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Horse too fat? Let it lose weight healthily with Subli Diet Mix

November 15, 2022

Horses and ponies easily accumulate more fat on the ribs than is good for them. Especially austere breeds such as Fjords, Haflingers, Tinkers, Friesians, Shetlanders and Icelanders can function just fine with fairly little feed. Traditionally, the metabolism of austere breeds works very efficiently and uses nutrients sparingly.

Obesity in horses and ponies: how does it happen and what do you do about it?

You may think that excess weight in horses occurs mostly in the summer months. But make no mistake. Many horses and ponies today also get or stay fat in the winter, and this is true of all breeds.

Do you sometimes give an extra scoop of concentrate as a reward after riding? Often it happens unconsciously, but some horses and ponies ingest much more concentrate than necessary. Add to that high-energy roughage and sometimes a little lack of exercise. Add in the morsels of stable litter and the result is clear: your horse is getting too fat.

Dangers of obesity and overweight

A "well-fed" horse looks strong and healthy in the eyes of many people. Yet there are far more health risks in being overweight than you might think. Overweight horses and ponies are significantly more likely to develop:

  1. Osteoarthritis: this is where a severe inflammatory reaction occurs in your horse's hooves. The inflammation leads to a lot of pain and, in severe cases, even a tilt of the hoof bone in the hoof. Chances are that your horse will never be able to stand or walk again without severe pain. Putting it to sleep is often the only way out.
  2. Equine Metabolic Syndrome (EMS): this is a disturbance of metabolism that you see reflected in a variety of symptoms such as energy loss, rapid overheating, reduced fertility, fatty tumors in the abdomen, colic, diabetes, hard fat deposits and laminitis.
  3. Insulin resistance: this is an incipient form of diabetes that severely affects your horse's metabolism. Your horse absorbs sugars from the blood with increasing difficulty, which in the short term means severe energy loss. But in the slightly longer term, as a result of insulin resistance in horses, laminitis often develops again.
  4. Joint problems: problems in the joints are caused by local overloading due to the many extra pounds of body weight. In many cases, you see the problems come back as the condition osteoarthritis. This is excessive wear and tear of the joint cartilage. Which can be associated with bone overgrowth, pain, stiffness and joint inflammation.

How do I make my horse lose weight?

Want to prevent the unpleasant consequences of obesity in your horse and pony? Then review your animal's situation together with your veterinarian or a specialized nutritionist. Together with them, draw up a treatment plan to help your horse or pony lose weight in a responsible manner. The basis of such a plan generally consists first of all of dietary adjustments. In addition, some changes in the overall management of your horses contribute to healthy horse weight loss.

1. Adjust nutrition

Healthy weight loss is slow in horses. Keep in mind that up to 1% weight loss per week of desired body weight is already an excellent result. And that a well-thought-out nutritional ration prevents deficiencies of essential nutrients during weight loss.

Always start by checking (or having checked) the energy value of your forage, the staple of any horse's menu. Rich hay contains a lot of energy and makes frugal breeds fat quickly. On the other hand, it is best for the well-being and health of all breeds of horses that they receive at least 3 to 4 servings of roughage per 24-hour period. For fat horses and austere breeds, choose a type of forage that has a relatively low nutritional value. Coarse-stemmed hay cut late in the year generally satisfies this best.

Grass in the pasture is also regularly too rich a source of energy, especially in the spring and early summer. Therefore, put fat horses and austere breeds preferably in an almost bare pasture. You can also choose to fence off pieces of pasture, adding a small piece of pasture to your animals every day. Another option is to omit grazing altogether. The energy intake must be limited, and since you cannot control how much the grass intake is, the energy intake must be limited.

2. Stable and pasture management under the microscope.

Changing your feed management is one thing, but getting a fat horse to lose weight in a truly healthy way requires more. Also consider things like:

  • Daily extra exercise: think about herding loose, riding, ground work, lunging, walking or jogging and some extra time in a horse walker. Or organize a long outside ride every week with a few stablemates. Always consider your horse's condition when doing so.
  • Appropriate bedding in the barn: Avoid straw as bedding. Straw gives your horse almost no extra energy. This can cause it to eat more straw and develop constipation colic. Therefore, use a different bedding such as sawdust or flax.
  • Prevent boredom: In nature, horses spend nearly three-quarters of their time grazing. A horse in a stable or bare pasture has fairly little to do by comparison, and boredom and the development of stable vices are lurking. Make sure your horse or pony has at least a few hours of something to do each day in the form of exercise, attention and being physically with peers.
  • In addition, the recommendation is to provide unlimited roughage. Is this not possible? Then make sure your horse or pony can take in roughage every 4 hours. Providing feed more often in smaller portions, feeding roughage in special slow feeders, fine mesh hay nets or in special feed toys will also keep your horse occupied longer.

The power of Subli Diet Mix

For expert advice on nutritional values of equine diet foods, Subli is the right place. Years of horse experience and listening to your own practical story provides you with a wealth of information through Subli. Use this well and add it to the treatment plan for a fat horse together with your veterinarian.

The Subli Diet Mix for example, is a concentrated feed specially formulated for austere breeds and obese horses. The special feature of this feed is:

  • No grains and grain by-products
  • Complete daily allowance of vitamins, minerals and trace elements
  • Very low sugar, starch and energy content
  • Prevents muscle breakdown when combined with labor
  • High crude fiber content

By giving Subli Diet Mix, you ensure that your horse gets little fattening energy from the concentrate feed. This is because it contains no grains, grain by-products and molasses. However, the feed is rich in fiber and contains all the essential vitamins, minerals and trace elements for daily light work.

Subli Diet Mix

Feed advice from Subli

Coming up with a good and feasible treatment plan for a fat horse is sometimes quite difficult. The experience experts at Subli know this better than anyone else. That is why they are happy to assist you with advice and tips for daily practice. Tell us what is bothering you or what you encounter on a daily basis with your stable or feed management. We can even advise you on manure. Our experts are happy to think along with you in a practical way to find answers to all your equine questions.

Would you also like personalized advice on weight management for your horses and ponies? Then contact Subli's customer service team at our phone number 0317-499 595. Would you rather email? Then send your questions to or fill out the contact form in on the website.