It can be difficult to accurately describe your horse’s condition as people can have very different perceptions of what constitutes a fat or a thin horse. The most objective way to assess your horse’s condition is to give him a Body Condition Score, which involves looking at and feeling areas of his body to determine levels of body fat. As a rough guide, you should be able to feel a horse’s ribs but not see them, however, there is much more to consider than that! You can also evaluate your horse’s muscle development and top line as well as using a weightape or weighbridge to find his bodyweight.
Click here to find out about giving your horse a Body Condition Score and a Top Line Assessment.
The Feed Finder will help to establish your horse’s bodyweight and work out what to feed.
A horse who is underweight is basically not receiving enough calories from his diet to meet his requirements for work and body maintenance. This could be a case of simply not feeding enough or of not using a feed with a high enough calorie/Digestible Energy (DE) content. Weight loss can be caused by a number of other different factors, for example, problems with teeth and poor worming regimes may cause weight loss, regardless of what or how much you are feeding. Equally a stressful environment, injury, a horse’s age or cold weather can have an effect. All these aspects of your horse’s management regime should be considered and addressed, where necessary, as changing the diet alone may not provide the solution if the horse is still suffering other problems.
Find out more in these articles:
Feeding to Promote Weight Gain
Conditioned to Perfection
Fit not Fat
How to get Top Line & Condition
Products you may be interested in include:
Top Line Conditioning Cubes
Top Line Conditioning Mix
Slow Release Condition & Competition Mix
Feeding the recommended amount of a specially formulated conditioning feed is the most cost effective way to promote weight gain and is infinitely preferable to the commonly chosen alternatives like, feeding more of a lower energy feed, adding straights, like barley, to an existing diet, or relying on a fibre feed alone. Conditioning feeds, like Top Line Conditioning Mix and Cubes, are designed to deliver more calories per kilo than a cool mix or high fibre cube and are highly digestible so the horse can make the most of every mouthful.
Being calorie-dense and digestible also means that meal sizes can be kept manageable so feeding bucketfuls of concentrate feed is not necessary. Where a horse requires more calories than the recommended amount of a conditioning feed can supply, Baileys Outshine high oil supplement can be added to provide further concentrated, slow release calories in a small volume.
Click to find out more about feeding for condition:
Feeding to Promote Weight Gain
Fit not fat
Click for information on the conditioning feeds in the Baileys range
By ensuring your horse gets a balanced diet all year round, you can avoid seasonal fluctuations in condition. In the spring and summer when more calories are provided by grass, you may be able to replace some or all of your horse’s mix or cubes with a balancer, like Lo-Cal or Performance Balancer. This will help maintain muscle tone, tissue integrity and healthy hoof growth by providing essential nutrients whilst still reducing the calories “in the bucket”.
The aim is always to be sure that a horse’s diet provides sufficient calories and other nutrients so that he can maintain the desired condition whilst his work is also supported. As the temperature drops in the autumn and grass quality reduces, it is prudent to switch to a conditioning feed sooner rather than later. Ensure the horse always has ad lib forage (hay or haylage) when stabled and keep him warm to avoid him having to use energy to keep warm.
More information on preventing weight loss can be found here:
Matching Diet to Workload