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Ask H&H: feeding a laminitic horse

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Q: I need to get some more weight on my horse, but she is laminitic. How can I improve her condition, without increasing her risk of laminitis and without her becoming over the top?

As your horse is underweight, we need to look at increasing her energy (calorie) intake to encourage a better body condition. However, as she is prone to laminitis, we also need to take this into consideration when choosing a feed.

While your horse is underweight I would recommend using High Fibre Nuts from the Dodson & Horrell range. These contain good levels of digestible fibre and are low in starch, so are suitable for a horse or pony that is prone to laminitis and should not encourage excitable behaviour.

In addition to High Fibre Nuts there are several other products that you can add to your horse’s feed that will provide her with additional calories and help her to maintain an appropriate body condition. These include:

  • Alfalfa Chaff: a good source of additional calories and fibre
  • Kwik Beet: also a good source of both calories and fibre
  • Soya Oil: a good source of additional calories in a slow release format

    Alongside concentrate feed, it is also important to ensure that your horse is getting an adequate amount of fibre in her diet, as this is essential for the health of her digestive system and a lack of it can affect both body condition and energy levels.

    Until she puts on weight I would recommend that you provide hay on an adlib basis, so that she has got as much as she wants and is never stood for long periods without any.

    Ideally, you should aim for your horse to have a condition score of 2.5-3 out of 5 and you should be able to feel her ribs easily when you run your hands across her side, without actually being able to see them.

    I would recommend using a weight tape on a fortnightly basis, as this will allow you to monitor her condition and adjust her feed accordingly.

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