I shared it with some horse friends who thankfully agreed. I called Dr. Rebecca Gimenez, president of Technical Large Animal Emergency Rescue. Gimenez lectures internationally on horse emergencies and disasters and has seen her share of skinny (ie, neglected and starving horses).
Funny enough, she saw the catalog cover and had the same reaction. More and more, she said she sees obese horses where she goes. The problem is local (Gimenez lives in Georgia), national, and sometimes in Europe, too.
“Just today, I went to visit a horse that was reported as supposedly 1 or 2 on the Henneke Body Condition Score. I went to check it out. The horse was maybe a 4. It was fine. But on the way home, I saw these horses in a field. They were horrifically fat. 7, 8, 9 on the scale. Fatter is not better,” said Gimenez.
Just like dogs, cats, and humans, horses can be seriously harmed through overfeeding. And just like other animals, it can be a painful and expensive endeavor to maintain them and bring them back to a more appropriate weight.
Can we say, chronic laminitis, Cushings, diabetes, insulin resistance, kidney failure, founder, added stress on joints? Lots of discomfort for your horse and your wallet.
Gimenez said our society has become more and more accepting of heavy horses. It reminds her of the age of European Romanticism when obese humans and horses alike were painted admirably. Remember Napoleon on his handsome horse? Maybe he’s so stressed because he’s overweight and working hard.
“In society, we’ve always thought being a little plump is ok,” said Gimenez. “But we know that it’s unhealthy either way.”
As you contemplate fitness, remember to consider your horses’ condition as well as your own.
“It’s part of the responsibility to the horse: the trifecta of saddle fit, horse fitness, and rider fitness. Both under and on top of the saddle, fitness matters,” he said.
Check out Harmany Equine’s grazing muzzles.
Check out slow feeders from Hay Pillow.
Read about a miracle rescue: Honey goes from 1-2 to a healthy 4 on HBCS.