David Rendle of the BEVA ethics and welfare committee spoke to “The Telegraph” about the issue. He said that studies show that about 50% of all the horses in the United Kingdom are overweight. The Royal Veterinary College researched and found that about 70% of the pony breeds native to the UK are obese.
So what if they’re fat?
We are used to thinking of horses as perpetually in-shape muscle machines, so the concept of an overweight horse might be hard to imagine. But they are very real, and they require proper treatment. An overweight horse is at greater risk of facing further medical issues such as laminitis. Laminitis is a form of inflammation that hurts the tissue connecting a horse’s leg to its hoof. According to the report in “The Telegraph”, approximately 600 horses with that condition end up being euthanized every year.
Rendle doesn’t think things are about to get better soon. When talking to “The Telegraph”, he explained that horse obesity has become so prevalent that owners no longer appreciate a healthy horse when they see one. In fact, more often than not, show horses are overweight, which creates an unhealthy model for other horse owners to look up to.
Why does it happen?
This isn’t the first time for this issue to surface. Actually, UK veterinarians have been reporting a steady rise in horses’ weight in the past few years. Some say that the increasing obesity rate is caused by poor knowledge — owners who don’t know enough about proper horse nutrition. Others think it’s because horses’ natural weight loss process is inadvertently compromised by their owners (through acts such as covering them in the winter, not allowing them to burn enough calories to keep warm). It seems the key to making things right again is in the hands of horse owners who need to better educate themselves on their precious horses.