BEVA Urge Owners To Act Now To Prevent Obesity Rise

equine flu outbreak, February 2019

BEVA Urge Owners To Act Now To Prevent Obesity Rise

The British Equestrian Veterinary Association (BEVA) have called for urgent action from owners to prevent their horses from suffering weight-related health and welfare risks as Spring approaches.

Effects of obesity concern, not only the horses health and welfare, but their performance too. As well as predisposing the horse to conditions such as laminitis and osteoarthritis, horse’s carrying excessive bodyweight will exhaust their energy much sooner than those of an ideal bodyweight.

BEVA again highlighted that today’s domesticated environment is partly to blame for the increase in bodyweight witnessed in the equine population. Easier and greater access to forage, hard feed, stabling, and rugs are reported still as the major cause of the equine obesity epidemic.

Although we are aware this is not a new problem, obesity and obesity-related conditions seem to becoming more and more common within the UK. In the past, studies have identified the reason why obesity is more common in native breeds and ponies due to them developing a highly effective energy-conserving system designed to cope with scrubby grasslands, but now being provided with access to lush, nutrient-rich pasture. However, in the UK, breed predisposition is becoming a less pronounced with obesity rates becoming high across many other breeds. 


Another major risk factor that has already been identified, which continues to be an area for consideration, is the horse’s workload. Recently, it has been identified that the population of horses used for leisure purpose and competing in unaffiliated competition have high levels of obesity – especially concerning those competing in dressage and showing. Additionally, owner recognition of body have been identified as poor, therefore putting overweight horses at risk of not being identified an no action taking place.

Chair of BEVA’s Ethics and Welfare Committee, Lucy Grieve commented;

There seems to be a stigma attached to having a ‘fit’ or lean horse on many livery yards when, in fact, such a horse is highly likely to be healthier than its overweight neighbour.”

Grieve continued to emphasise that “prevention is better than cure”, explaining;

 Avoiding weight gain is notoriously easier than trying to effect weight loss, so spotting that your horse is starting to put on weight is critical. Vets and owners need to work together as a team and monitor horses routinely. Taking steps to support weight control now and establish a healthy weight for your horse or pony is important to reduce the increased risks come the Spring.”

BEVA have announced they are now developing tools and information to aid the relationship between vets and owners and their joint efforts to tackle the equine obesity crisis.

If you are worried about equine obesity, charities such as World Horse Welfare and The Blue Cross, have already developed sources to provide you with basic information on how to prevent and tackle the problem. 


[avatar user=”AbbyDickinson” size=”medium” align=”center” link=”file”]Everything Horse News Reporter, Abby Dickinson[/avatar]

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