Managing a horse prone to obesity isn’t just about restricting the amount of food available; careful planning must go into what food is given to ensure the equine is getting all the necessary vitamins and minerals.
A 14.1hh bay mare named Mrs Potts is the embodiment of that message. She came into the care of World Horse Welfare in 2015 as a six-year-old, following a request to help another charity with a group of horses kept on wasteland in Bedfordshire. There were several horses in poor condition, of which one – Mrs Potts – was very lame, underweight and heavily pregnant. She was also unhandled and had possibly previously suffered from laminitis.
Mrs Potts gave birth to a healthy filly foal at Hall Farm Rescue and Rehoming Centre in Norfolk just one month later and both she and the foal thrived in the care given at the centre.
But since recovering, it soon became clear that she was rather prone to weight gain and keeping her at a healthy weight was a challenge. She has been rehomed to several homes and has been backed to ride, but her previous history means that she can only undertake gentle hacking. Controlling her diet is a large part of the day-to-day management of this laid-back mare.
Mrs Potts is back at Hall Farm and is very popular with the public, meeting visitors, being groomed and showing her wonderful temperament.
Hall Farm Centre Manager Sue Hodgkins said the charity was seeing increasing numbers of overweight horses.
“Managing a horse prone to weight gain is not simply restricting the amount of food available. Careful planning must go into what food is given, whilst ensuring that all the vitamins and minerals necessary,” Hodgkins said.
British feed company Baileys Horse Feeds has stepped in to help Mrs Potts retain a healthy balance. Baileys’ Business Development Manager Graham Rice said the company was proud to support World Horse Welfare in rehabilitating horses, whether over or underweight.
“Many people are surprised to learn that overweight horses benefit from carefully prepared balancers to ensure they get all the dietary support they need, whilst keeping the calories down,” Rice said.