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Forage for Overweight Horses

Pony eating hay in a pasture

Horses need access to forage, preferably through free choice in order to keep their GI tract functioning well. However, for fat horses this can present a problem. So how do you feed a fat horse free choice hay without causing further weight gain?

Overweight horses can experience a number of health problems, including developing joint problems such as arthritis, respiratory problems including heaves, metabolic problems such as insulin resistance and laminitis, reproductive issues and pregnancy complications, decreased athletic performance, and finally, decreased lifespan.

Overweight horses should be fed hay that is low calorie but high in fiber. Grass hays cut earlier in the season often fit this need, although it's important to note that hay quality and calorie content can vary considerably depending on factors such as the time of year it was cut and the conditions it was grown in, so it's best to have the hay tested for calorie content and nutrient content by contacting your local extension office.

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