Expanding tummies and pent-up energy: The perils of lockdown for horses

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Keeping weight off horses is among the biggest worries for British horse owners during lockdown.
Keeping weight off horses is among the biggest worries for British horse owners during lockdown.

A Facebook survey of horse owners in Britain reveals a range of equine-related concerns arising from the Covid-19 lockdown.

Owners are concerned about expanding equine waistlines, the risk of laminitis, and possible over-exuberance from their mounts when they ride again.

Horse feed manufacturer Spillers ran the online survey in mid-April to find out more about the effects of the lockdown on horses’ routines.

In all, 54% of respondents said their biggest feed-related concern during this time was weight gain and 41% were worried about laminitis.

While 65% of respondents had not changed their management routine during lockdown, 12% said they were now turning their horses out 24/7 and another 9% had introduced strip grazing or a grazing muzzle to manage grass intake.

A quarter of those who had been previously riding had now stopped and, in answering the question about feed-related concerns, 21% of respondents were worried about fizzy or excitable behaviour, whether on the ground or when riding.

“We organised the survey to see where and how people might need support and guidance for their horses during this very difficult time,” said nutritionist Clare Barfoot, who is marketing, research and development director for Spillers.

“Obesity and laminitis are serious issues, especially now that the grass is growing in abundance and in particular 24/7 turnout coupled with reduced exercise can significantly increase the risks.

“Now that the British Equestrian Federation has revised its advice and more people are likely to start riding again, excitable horses and fizzy behaviour may also become a bigger concern.”

She says Spillers’ online collection of blogs, tips and advice will help owners minimise the risk of weight gain and reduce excitability in their horses.

The company has advice on condition scoring and dieting and obesity, feed and management tips.

To learn more about its care line, or virtual consultations, visit www.spillers-feeds.com.

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