The UK’s horses are getting fatter and fatter says animal charity The Blue Cross, which has launched an anti-obesity campaign.

Forty per cent of horses taken in by the charity last year were deemed overweight, up by five per cent on the previous year.

The campaign, called Fat Horse Slim, aims to educate and explain how to keep your horse at a healthy weight.

Richard Stephenson, equine vet at Pool House Vet Group said Britain will soon be facing an epidemic.

“Next to colic, obesity kills more horses than any equine disease in the UK, yet it is one hundred per cent preventable,” he said.

The campaign is supported by event rider, William Fox-Pitt, who said: “This campaign tackles the serious problem associated with overweight horses and ponies by providing sensible, practical advice on how to keep them in optimum shape.”

Blue Cross equine welfare education officer, Rosie Mogford, highlighted part of the problem.

She said: “Our perceptions, as horseowners, have changed over the years and “well” or round looking horses are now more acceptable than they used to be.

“We hope to educate people about the healthy weight for their horses.”

A Fat Horse Slim pack is available for £8 at www.fathorseslim.org.uk. It contains a Blue Cross guide to weight monitoring and management, a Shires weigh tape, a calculator, body condition score guide, wall chart for recording weight changes over time, a £2-off voucher for Dengie low-energy products and a voucher for a free Dengie measuring bucket.