Growing concerns about equine obesity and associated health problems such as laminitis and joint strain dominated the latest free public lecture held by University Centre Reaseheath.
Entitled ‘Does your feed help the health and wellbeing of your equine?’ and presented by Caroline Dickens, Feed Advisor for Baileys Horse Feeds, this was the third in a series of science-based lectures covering topical issues and delivered by key specialists.
Caroline, who has over 20 years of experience in equine nutrition and advises our equine staff and undergraduates on module content, gave a very informative and relevant lecture to a packed audience of local horse owners and students.
Emphasising the importance of a balanced diet and particularly of quality fibre, Caroline’s message was that horses need to chew for 16 – 18 hours a day due to their anatomy and that denying them this natural behaviour led to excess acid in the stomach and accompanying physical and behavioural problems.
The key to good management was how to achieve a balance between concentrated feed and fibre which would result in a calm but energetic equine of the correct weight and with healthy skin, coat and hooves.
Caroline, who advises on the diet of all types of equines, from top competition horses to children’s ponies, emphasised how feeding correctly affected the working lives of all, no matter what career they were being aimed at. Equine obesity in particular was causing concern among vets and equine specialists and she herself was experiencing a considerable rise in the number of cases requiring specialised diets to deal with the results of overfeeding and over rugging.
Horse owners should not put off seeking expert advice if they had concerns about their horses’ condition, whether over or underweight, as the sooner the situation was rectified, the better it was for both horse and owner.