Do or diet: Slimming club for podgy ponies proves popular

File image by Navid Bazari

Owners of overweight horses are flocking to sign up for an equine slimmers club launched by a British feed company.

Launched four months ago, the Spillers Slimmers’ Club has more than 1400 members and gives information and advice including weight loss tips, details of how to body condition score and use a weigh tape, diet plans and weight loss records. Club members also receive access to a dedicated Facebook group where they can share their horse’s progress and tips with other owners, as well as post questions for Spillers nutritionists to answer.

The initiative has the support of charity Redwings Horse Sanctuary, whose staff hope it will help people recognise that an overweight horse can be as much of a welfare risk as an underweight one. Redwings has worked with Spillers for almost 20 years to help raise awareness and support horse owners on a range of health and wellbeing issues.

The club is also being applauded by a Scottish equine veterinary practice as a friendly, practical, and motivating way to support owners of overweight horses and ponies with weight loss programmes.

“We fully endorse the Spillers Slimmers’ Club and actively work alongside our own clients with our ‘Fit not Fat’ messaging to help to educate owners about the importance of maintaining their horses at a correct weight,” said Liz Somerville, Managing Director of Loch Leven Equine Practice in Kinross-shire.

“We actively encourage all horse owners to regularly weigh and body condition score their horses, as well as seek professional advice on correct feeding.

“The culture that we live in makes people feel uneasy when they see a thin horse, yet the health risks associated with obesity can often outweigh the risks associated with an underweight horse. We are passionate about prevention and by working together we hope that we can reduce the number of horses that we see with obesity-associated illness.”

Obesity is a major welfare issue for horses and ponies, not only because of the direct weight-associated effects, but also because of the increased risk it poses for certain clinical conditions, in particular laminitis. Other health and welfare implications include increased joint strain, respiratory stress, heat intolerance, an increase in chronic low-grade inflammation in senior horses and reduced fertility.

The initiative is supported by Redwings Horse Sanctuary who hope it will help people recognise that an overweight horse can be as much of a welfare risk as an underweight one.

Do or diet: Slimming club for podgy ponies proves popular

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