Extremely easy keeper, very overweight

This topic contains 9 replies, has 9 voices, and was last updated by riding for Christ riding for Christ 2 years, 6 months ago.

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  • BuckarooBleu Original Poster BuckarooBleu
    Topics Started: 3Replies Posted: 3

    My 9 year old paint mare is an extremely easy keeper. I always joke that she could get fat on dirt and water, but I’m sure she could if I let her!

    In the summers she’s on pasture and can eat constantly, during the winter she’s fed 2 flakes of hay. She doesn’t get ridden too much in the winter, and during the summer she gets ridden at least twice a week.

    How can I control her weight? Can horses develop the same behavior as humans where they constantly eat food to escape their emotions? If they do, how can I help her?
    More riding? How often?

    She’s a very big mare, tall and thick with huge hindquarters, but she is definitely overweight and I’d really like to get her trimmed down.


    “Horses are incredibly forgiving. They fill in places we’re not capable of filling ourselves.”

    G & S
    Topics Started: 16Replies Posted: 253

    More riding time with you would help, or perhaps a buddy to play with in the turnout, so she moves more on her own? Or if you have a small dirt paddock perhaps she could spend part of the day or the night there. Another possibility is finding a 2nd person who is a good rider, and rides much the way you do, but cannot afford a horse of her own, but who would be overjoyed to exercise your horse 2 or 3 times a week, perhaps even to do some kind of partial lease, so that she contributes to the normal expenses of keeping a horse. Just make sure you find someone who rides much the same as you, or perhaps better, and could put not just some miles on your mare, but some training.

    Joe-Joe Joe-Joe
    Topics Started: 17Replies Posted: 1205

    Are you talking hay belly or overall weight? Exercise can help with both, as G&S says, and if you are only keeping her on pasture you should have it checked by your local Ag Agent. She could be missing a lot of necessary nutrients. If not, don’t keep her on the pasture 24/7.

    It is never the horse's fault

    pheets pheets
    Topics Started: 5Replies Posted: 477

    Food is energy. Mares, being the defenders of the herd members and babies (from predatours and hunger), will literally vacuum a yard for the sake of maintaining reserves in case flight is warranted. This is something that is in their instinct box and not going to dilute any time soon.

    It could be that her body does work like ours in that if we do’t meet the needs, we can get fluffy even tho we are hardly eating anything. If the right nutrients are not present, a body will subsist on itself. It will reserve and hold onto whatever is available to survive on. Humans actually can GAIN weight from not eating enough..I don’t know that this is true of horses.

    Good question!!

    Sure there's right and wrong but mostly there's just a whole lotta different.

    Topics Started: 0Replies Posted: 2

    I have a super easy-keeper Paso gelding. He is insulin resistant. Is your mare just sort of “fat all over” or does she have a cresty neck, “lumpy” fat and fat around her tail head? My boy’s neck gets cresty and he will get lumpy fat above his tail if I don’t manage him properly. Those can indicate IR not “just” overweight. You can ask your vet about it.
    You can try a grazing muzzle if you must leave her on pasture.
    I keep my Paso on a dry lot – NO grass – while my pasture is green. So he’s on that dry lot eating hay only from spring when the grass gets green until it goes dormant in the fall (I have Bermuda – luckily we have a winter and it goes dormant). I can’t even leave my boy out with a grazing muzzle though – he just can’t have lush green grass.
    You can try keeping her up during the day and out on the pasture at night too (and maybe even with a muzzle then). VERY generally speaking – most grass is safer at night than during the day. Grass sugar levels change greatly all day long – trigged by temperature, rain, no rain, amount of sun/clouds – it’s fickle stuff!
    Good for you for starting to notice her weight and look for some answers – I think we are far to used to seeing horses that are too fat – and it’s just not healthy for them.
    Good luck with her – easy-keepers sometimes are not ‘easy’ for us human caretakers!

    Topics Started: 0Replies Posted: 6

    It sounds like she has a thyroid problem. Horses get thyroid problems the same as people do. No matter how little you feed or how much exercise she looks fat. There is a product called Thyrol that you can give her. If I remember right it is one scoop/100 pounds of body weight. I always divided it into 3 feedings mixed with a pound of sweet feed i.e. 3 scoops am, 3 scoops noon, 4 scoops pm for a 1000 pound horse.

    Topics Started: 0Replies Posted: 25

    I have two easy keepers – and before I moved to my own property in Texas from Virginia, they were overweight (body scores of 7 – 8). Now they live on a dry lot and are fed coastal bermuda hay from slow feeder hay nets (Freedom Feeder brand) during the day. They go out on pasture for 1 – 2 hours at night, depending on how much (and how green) grass is there for their “mental health”. They get small amounts of senior feed twice daily. I try to exercise them as much as possible, but to tell the truth, it’s been so hot that they haven’t been ridden for two months. Now they are both “5” on the body condition scale. So – they have lost weight and maintained the weight loss by living on a dry lot, eating “lo-cal” hay using slow-feeder hay nets to spread their consumption over the day and (usually, but not always) exercising three times a week. No all-day pasture ever. I let them graze 1-2 hours at night (when grass has lower sugar content). Never all day pasture!

    Topics Started: 0Replies Posted: 1

    Horses are by nature supposed to eat almost all the time. They also are supposed to be moving almost all the time. Their stomachs produce acid all the time, unlike humans, so they need a continuous flow of forage to mix with the acid. Definitely add more riding/activity time, and consider using very small hole slow hay feeders to allow her constant access to forage.

    Joe-Joe Joe-Joe
    Topics Started: 17Replies Posted: 1205

    I would not treat for a “condition” unless it was diagnosed by my vet.

    It is never the horse's fault

    riding for Christ riding for Christ
    Topics Started: 1Replies Posted: 118

    All Paints are usually easy keepers, If your horse is in with other horses and it is the dominant (leader) horse it probably is eating more than the others. What we do with foundered horses is give them hay and water only for a while, and dry lot them, till there weight goes down enough for them to have there regular weight. But lunging and riding them every other day keeps there weight regular. Hope this is advice that helps.

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