Summer is wonderful for so many reasons, but it may also be the season when you struggle the most to manage your horse’s weight. Once upon a time, I thought using a dry lot was a good solution for my pudgy mare, but I’ve since learned there are better ways to help manage a horse’s weight. If your horse could stand to shed a few pounds, here are a few tips:
While this might seem like the most obvious answer, it can be difficult for some horse owners to implement. You might not have time to ride five days a week, but there are other ways to increase your horse’s movement. One idea is to create a track system (aka, Paddock Paradise) around the perimeter of your pasture, as this setup encourages horses to continually move. If your horse is stalled part or full time, consider keeping him outdoors with other horses 24/7 since horses living together as a herd tend to naturally move around the pasture more.
Another idea is working your horse in the round pen or on a longe line on days when you don’t have time to ride. Even twenty minutes of exercise is better than none!
Lay off the Grain
One of the biggest misconceptions many horse owners have is that all horses need grain or some type of processed feed, but this simply isn’t true, and it may be contributing to your horse’s weight problem. Good quality hay and/or grass, as well as a mineral supplement (and salt), often provide all the nutrients a horse needs.
Use a Grazing Muzzle
If your horse is on pasture full time and an abundance of grass is the main problem, consider using a grazing muzzle for at least part of the day. Grazing muzzles have a small hole on the bottom which allow a horse to drink and eat small amounts of grass. To acclimate your horse to a grazing muzzle, use it for short periods of time and work your way up to the length of time you’d like him to wear it.
If you have other strategies for managing a horse’s weight, feel free to share them in the comments!
Casie Bazay is a freelance and young adult writer, as well as an owner/barefoot trimmer and certified equine acupressure practitioner. She hosts the blog, The Naturally Healthy Horse, where she regularly shares information on barefoot, equine nutrition, and holistic horse health. Once an avid barrel racer, Casie now enjoys just giving back to the horses who have given her so much. Follow Casie at www.casiebazay.com.