Leading show rider’s horse rewarded for being in best shape

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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 awards.

Top showing producer Katie Jerram-Hunnable has received a coveted Healthiest Body Condition award that recognises and rewards show horses in the best condition.

Katie’s middleweight hunter, The Imperial Choice, was the recipient of the award made at Herts County Show. The 10-year-old gelding, aka Gus, finish second overall in his class, and followed it up with the championship title at the South of England Show, in Ardingly. He’ll be competing again at Hickstead this month.

Equine obesity is considered one of the highest-ranking equine health risks today. The Healthiest Body Condition awards in show horses are presented by The Horse Trust, in association with Liverpool University, at shows throughout Britain.

The coveted awards recognize and reward horses in the best condition as well as providing support and advice. The Royal Veterinary College supported the event at Herts County Show by carrying out the body condition scoring, helping to make it a ‘Weight-Aware’ event.

Katie, from Great Dunmow in Essex, attributes Gus’s excellent condition to a tried and tested regime of daily exercise and correct feeding, plus turnout and grazing. Katie monitors the grass available and accordingly adjusts all the horses’ feeds in line with the quality of forage that grows throughout the year. She also implements a good de-worming programme, but the overriding contributor to her horses’ wellbeing is her drive to build muscle-tone, rather than just putting on weight.

“We can’t feed to get fit but we can make sure the horse gets the correct nutrition and exercise,” she said.

Perceptions of what is a healthy weight have shifted toward the higher body condition scores, with overweight horses far outnumbering the underweight, said Jan Rogers from The Horse Trust. “We would like to help to reset this balance.  Far more horses are obese than are underweight, which is worrying for vets who are treating these horses with serious health diseases like Equine Metabolic Syndrome and Laminitis.”

Behaviour change scientist Dr Tamzin Furtado from Liverpool University developed the programme to reward healthy body condition in show horses in conjunction with The Horse Trust. The project is part of a national scheme to raise awareness of what a healthy equine body condition looks like and reward those who have achieved it. The initiative involves vets who attend shows up and down the country throughout the showing season, assessing horses in selected classes. Targeting both affiliated and unaffiliated shows, the scheme provides friendly, supportive guidance to help owners and producers recognize the benefits of maintaining a healthy body condition.

» To get involved in the programme, email info@horsetrust.org.uk or phone 01903 892060.

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