Top 5 Tips For Weight Loss With Gut Health In Mind

The top tips for achieving weight loss in easy keepers:

1. Restrict access to good quality pasture or hay and gradually replace with lower quality forages. For example:

  • Restrict pasture access by limiting grazing time - Keep in mind this may not be sufficient as some horses (mainly ponies) will just increase their rate of pasture intake when given access to pasture for a shorter period.
    Feed lower quality forage when not allowed out to graze so they always have access to forage to chew.

  • Use a grazing muzzle - these can restrict pasture intake by as much as 80%. Plus they allow your horse to continue social interaction with paddock mates and have invaluable free exercise.
  • If lower quality hay is hard to find, try substituting up to 50% of a good quality pasture or hay with straw to lower the energy density of forage within a diet. As with any dietary change, this should be done gradually over 10-14 days to prevent the risk of colic. And you MUST make sure straw is fed within a properly balanced diet!

2. Reduce or remove additional energy sources from diet  ie. complete feed, high fat products, additional grains, highly digestible fibre eg. beet pulp etc.

3. If weight loss isn’t happening, eliminate pasture access and gradually restrict the amount of low quality hay provided.

Start by feeding 2% of current body weight for the first week,1.75% of current body weight for the second week and 1.5% current body weight thereafter until desired weight loss is achieved.

Hay should be divided into 3-4 feedings per day and use of slow feeders is strongly recommended to eliminate long periods of time without hay.


4. Introduce or increase exercise regime. At least 30 minutes of trotting 5 days per week is a reasonable aim. Note: this is only recommended if your horse does not have existing injuries or is suffering from active laminitis. Exercise should also help to maintain or improve insulin sensitivity.

5. Use a small quantity of lucerne chaff and add Digestive VM to meet protein, mineral and vitamin requirements.



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