Horse Health Days

August 2021

What is a Horse Health Day? 

The BHS Welfare Education team is available to visit any livery yard or riding school (BHS Approved or non-approved), shows, fun rides, colleges or equestrian centres with our healthcare vehicle and weighbridge. Horses will be weighed with a weigh tape and on the weighbridge. Working with the horse owner, we then fat score the horse and provide tailored advice about appropriate weight management options if needed. If necessary, we will also be on hand to provide any additional ongoing support to help with a horse’s targeted weight loss plan.

By working directly with horse owners and explaining how to fat score on the day, owners can then continue to assess their horse with more confidence in the future. We also run sessions at riding club and pony club camps to help educate and support the next generation – incorporating presentations (if time allows) and fun interactive games such as ‘guess the weight of the pony’.

There is no pressure on the day, and owners are encouraged to take their time getting their horse onto the weighbridge, allowing them to stop and sniff so the horse is able to gain confidence at their pace.

Horse owners are advised to wear appropriate PPE (riding hat and gloves) with the horse presented in a bridle for extra control if needed.

Horse health days
 

Disease prevention is of huge importance, so we have strict equine biosecurity and Covid-19 guidelines in place for all our events.


Why do we hold Horse Health Days?

Worryingly, up to 50% of horses are reported to be overweight or obese with this figure creeping up to 70% in some native pony breeds1. Most yards will not have access to a weighbridge, so we want to offer this opportunity to as many horse owners as possible.

Native breeds, cobs and draught types can usually cope very well on poorer quality grass. Management nowadays means horses often have access to quality grazing all year round and are exposed to milder winters with additional rugging and stabling. This means horses do not have to use as much energy to keep warm and if excess calories are being consumed, weight (and therefore fat) will begin to increase. Weight management can be a constant challenge and is a balancing act between providing the right diet, health care, exercise, and management. Our team understand how difficult weight management can be, we never judge and are here to help.

Horses carrying too much fat can be at an increased risk of health issues such as Equine Metabolic Syndrome (EMS), laminitis and arthritis which can be detrimental to their welfare.


Why is it important to know our horse’s weight?

  • Forage – most horses can maintain their weight by eating 2-2.5% of their bodyweight in forage per day. You should seek expert advice from your vet or equine nutritionist if your horse needs to lose or gain weight.
  • Medication or worming dose – dosage is calculated on your horse’s weight
  • Trailer/Lorry loads – do you know the legal maximum weight limit for your trailer or horse box? Do you know how much your horse and all your tack weighs?


Booking your visit

If you feel your yard would benefit from our Horse Health Days and would like further information, please contact: welfare@bhs.org.uk or call 02476 840517.


Reference

1) Rendle, D., et al (2018) Equine obesity: current perspectives UK-Vet Equine. 2(5).

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