THE INITIATIVE is supported by Redwings Horse Sanctuary who hope it will help people recognise that an overweight horse can be as much of a welfare risk as an underweight one.

Obesity is a major welfare issue for horses and ponies, not only because of the direct weight-associated effects, but also due to the increased risk it poses for certain clinical conditions, in particular, laminitis. Other health and welfare implications include increased joint strain, respiratory stress, heat intolerance, an increase in chronic low-grade inflammation in senior horses and reduced fertility.

Weight loss tips

The Spillers Slimmers’ Club provides horse owners with invaluable information and advice including weight-loss tips, details of how to calculate a body condition score and use a weigh tape, diet plans and weight-loss records. Club members will also receive access to a dedicated Facebook group where they can share their horse’s progress and tips with other owners, as well as post questions for nutritionists to answer.

“Some horse and ponies simply appear to get fat on thin air,” said Clare Barfoot RNutr. “Reduced exercise and less rigorous management regimes due to Covid-19 restrictions haven’t helped and we are perhaps becoming guilty of normalising overweight horses. We all need to work together to tackle the problem, for the future health and welfare of our horses and we hope our Spillers Slimmers’ Club will help achieve exactly that.”

Spillers’ commitment to enhancing equine health and wellbeing is reflected in the feed brand’s extensive research work in the areas of obesity, laminitis and weight management. With involvement in over 100 research papers to date, this places them in a unique position to provide the latest advice and support to help address the issue of equine obesity.

Raise awareness

Redwings will be sharing literature with all those who join the dedicated Redwings Spillers Slimmers’ Facebook group. Nicola Knight, Head of Communications and Campaigns at Redwings Horse Sanctuary, said: “For almost 20 years we have worked closely with Spillers to help raise awareness and support horse owners on a range of health and wellbeing issues.The Spillers Slimmers campaign is just as close to our hearts as we see more and more equines arrive at the sanctuary requiring veterinary attention for conditions that could have been prevented with proper weight management.”