Equine obesity is a growing problem and it’s going unrecognised

Horses are getting fatter, and the general public don’t realise what serious welfare concern it is, says leading equine charity World Horse Welfare.

Research unveiled at the charity’s annual conference today reveals that only 3.4 per cent of the British public believe equine obesity is a welfare issue.

And obesity is now such a problem that it is classed one of the biggest welfare issues among the UK equine population.

This as a double whammy — there is a growing problem of overweight horses and people are not recognising it,” said Roly Owers, chief executive of World Horse Welfare.

Following the launch of its “Right Weight” owner-education campaign in 2007, World Horse Welfare launched a nationwide welfare survey earlier this year to try to understand what people think is a threat to equine health (news, 16 April).

Of the 2,150 people who responded, some had a degree of equine knowledge, but even those didn’t think fat horses were a problem.

Although half of respondents with equine knowledge could spot a fat horse, they did not believe its weight had serious implications on welfare.

The first successful prosecution of an owner for allowing their horse to become obese took place last month.

World Horse Welfare video on obesity

Startling statistics
3.4%
of the general public believe being overweight is a welfare problem
76% of respondents with equine knowledge believe an underweight horse is a medium, high or severe welfare threat
46% of respondents with equine knowledge believe an overweight horse is a medium, high or severe welfare threat
50% of respondents believe that obesity in horses poses no welfare problem
20% of owners with horses at livery said their yards were able to implement strip grazing

•For more information about equine obesity and how to combat it, visit www.worldhorsewelfare.org

• To read more, see today’s issue of Horse & Hound, out now.

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