View Full Version : Disgustingly fat horses, any tips

29-01-08, 10:14 AM
I have my first THS to get out again but I can't get a girth to fit.
Has anyone got any tips on locking up over fat horses - with a water only diet, or water and little hay. Will I need a few days or a week...it sounds cruel. This is my first experience ever with this problem!

I tried lunging in my round yard today but horsey soon got over heated and so did I. I am not a great fan of the lunge. Would prefer to be saddled up & going.

With this super wet season we are enjoying I guess I am not the only one with this concern, and of course there has been the long lock down period we have just gone through.


29-01-08, 10:19 AM
A bit of lunging would help - and it's cheaper than buying a new girth LOLS.

As for locking up - do it at night at least, with water of course and maybe some hay, but not all day - horsie would just go mad and he's better off walking around in his paddock.


Horse sense - something that horses have that stops them betting on humans.

29-01-08, 10:27 AM
Hi Billybingbone have you thought of getting your pony a muzzle?
they can still drink but cant graze.
i would still be giving a little hay so that its stomach can still process stomach fluids.

if your not into lunging and i cant say i blame you (tis the quickest way to get me falling over like a drunk :P )
i would give hill work a go, lots of troting up and walking down is great for the horses and our figures, and is not to stressful for those carrying a bit of extra weight :)
Cheers Pauper

29-01-08, 10:28 AM
you can get girth extensions heh heh! perhaps it's just a grass belly?
but all jokes aside his gut needs to keep working with something - even if it's a little soaked meadow hay

29-01-08, 10:46 AM

try locking him up in a small grazed out section of paddock
he will still need bulk though, its probably not a good idea to give them air to live off!
try giving grass hay that has been soaked in water for a few hours, as this can remove minerals etc. so your boy will just be getting the benefit of bulk

the lunging is a great idea too, a little bit every day until you start seeing a reduction in size...

ha have fun!

_i've seen the infinite...its nothing special_

29-01-08, 10:58 AM
My extra fat QH has been put in a smaller paddock which has less grass. He is getting lunged and/or ridden every day.

He does a bit of lunging on soft ground (as he is recovering from an abcess from a few weeks back and is a bit sore on hard ground still).

He is getting ridden (in walk only across the paddocks - until the foot is 100% healed).

Have been doing this for about a week and he is a lot less cresty and I can get the girth up one more hole already.

Little exercise and often has worked for me, plus reduction of food. I have not starved him at all.

Hope this helps you! Good luck!


Elwood stinie
29-01-08, 11:04 AM
just buy or borrow a longer girth!
Muzzles can be good and definetly lock him up at night, that is when they graze the most! Obviously he needs to eat less but dont cut him back too fast.
Feed him straw, horses are designed to spend 18 out of 24 hours eating so starving horses is asking for trouble, get some nice soft Barley straw and pour molasses over it if he is picky. I know heaps of people feeding straw at the moment for either fat shetlands or due to lack of hay.
Good luck! Hope that helps!
Both my girls are overweight at the moment, pretty embaressing considering the drought we are having in the Wimmera!

29-01-08, 12:00 PM
Is a saddle really necessary to ride him? Just get on him and ride like you want to and go around bareback or with a saddle blanket and an elastic surcingle if it makes you feel more secure. You'll be riding, horse getting exercise. Problem solved.

29-01-08, 12:24 PM
Hi guys,

I was always told to lock up during the day and let them out at night as this is when they graze less. We currently have 4 horses locked up on dirt with 2 biscuits of hay morning and night. TB also get chaff as they are locked up for different reasons. If the girth doesn't fit and you don't want to lunge - take the horse for a walk on the lead. Something is better than nothing! Or bareback riding! In the meantime - goodluck.

Elwood stinie
29-01-08, 01:10 PM
Hmm thats odd.
Last year at a nutrition lecture with a Hygain guy we were told that horses graze more at night, during the day they will spend more time dozing as historically they have less threat from preditors.
And I have definetly noticed that paddocks that are empty at night will maintain alot more pasture, but that could be the same if they were empty during the day...
All I could really find on the internet was that horses graze more at night in summer.

29-01-08, 01:19 PM
please don't leave him for more than a few hours without access to roughage, as some previous posters have alluded to, the stomach acids in their stomach need something to digest or else they'll digest the stomach lining.....stomach ulcers!

29-01-08, 01:48 PM
I am grateful for all of these posts & am learning a lot (as usual)...the seemingly cruel aspect of it appalls me : to lock up something you care for so much without access to some feed is a NO NO to me. Even lunging seems tad cruel to me when done with a well trained performance horse, educated to use it's brain, but I wont go into the pros & cons of the lunge here.

With the season we are enjoying I for one need educating & that's why I initiated this thread. Part of my problem is me - living in Eastern Suburbs - & horses out as far west as one can go & still call Sydney. Each of them is locked up tonight but I fed them luc hay lightly about 4 pm & returned home. I will go out first light & let them out. Then will try on an agenda of going out every other evening, lunging or whatever, then camp overnite, repeat & return. It was in the heat of the day when I attempted to do something today....& we all ended up under the hose & enjoying it!

I have doubts about the muzzle as already have problem with 3 of them keeping a fly masks on...within half a day it is off & I have to go searching for it. Again not easy with the extra long grass.They just seem to hate the things! I have learnt to head for their favourite tree that they use to undo it - beats me.

The last post struck a cord with me. Years ago (& I can go back many) it was always said by our old timers to always let them loose at night as best time for grazing naturally to produce a happy healthy horse.Was evn said that the night grass was better. Hence we had to learn to hobble & use bells on the far outback stations where I came from - the old drovers lived by this theory. Interestingly in more recent years it became a topic of conversation around the camp fire on the High Country rides, the Snowy rides & Vic High Country & the New England of NSW where I was 18 months ago. Old timers poo-pooed the modern energisers & hot wire for night yards, saying it was the worse thing you could do to a horse after a long day's ride. I am thinking now maybe the same principle applies to the well trained performance/pleasure horse.....let it do what nature wants of it nocturnally, roam & graze. If only they could talk!

Thanks everyone.

29-01-08, 03:05 PM
Hi Billybingbone

Missed the last few posts as had to get kids from work. The other reason I was always told it was better to lock up during the day was because the heat of the day changes the starch and sugar content in the grass (only what I'm told - don't know for sure!)But maybe this is what the oldtimers mean by the night grass was better. I have to admit it is the oldtimers that have always advised that it was better to graze at night. If any vets or nutritionists are reading, maybe they can enlighten us. It would be good to know.

29-01-08, 10:59 PM
Lots of info on the content of forage/grass at http://www.safergrass.org/
Generally speaking, grass will have a higher sugar content late evening/night. Night grazing would obviously suit a hard working horse who needs maximum energy but is not so good for the fat horse.

30-01-08, 04:24 AM
I know you might feel lunging is not kind - but I guess I wasn't thinking about putting a roller and side reins on. If you have a round yard you can lunge them at liberty, or just use a halter and rope. After all, you're doing this to burn calories, not to built an outline.

I can also understand a station horse needing to graze at night - and to move around - if a horse is worked all day and then locked up they'd be muscle sore the next day and possibly swollen in the fetlocks. But is this the case with your horses?

Most of our horses are worked for an hour out of 24..... they might get a sweat up, but they've then got 23 hours to get over it :) In the heat, work them early mornings or after 6 p.m. when it's cooler, then hose them off, and they'll be right as rain. In terms of locking up - my horse has a 50 sq metre yard that he goes into at night, so he's got plenty of room to mooch around, and he's never pulled up sore on me the next day.

Lastly, in your particular case, you want your horses to lose weight, so worrying about the night grazing sugar contents is probably not an issue.... they'd be better off grazing in the day ;)


Horse sense - something that horses have that stops them betting on humans.

30-01-08, 04:55 AM
I have a horse that puts on weight from looking at the grass.

It is very important not to do a "crash" diet because that can kill a horse. It washes the fat into the blood which easily results in a failure of liver etc. Do not cut on the amount of feed but on what you feed.

I keep my horse slim by
1. feed founderguard during spring/summer.
If you do not want to bring it in at night this is one of the only things you can do besides riding it a lot.
2. bringing the horse in at night (or paddock with no lush grass) and feeding meadow hay at night.
3. Only feed lucerne hay in winter and always have lucerne and oaten/meadow/barley as one feed (either mornings or evenings)
4. Use hardfeed more than 500gr/day only when you work the horse
5. Also check on chaff: lucerne chaff is too rich. Better go for the two mix of lucerne and oaten- or the tripple mix.
6. If your horse eats it barley hay is less fattening then oaten- but the best one I found is meadow hay. it gives them the needed fibre without too much goodies.

Try to ride your horse as much as possible. But always warm up in walk for at least 10min. Especially for "fat" ones.

Hope it helps

30-01-08, 05:11 AM
I feel your pain!

Couple of weeks ago I took my very chubby QH to the vets for his post EI exam. I had an absolute fab vet there giving me all kinds of tips on all kinds of things.

We have paddock shelters but no stable so cannot effectively 'lock him up' at night. We also have an insane amount of grass about. Most of it is too long to mow with my 20hp ride on, plus I am wanting it to seed.

What vet suggested was this:
Problem isnt your horse eating food. Problem is food is of such high quality on ground at moment. Rather than not hand feed, idea is to hand feed a LOT of food of lesser quality. Suggested to me was a large amount of Wheaten Chaff with maybe one or two handfuls of pellets to make it palatable. Alternatively half cup molasses or salt - whatever horsey prefers. If he wont eat it and prefer pasture, tie him up till he finishes. Do this twice a day. Fill his gut with this and he should graze less. Obviously a fitness regime helps.
My horse is coming back into work after his big holiday. So very fat and very unfit. Vet suggested 5 minute walking and 10 minute trotting x 3 on the flat (less on hills). Do this for say 4 to 6 weeks post EI before increasing the workload and adding canter etc. This is the suggestion for post EI ponies like mine - and he had a few lung issues as well overcoming the EI.


30-01-08, 05:13 AM
Extremely fat horses who are locked up with nothing but fresh air and water have a high chance of dying of hyperlipaemia, where the fat stores of the body are - simply described - "dissolved" into the blood stream.

In addition, horses evolved to graze, browse, or search for food, for anything between 14 - 18 hours out of every 24.

Managing over-fat horses and ponies was a constant theme of my life in the UK; I would hand them over slim and healthy only to get them handed back to me the following year in the same obese condition. Still, it gave me free keep for my own horses, so I'm not complaining!

I have dealt with such greedy horses and ponies, who had been turned out on such good grazing that even wearing a grazing muzzle AND with forage in a double net inside a rack, they only lost weight slowly - and these were NOT horses with any metabolic problems such as IR.

An obese horse needs to be provided with about 1.5% by weight, of the body weight at which he would be healthy, of medium--to-low quality forage (threshed or combined straw rather than hay, for instance, or mixed straw and grassy hay) and forced to eat it slowly - by means of a muzzle or very fine-meshed hay net or rack. The more he has to move about to eat this forage, the better. A bare yard or even better, a raceway around a large paddock, with small drops of forage every 100 meters, would be the sort of thing you need. But let him move at his own speed until his bulk is reduced somewhat - carrying so much extra weight is a strain on his body, just as overweight people have more problems with their joints and muscles and bones when exercise is forced upon them.

So - he needs strictly-controlled (weigh it!) amounts of low-quality (low as far as kJ, starches and sugars, but not in quality as in dustiness, palatability etc), high-bulk forage. He will also need some form of vitamin, mineral and maybe protein supplement. Once you see (by means of a weight tape or weigh bridge) the weight starting to come off him, use a good grazing muzzle and start letting him have short periods of grazing, preferably on short grass and/or with a bunch of very active horses. Cut the weight of the forage he is being fed according to how long he is allowed to graze with his muzzle. You will be surprised how quickly they learn to eat through a grazing muzzle.

Good luck!

02-02-08, 06:34 AM
I don't know what a THS is, but...

I'd buy a longer girth and take him for a ride on a daily basis, trying to avoid the whole locking up idea altogether.

I don't believe this has to involve hard or fast work, in fact, I think it should be slow work. Lots of walking, some trotting, some cantering perhaps. Be guided to how your fellow behaves.

And I think that it should be done in the coolest part of the day that you can manage. He'll be more willing and able, and so will you.

And for his troubles, all he needs is a carrot or two. Half a carrot when you catch him (and half for his friend if he has a friend nearby) a piece or two when you dismount, and a piece or two when you put him back in his paddock. My horse and I are highly motivated by food and will do almost anything for a tasty morsel. In fact, that's one of the reasons I love penciling (writing). They feed me lunch. YUM. And of course I can ask the judge any question I like (at the right time of course) and I am always treated with respect, no matter how half-witted my questions.

I agree with the old timers who always allowed their horses freedom at night. Natural exersise and grazing - you can't beat it. And yes, I definately believe they eat more and move around more at night. This isn't a reason to lock them up at night, IMO. It's reason not to lock them up at night.

Oh, and I agree with you about not wanting to lunge your horse. He's too fat. I just don't believe it would be the right thing to do in this situation.

02-02-08, 08:56 AM
Thanks Taff.
THS = Travelling Horse Statement. I now have & carry two - 1 to ride out & down to the local park. 2nd to go in the horse float, this one bearing the float Rego number & only good for 7 days. The pleasure riding one valid for 14 days.

Red tape but hopefully not for much longer - but they are easy to get online so no drama with DPI.