Owners could be struggling to see when a horse is overweight, a study has found.

A recent survey indictaed that 89% of owners that took part could not spot all the overweight equines in 12 pictures.

The survey was circulated through UK-based equine forums.

A total of 546 people responded — 98% were women. The ratio of amateurs to professionals who replied was 81% to 19%.

Popular articles

Just 11% correctly identified all the overweight animals from the photos.

“We know that for owners to instigate a weight loss regime, they have to be able to recognise whether their horse is overweight,” said study author Philippa Morrison, a PhD student at the University of Liverpool.

Whether a rider was professional or not did not affect their ability to see which animals were overweight.

The study also found that people thought the cobs pictured were overweight, even if they were not.

The participants were asked to rate how suitable each animal was for taking part in various equestrian sports.

Most said that the overweight equines would be best suited to showing.

“We knew anecdotally that the showing sector is where there is quite a big problem with weight,” Miss Morrison added.

She added that the results of the study could help feed companies target nutritional advice for horse owners.

The findings were presented at an animal obesity conference in Sweden in June and published in the Acta Veterinaria Scandinavica journal on 25 September.

H&H vet Karen Coumbe said: “It is an interesting piece of research and anything that raises awareness about obesity has to be good, although it can be hard to be sure from photos. It is much more obvious when the horse is standing there in front of you and you can feel for fat.”

Ref: H&H 29 October, 2015