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The dangers of an overweight horse and a slimming plan to get equines into shape *H&H Plus*

An overweight horse is a ticking time bomb for serious health issues. Kieran O’Brien MRCVS outlines a nine-point slimming plan

The UK equine population is in the grip of an obesity epidemic. Close to half of adult horses and ponies are overweight, studies have found, rising to nearly 70% of leisure animals.

Obesity, a preventable condition, is a key predisposing factor in most cases of laminitis – a disease that accounts for 25% of animals euthanased for health reasons every year. It contributes to other diseases, including soft tissue injuries, osteoarthritis, and colic, and has been associated with equine asthma.

Since obese horses (largely in the showing world) are the role models, it is not surprising that 50% of owners in a recent survey did not consider their obese horses to be overweight.