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Fat horses becoming serious welfare issue warns The Blue Cross

Leading animal welfare charity The Blue Cross is warning horse owners of the fatal dangers of fat horses. Last year alone a phenomenal 45 per-cent of the charity’s total intake of horses and ponies were classified as seriously overweight and subsequently four of this number had to be destroyed due to weight-related illnesses including laminitis.
Currently The Blue Cross has 52 horses and ponies undergoing rehabilitation at its specialist equine centre at Burford, Oxfordshire. More than half of these are on a regime of restricted management because of weight problems.

Bally, a 15-year-old, 12hh, native pony was a perfect child’s pony with a long future ahead of her. She became very overweight after a period of not being exercised and was eventually handed over to The Blue Cross suffering from a severe case of laminitis – a painful hoof condition often associated with obesity. Although everything possible was done to bring Bally back to full health and fitness the severity of her condition and her lack of quality of life dictated that euthanasia was the kindest option.

Amanda Richings, Equine Centre Manager at The Blue Cross explains: “There is a growing welfare issue, not so much with underweight horses and ponies but with those not managed correctly in accordance with their breed, age, size and workload. The result is an overweight animal, which is incapable of any ridden work and ends up being handed over to charities such as The Blue Cross for rehabilitation. Many such horses and ponies prove very difficult to re-home as they require very careful future management to ensure that weight-gain and its associated problems don’t recur.”

Robert Webb-Bowen, Director of Equine Welfare at The Blue Cross continues: “We are in full support of laminitis specialist Robert Eustace’s recent attack on the showing world and the growing fashion for overfed horses. We believe that this is having a severely detrimental knock on effect throughout the equestrian world. Many owners seem not to understand the difference between fit and fat and incorrectly believe that healthy horses should carry plenty of weight as these are the types they see winning showing classes.”

If you would like any guidance on how to keep your horse or pony fit and not fat please telephone The Blue Cross Equine Welfare Centre on 01993 822454.

The Blue Cross is Britain's pet charity, providing information, advice and practical support for pet and horse owners. Through its network of animal adoption centres it rehomes thousands of animals each year. Its hospitals provide veterinary care for the pets of people who cannot afford private vets' fees.


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