Weigh to go! Best equine body condition rewarded at British show

Share
Val Sheehan's heavyweight hunter Red Rumour was rewarded for Healthiest Body Condition at the recent Herts County Show.
Val Sheehan’s heavyweight hunter Red Rumour was rewarded for Healthiest Body Condition at the recent Herts County Show. © The Horse Trust

A programme promoting good body condition in show horses has rewarded three horses and riders competing in the showing classes at a recent show in Britain.

The Royal Veterinary College, on behalf of The Horse Trust, made awards at the weekend’s Herts County Show for the Healthiest Body Condition, with Sham Singh with “Colidearmad Larch” (lightweight hunter), Val Sheehan with “Red Rumour” (heavyweight hunter) and Zoe Nicholls with “Logan” (BSPA Open Ridden Qualifier) taking home a beautiful green and gold rosette.

For the “Weigh To Win” initiative this year, the Horse Trust is ramping up its show attendance to reward healthy body condition, at affiliated and unaffiliated shows. The programme will run at events throughout the showing season providing friendly, supportive advice and guidance to owners, riders and producers.

Vets work in conjunction with the judges to score the equines in the chosen classes.

A pilot programme ran before the Covid-19 disruptions in 2019 and was well received by competitors.

The British Equine Veterinary Association (BEVA) has described obesity in horses as a “ticking time bomb”, and one of the biggest threats to equine welfare

So the Horse Trust’s Programme is an important initiative to reward healthy equine body condition and raise awareness of healthy body condition in show horses. Showing in particular is often seen to promote horses who are overweight and it aims to challenge and educate on what is an ideal body condition.

Logan, ridden by Zoe Nicholls in the British Skewbald and Piebald Association (BSPA) Open Ridden Qualifier) was a Healthiest Body Condition winner at Herts County Show.
Logan, ridden by Zoe Nicholls in the British Skewbald and Piebald Association (BSPA) Open Ridden Qualifier, was a Healthiest Body Condition winner at Herts County Show. © The Horse Trust

Jan Rogers, The Horse Trust’s head of Research and Policy, said that while people get upset by seeing photos of underweight horses in the media, far more horses are obese than underweight.

“This is worrying for vets who are finding that they have to treat these horses with serious health conditions like Equine Metabolic Syndrome and Laminitis. Peoples’ perceptions of what is a healthy weight have shifted towards the higher body condition scores. We would like to help to reset this balance.”

Behavioural change scientist Dr Tamzin Furtado, from Liverpool University, has joined forces with the Horse Trust to spread the word on how best to go about maintaining the healthiest weight.

“Horses who are overweight or cresty are often celebrated for their condition – and we want to slightly challenge that, by celebrating horses in ideal body condition,” Furtado said.

Fellow Liverpool University graduate and vet, Ben Curnow, MRCVS, judged body condition as part of the 2019 pilot programme. He said: “It’s not about being critical of, or challenging the judges, just showcasing what ideal body condition looks like.”

Liverpool University behaviour change scientist Dr Tamzin Furtado with some of the "ideal weight" awards.
Liverpool University behaviour change scientist Dr Tamzin Furtado with some of the “ideal weight” awards.

David Ingle, former Chairman of the Showing Council and Director of Showing at the Royal International Horse Show, Hickstead, said the discipline was keen to become more educational.

“We are in an era of great improvement in equine welfare, with increasing scrutiny under social license. This initiative will help to shine a light on this important aspect of showing.”

Sham Singh's lightweight hunter Colidearmad Larch was a Healthiest Body Condition winner at Herts County Show.
Sham Singh’s lightweight hunter Colidearmad Larch was a Healthiest Body Condition winner at Herts County Show. © The Horse Trust

Horsetalk.co.nz

Latest research and information from the horse world.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.