Winter is finally over. Spring is here, the sun is back (in between the rain showers) and we’re beginning to feel the warmth returning to our toes (in our wellies). All is well until you look down and realise that maybe you bulked a little too much over the winter period and perhaps those 20 Easter eggs could’ve been shared instead of eating them all in one go. Who knows? The mind boggles. However, the same may not be said about your horse who likely managed to shed a few pounds over the winter period. But now spring is here what can we do to make sure our little blobs don’t balloon with all of that lush spring grass? Here are a few tips to reduce the balloon….
- When feeding our plump pumpkins it’s important to feed a low calorie diet. If your horse is having too many extra calories, they may become sluggish and seem to lack in ‘energy’ which may lead you to think ‘shouldn’t I be feeding something to give my horse MORE energy?’. Here’s the catch; energy and calories are the same So the more calories (and therefore energy) you feed, the more weight they’re likely to gain. Therefore we recommend feeding feeds low in starch, sugar and oil. This way they won’t be having those additional pesky calories which lead to expanding bellies (we all know the ones)…
- Cutting calories doesn’t mean cutting nutrition! If your horse or pony is on a calorie restricted diet, it’s important to ensure that your horse or pony is still receiving all of their daily recommended vitamins and minerals. Feeding a balancer will help them meet their daily vitamin and mineral requirements without leading to additional weight gain.
- Body Condition scoring (BCS) is a crucial tool to determine your horse or pony’s fat coverage. Being overweight can lead to certain conditions such as laminitis as well as putting additional strain on their heart and joints! After all, a healthy pony is a happy pony! BCS regularly to maintain an up-to-date familiarity of their condition and feed accordingly! You can find more details on how to BCS correctly here.
- If you’re wanting to know a rough estimate of your little one’s body weight then opt for the classic weight tape. If you’re wanting to know more about how to correctly measure your horse using a weigh tape, click here for further information!
- Why not consider weighing your horse on our weighbridge? If you have 10+ horses at your yard, a free weighbridge clinic can be arranged with a member of our nutritional team which will not only provide you with an accurate weight of your horse, but you’ll also receive some nutritional advice on what feed would be most suitable. To book a weighbridge clinic, just complete our quick & easy form online..
- Now you know your horse’s weight, try and weigh out your feeds as much as possible so you’re aware of how much you’re putting into the bucket! You may be giving them more than their requirement without realising…
- Your pony/horse shouldn’t be fed less than 1.5% (dry weight) bodyweight of forage per day, if they’re being stabled for long periods then opt for ways to increase their eating time – chopped fibres, placing hay at different points in the stable and using hay nets with smaller holes or double netting!
- If you’re concerned about your hay then perhaps you could consider soaking it for 12-16 hours in tepid water (although in warmer weather, make sure you don’t soak for more than 6 hours). This will help to reduce the water soluble carbohydrate content by up to 50% making it the better option for you podgy pony! We would also recommend analysing your hay beforehand to be sure of the water soluble carbohydrate content.
We hope you have found these tips useful, but if you’ve got any other great tips for avoiding the balloon, let us know in the comments below?