Equine weight watchers urged to turn “kilos into pounds”

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Spillers Slimmers' Club 100,000kg weight loss goal will raise funds for equine charity Redwings.
Spillers Slimmers’ Club 100,000kg weight loss goal will raise funds for equine charity Redwings. © Spillers

A British feed company has launched a campaign to help horse owners slim down their overweight equines while raising money for charity.

Spillers has pledged to convert equine weight loss kilos into cash and raise £5000 for equine charity Redwings through its Spillers Slimmers’ Club, with the aim of horses collectively losing 100,000kg.

As the weight loss accumulates it will be converted to a financial donation to support Redwings’ vital equine welfare work, which includes rescuing horses from the risks of obesity.

Being overweight can pose as much of a welfare risk as being underweight for horses, not only because of the direct weight-associated effects, but also because of the increased risks posed for certain clinical conditions, especially laminitis. Other health and welfare implications include increased joint strain, respiratory stress, heat intolerance, an increase in chronic low-grade inflammation in senior horses and reduced fertility.

The Spillers Slimmers’ Club was launched last summer to help address the problem of equine obesity in a positive way. The motivating and friendly club, which has 2500 members, provides practical support and camaraderie for owners of overweight horses and ponies, to aid them on their weight loss journey. It provides information and advice including weight loss tips, details on how to body condition score and use a weight tape, diet plans and weight loss records. Club members also receive access to a dedicated Facebook group where they can share their horse’s progress and tips with other owners, get inspired with success stories and post questions for Spillers nutritionists to answer.

Spillers Product Manager Sarah Nelson says the mission is threefold: “We want to use our knowledge and expertise to help owners of overweight horses and ponies achieve safe, sustainable weight loss, to raise funds to support our favourite charity Redwings and to continue to raise awareness of the need to end equine obesity for good.”

During the past two decades Spillers and the Waltham Equine Studies Group, together with their expert collaborators across the globe, have been helping to unravel the complex links between EMS, insulin dysregulation, obesity and laminitis. The formation of the Waltham International Laminitis Research Consortium in the early 2000s, followed by the formation of the Waltham International Obesity Consortium, has brought together prominent equine veterinary, nutrition and research experts interested in collaborating on these important topics.

Nicola Jarvis, Head of Veterinary Services at Redwings, said the charity was pleased to be working with Spillers on the important initiative.

“Fat has long been regarded as just an innocent way to store excess calories, but we now know fat produces chemicals that negatively affect our horse’s metabolism and health, as it does in humans.

“By helping our horses safely reach an ideal body condition score we decrease their risk of laminitis and the agony and suffering this condition brings. At Redwings we empathise with the challenges of managing weight, especially in our Cobs, Welsh Ponies and Shetlands, but getting an honest opinion as to whether your horse is overweight is essential. Don’t wait for laminitis to strike before seeking advice,” Jarvis said.

» Join the Spillers Slimmers’ Club

You can view the Redwings fundraising totaliser here

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