How to prevent laminitis in horses
There are too many people in the “horsey world” who are killing their horses with kindness.
Horses that are over fed are generally overweight. To reduce the risk of laminitis in horses they must loose weight.
For a horse to be at the correct weight you should be able to feel his ribs (without seeing them).
Just run your
hands gently across the rib cage.
If you horse is overweight you need to limit the horse’s intake of grass, by using a muzzle or strip grazing (sectioning the field off using electric fencing).
Another option is to turn him out into a field where the grass is poor, this way he will be able to stay out longer.
If you don’t have an option and don’t want to put a muzzle on, then you should reduce the time spent in the field to a few hours a day, it might need to be reduced further.
Avoid turning the horse out early on a frosty sunny morning, as the fructan concentrate will be high. Waite for the frost to disappear, then you can turn out.
If the horse needs to lose weight you must reduce the calorie intake, but never starve the horse as this could lead to the horse developing gastric ulcers and other complaints.
Reducing calorie intake in hay.
If you are feeding the horse haylage, it’s time to stop now as it’s a high energy feed.
So to reduce the calorie intake in the hay, you would need to soak it in water over night.
The longer you soak it the better! All you need is a large black plastic dust bin, which you can pick up cheaply. Fill the bin up with cold water and place the hay net inside.
It’s that easy! This method will reduce the calorie intake in the hay and still keep your horse contented, as he will still have a full hay net.
The feeding of hard food will depend on what is expected of the horse and this should be discussed with the vet.
Personally I would only feed hard food if it was absolutely necessary and only a minimal amount.
The idea is for the horse to lose weight gradually. Starving a horse is not the answer.
A greedy horse or pony will often finish the hay net within a short space of time; he would then have to stand for a long period without fibre.
This can easily be overcome by filling up a hay net and placing it inside another hay net.
This will make the holes in the net smaller. Make sure the hay nets you use are small holed nets, like the one in the picture.
Using this method will take the horse twice as long to consume the hay and reduce the boredom for the stabled horse.
I have seen people use tiny holed nets. These are fishing nets and are extremely strong, but are costly to buy.
Never the less it could prove a good investment.
Exercising the horse
Just like us humans, diet and exercise go hand in hand. Regular daily exercise will benefit the horse.
It will assist in reducing the weight and benefit his well being. Your Vet will advise you and help you put an exercise plan together for daily management.
A horse that is stable for long periods of time could easily develop a stable vice.