What affects can obesity have on the musculoskeletal system of the horse?
Skeletal muscle makes up 45% of our horses body weight; that is quite a hefty amount of weight and even more extraordinarily the small intestine accounts for 27.5% of the total GI tract weight (and that is ignoring the hindgut and the roughage our horses eat (up to 135 litres of liquid!) That’s a lot of weight to be suspended from the horses’ skeleton!!
Then we add tack…
And a rider…
And then we exert all kind of forces on to our horses body when we exercise them, when we delve deep in to the engineering of our horses anatomy, it is pretty cool how they are designed to shock absorb.
But still, they are not shatter-proof and equine obesity can either be a symptom of an underlying issue or it could one day be the cause.
If you are placing your horse on a strict diet, they are in regular exercise and your horse is not shifting the weight. I would highly advise ruling out metabolic issues by getting your vet to investigate.
In addition to metabolic diseases/syndromes, obesity can place additional strain on your horses’ muscles, joints and ligaments and can affect their ability to function. I would highly recommend seeking professional advice, I am always open to an informal chat if you need some guidance.
(please do not starve your horse – this will not work and is a welfare issue!)
Sorry had to stress that point…
There are so many management changes you can make for your horse that will make a considerable difference! (Some of them may be simpler than you think)