Changing the body condition of your horse

Changing the body condition of your horse

If a horse is too fat or too thin its body condition should be corrected. If the horse is healthy, have proper dental care and is dewormed according to your veterinarian’s advice, the body condition will to a major extent be a result of the horse’s physical activity, production (pregnant, lactating, growing) and energy intake.

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Body condition scoring
To describe the body condition of a horse, we use a system where a horse’s body condition score (BCS) can be set. The scale goes from 1 to 9, where 1 is extremely thin, 5 is moderate and 9 is extremely fat. To study this system in more detail, follow this link (Some countries also use a system with values from 1-5):
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henneke_horse_body_condition_scoring_system
This system scores the horses on fat cover at several locations on the body. This scale works on a Body Condition Score (BCS) from 1-10  For most horses, the optimal BCS will be in the range 4 to 5. For breeding mares, the BCS should be a little higher, 6 to 6.5, as this has been shown to increase fertility and reproductive success.

Today we don’t see so many thin horses. However, the number of fat or obese horses are increasing, as is the frequency of obese related diseases like insulin resistance and laminitis. In a recent Danish study on the body condition of Islandic horses in Denmark (Jensen et al., 2016), they found that 6 % of the horses had a BSC of 3 to 4 (were thin), while 24 % had a BSC of 7 to 9 (were very fat).
Changing the body condition of a horse
To change the body condition of a horse takes time. It can be obtained by:
1) Increasing or decreasing the physical activity (exercise) of the horse
2) Increasing or decreasing the energy content of the ration
3) A combination of 1 and 2.

Many factors will influence the amount of energy needed to gain weight or reduction of energy to loose weight. One rough assumption can be that increasing or decreasing the energy content of the ration 15-20% for 120 days will lead to 1 unit of change of body condition score. It is important to note that the body condition of a horse (or pony) should not be changed too quickly, as severe over or underfeeding may lead to several diseases.

In Pegus P C Horse we can adjust the calculated energy requirement of a horse by choosing “Correction of body weight” when Pegus enter the body weight of the horse (see picture). Pegus can then know how much the calculated energy requirement (in percent) is being changed (red figure). This option is active for all types of horses except for young growing horses. If the body condition of a young growing horse needs to be corrected, it can be done by choosing Normal or High targeted growth rate, or by choosing a higher or lower expected adult body weight, or to change the level of exercise. For a private consultation and feed plan contact your local feed stockist of Pegus and this can be arranged .

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For more advise on feeding and body conditioning contact Pegus Horse Feed
Free Phone Helpline R.O.I.= 1800-378463 UK = 0800 011 4182
www.pegus.ie info@pegus.ie

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Good Food Guide

  • Always ensure access to fresh water at all times
  • Feed by Weight, not Volume
  • Try and ensure feeding is regular and consistent
  • Adjust quantities of feed as necessary
  • Introduce changes to the horses diet slowly, as to reduce the incident of digestive upset
  • Ensure a good worming regime is in place
  • Check teeth regularly
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