Embrace Winter Weight Loss

Article last updated: 13th December 2024

This summer the Dengie Nutrition Team have seen many horses that have gained weight year on year. This is an increasing trend and equine obesity has been receiving lots of attention. For the sake of our horse’s health and welfare it is important to keep an eye on their bodyweight and put a stop to the expanding waistline.

This guide will provide weight loss tips for horses and outline why winter is the perfect time to encourage weight loss for horses or ponies. We also emphasise why an effective exercise plan for horse weight loss is also important!

Weight Loss For Obese Horses

Being obese puts stresses and strains on the horse’s body – not least their joints which can affect long term soundness and the ability to exercise. Obesity has also been linked to an increased risk of laminitis, especially in those individuals with underlying insulin dysregulation.

Why You Should Embrace Weight Loss Tips For Horses In Winter

As winter progresses, grass is generally less energy dense as it is more mature. Colder weather slows grass growth and as it is continually grazed, there is less to eat. This, combined with your horse having to use more energy to keep warm in colder conditions, means that it should be an easier time of year for your horse to lose weight. Dengie nutritionist Tracey Hammond, M.Sc (Dist) explains weight loss tips for horses in winter which will help to manage the overweight horse. The key points include:

  • Weigh Your Horse – This will help keep track of weight loss
  • Weigh Your Feed – This will help control intake
  • Avoid ‘Extras’ – Stop feeding the extra calories your horse doesn’t need
  • Keep Them Busy – Incorporate an effective exercise plan for horse weight loss and keep them entertained to burn calories

Low Calorie Horse Feeds To Promote Winter Weight Loss In Your Horse

Regardless of the time of year, pasture lacks certain trace minerals including copper, zinc and selenium. These are all important minerals for your horse’s daily diet. Relying on conserved forage and less grazing during winter reduces vitamin E intake, too. Soaking forage could also mean that your horse is missing out on good quality protein. Effective and well-planned weight loss through feed management will ensure your horse is still receiving all the minerals and good quality feed they need to stay healthy.

One of the most important weight loss tips for horses is to avoid the extra calories found in bucket feed, without impacting the supply of good nutrition. A low calorie fibre feed, such as Hi Fi Lite, can be fed to help horses lose weight over winter whilst still promoting chew time.  An additional supplement or balancer will ensure you are supplying a balanced ration.

Low Calorie Feeds

Products From The Dengie Range From That Help With Weight Loss

Hi-Fi Molasses Free combines chopped, pelleted alfalfa and straw with a light rapeseed oil coating and the added herbs mint and fenugreek. It is ideal for fussy horses and ponies as the pellets and herbs add interest Hi-Fi Molasses Free supplies 8.5MJ/kg digestible energy and is suitable for horses and ponies in light work that need a low sugar and starch feeding regime at only 2.5% and 1.5% respectively.

Hi-Fi Lite contains chopped straw and alfalfa with a light molasses coating. At 7.5MJ/kg Hi-Fi Lite is a really low calorie fibre feed and is particularly useful for replacing some of the forage ration if only higher calorie forage like early cut hay or haylage is available. Hi-Fi Lite supplies only 7% sugar which is less than average hay at 10%. Can be used as a low calorie forage replacer.

Healthy Hooves Molasses Free is a low-calorie, nutritionally balanced complete fibre feed supplying essential vitamins and minerals, as long as the recommended levels are fed. Chopped and pelleted alfalfa is blended with straw with a light rapeseed oil coating and garlic.  Packed with B vitamins, including Biotin, which are essential for hoof health, Healthy Hooves Molasses Free contains no added sugar and is naturally low in starch making it ideal for those prone to laminitis. It must be fed at the recommended levels to ensure the diet is balanced – if you need to feed less, you can top up with a balancer or supplement.

Ulser Lite is a low calorie fibre feed with added herbs, yeast and prebiotics to promote digestive health. A soft, tasty blend of British grown, chopped, precision-dried grass and high-quality oat straw for maximum fibre content whilst being low in calories. Alfalfa pellets are included to provide a bio-available source of calcium. It has been formulated as a straight feed with no added vitamins and minerals to maximize its flexibility. This means that any amount can be fed according to the horse’s requirements alongside a source of vitamins and minerals such as a balancer or powdered vitamin and mineral supplement to provide a balanced diet. Can be used as a low calorie forage replacer.

Meadow Lite with Herbs is the newest product in the Dengie range and our lowest calorie feed in the range, providing just 5MJ/kg of digestible energy! It is also naturally low in starch (0.5%) and sugar (3%). Soft, tasty meadow grasses are blended with high-quality oat straw to offer a low-calorie feed which does not compromise on chew time. It contains pea hull fibre which is a great source of highly digestible fibre. A range of fibre types is beneficial for digestive health and helps to support a healthy microbiota. The inclusion of postbiotics also supports the gut microbiota for general health and wellbeing. Low in calories should not mean that horse owners have to compromise on taste and interest for their horse.  We have therefore enriched Meadow Lite with Herbs with cinnamon and thyme. Can be used as a low calorie forage replacer.

Schedule An Exercise Plan For Horse Weight Loss

If possible, it is important to also put together an exercise plan for your horse to promote weight loss. Increasing your horse’s exercise should be a gradual process to reduce the risk of injury and allow them to build up their stamina. First, it is important to establish that your horse is fit enough for the exercise that you plan to do and, second, to remember that being overweight puts extra strain on your horse, which makes exercise much harder work.

For more information, nutritional advice or further weight loss tops for horses, get in touch with the experts here at Dengie.