little overweight than a little underweight.
  • I'd rather see a horse a little underweight than a lot overweight.
  • I'd rather see a horse a lot overweight than a lot underweight.
But ideally, I like to see horses at a healthy weight.

Sometimes, that means work.
Money, too, perhaps—but mostly research and effort.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Knew I wouldn't have to search far...

to find a non-obese miniature horse.

This little fellow was in a farm animal petting zoo exhibit at the county fair.

Sorry, it's from the camera phone again. While there is plenty of "belly" it is not disproportionately huge compared to his shoulder and rump. You can't see from the pic that he's got visible bone structure, without being skinny. He has a neck, rather than just a slope from body mass to head.

He may not be broke to ride or drive, never asked, but he has a job nonetheless. Friendly, content and well cared for... and certainly tolerant! Thousands of people petting, poking and screeching over the course of a week, and he never looked stressed or depressed, tired or anxious. The other animals on display seemed to be similarly well cared for and well suited for their ambassador jobs.

You simply cannot give me the excuse that your horse is FAT because it's a MINI! I also do not accept young, old, broodmare or draft for excuses. A healthy horse is a healthy weight.

Friday, July 11, 2008

I know it's a mini, but ...

... is the belly really supposed to descend below the knees?

Another reader contribution:

Okay, maybe it isn't THAT bad ... but still ... the stress of that extra weight must be hard on those little legs.

His crowning achievement is "nice color all over." He is not broke to ride or drive. I have to surmise that his main exercise consists of avoiding being caught and avoiding being eaten by the big horse trying to nose into the photo.

Please don't tell me that ALL minis look like that. I'm certain I could easily prove you wrong, but I'm a busy gal today.

Look for a new Squidoo lens on AllHorses.us about the disgraceful TWH soring that continues to plague the who's who of the breed and WILL be the downfall of the Celebration and the registry if more sound horse owners do not pick off the lunatics running the asylum and make TWH showing what it should be ... about the natural, sound horse that is a joy to ride!

In closing, I KNOW how hard it is to keep weight off an "easy keeper" ... I'm fighting that battle with you! My own dear air fern seems to have gained about 100# in the past two weeks. Apparently I'm going to have to separate him from the normal horses again, and endure his pathetic one-eyed attempt at giving me doe eyes whenever I walk outside and see him wasting away in the smaller pasture ... drama queen that he is.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Excessively fat = not healthy!

When a friend shared this pic, I knew it would have to be a featured horse:

Click to enlarge... and just LOOK at that shoulder!

From the photographer:
"At the [horse] camp I used to run they had some HORRIBLY obese horses. I worked hard to get them in shape. The horses above are pictured AFTER they each lost [around] 250 lbs!

"I am so sad to hear from people who work there now that they had FIFTEEN horses founder this year. The people who took over after me said the horses were too skinny, so they started socking grain to [these] founder and laminitis cases, who I had been working to get down to proper weights.

"I found out these [three] horses are ALL gone now -- due to complications from FOUNDER."

This is what is called "killing with kindness" ... overfeeding to the extent that they become sick, crippled and may even have to be put down. I personally know of two horses that were purchased from that camp because they were founder-prone and often lame because the camp would not keep them separate from the rest of the herd to manage properly for their conditions. They are doing well in private ownership, but their diets have to be managed VERY strictly, as just a tiny bit of a bad thing causes immediate painful lameness!

If your fat horse is just fine -- it may be only a matter of time. Why risk it?

Monday, June 30, 2008

OMG what is that THING?!

Imagine you buy back a horse you used to own, sight unseen, and this is what gets dropped off in your pasture:

January 2007

This hippopotamus (sorry) was once a fairly fit, if stout, riding horse:

summer 2004

Look! He had a neck with an actual throatlatch then!

He was so obese, the owner didn't dare ride him in his condition, and was afraid founder was imminent.

She boarded him at a private barn with strict diet instructions, trying to hand exercise him as much as possible.

February 2007

Despite the owners' efforts, the weight was slow to come off. As spring approached, he'd lost enough to be able to cinch up a saddle, and exercise increased.

April 2007

However, the barn owner reportedly took it upon herself to feed him when he looked "bored" or "hungry" which slowed the rate at which he was able to shed the extra weight.

summer 2007

By the end of summer 2007, he was moved to a different barn, where his diet was better regulated.

January 2008

It took over a year to get him back to an acceptable weight.

Here he is now, still a big stocky boy, but no longer dangerously obese:

summer 2008

OMG! I think I see ... withers!!

Obesity in horses is a dangerous condition. It can cause irreversible damage, and should be considered as undesirable as malnutrition.

IMO and that of the owner of this horse, it is easier to add weight to a horse that needs it, than to remove excess weight from an overly fat horse.

There will always be a horse that stays thin no matter what or how much you feed it ... there will always be a horse that stays fat no matter how well you regulate its diet. I'm not on the warpath against people who happen to own such individuals and do their best to manage their weight and maintain a healthy condition. However, if you're overfeeding your horse because you LIKE to see them FAT ... STOP!!

Think about what is best for the individual horse.
Then feed accordingly.

Go figure.

Funny thing is, I didn't find these articles until after I started the blog:
An overeating, slothful horse leads to an obese horse. Unlike humans, however, horse owners often don't see the dangers of an obese horse. Caretakers may see no harm in giving their horses rich foods, but obesity in horses is just as unhealthy as obesity in humans and can lead to fatal diseases.
University of Missouri-Columbia. "Horses Suffer From Obesity, Just Like Humans." ScienceDaily 25 April 2007. [read article]
And another:
Horses face serious health risks because of obesity, according to recent research. Fifty-one percent of the horses evaluated during the pioneering research were determined to be overweight or obese -- and may be subject to serious health problems like laminitis and hyperinsulinemia. And just like people, it appears as though the culprits are over-eating and lack of exercise.

Virginia Tech. "Fat Horses Face Health Problems." ScienceDaily 10 July 2007. [read article]

So, maybe I'm on to something here.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Welcome to Obese HOTD

Skinny Horse of the Day has a sibling!

The name was inspired by the Fugly Horse of the Day blog, but the similarities end there.

I will profile random horses selected from photos available to the public in an effort to show that obesity in horses should be no more acceptable than malnutrition at the opposite end of the spectrum.

I have a few online friends who I believe will offer up some photos of their "easy keepers" on request, but we'll start with my own. (I'm well aware than any time you point your finger at someone, three point back at you.)

This is my overweight Tennessee Walking Horse gelding ... no, he's not a broodmare about to drop a foal any day. I limit his pasture and he gets no more than a handful of grain to wash down supplements. He's just a big fan of eating.

He's looking better today ... a brief illness caused him to drop at least 100 pounds if not closer to 200. He's got more energy and to put it bluntly I feel better about riding him in his present condition than I do when he's packing more fat and sweats more easily.

In short, my opinion is that moderately thin is a safer condition for the overall health of the horse than is moderately obese.

I welcome comments and opinions from those who agree and those who oppose this point of view.