A healthy mind
Horses are herd animals and even when dieting, need company at all times. If this is not possible, radios and mirrors can reduce stress levels. Toys and salt licks (non molassed) also make good distractors.
Finally, turn out and fresh air are important. Make the most of safe courtyards and outdoor schools to offer non-pasture turnout. If sound, take your horse for a wander as often as practical!
Marcus, below, is a great example of a horse kept entertained and happy whilst losing weight. Marcus presented to vet Nathalie with severe laminitis, a huge bulging neck crest and a condition score of 5/5.
Marcus’ diet was gradually reduced to 1.2% of his body weight of soaked hay daily, and all treats and hard feed were cut out bar a low calorie chaff. Luckily, Marcus’ owner had a concrete yard built around her stable block. This meant that once he was over the worst of his foot pain, he was able to live outside and interact with his friend without having access to any grass. Marcus was young, unbroken and sore footed so exercise was not an option. However, thanks to his loving owner’s perseverance and dedication, he managed to come down to a much healthier body score of ⅗ over a period of 8 months! We are extremely pleased to say that Marcus is now embarking upon a successful ridden career and has gained a lot more energy from having shed off his excess weight.