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Winter Weight-Watching

While some horses experience weight-loss during the winter, have you found that your horse is actually gaining weight over the same period or is still looking 'a bit too well'? If so, you might like to consider that any of the following reasons may be contributing to the problem:

" Reduced workloads
" More time spent indoors
" A natural tendency to gain weight
" Being a 'good-doer'
" The feed provided is over-compensating for the lack of grazing available

However, a healthy weight can be achieved and maintained during the winter period by providing your horse with restricted amounts of forage topped up with a low calorie high-fibre feed. This will supply all the essential nutrients your horse requires, but avoid the higher levels of energy (calories) found even in many 'low energy' mixes. A balanced low starch diet is also beneficial for most horses in the winter, and for stabled will help avoid some of the problems that can occur as a result of spending less time in the field .

In addition to the health benefits of keeping your horse closer to his optimum weight, excellent skin and coat condition can also be achieved from a low calorie feed. Look at the ingredients and choose a feed which provides essential Omega 3 and 6 oils (found in linseed and soya oil) such as Allen & Page's Slim & Healthy. This light, non-sticky mix looks and smells great, and includes real mint and Protexin to encourage a healthy digestive system. Added to all that, it's more appetising and cost-effective than the alternative of feeding chaff with a vitamin supplement.

Tina Wakelin, of Nottinghamshire, advised that since changing to Slim & Healthy her horse has 'an improved coat, and general condition, without getting fat'.

Alternatively, if your horse needs a little more from his feed but you still don't want to cause excitability, the next step up is a low energy mix such as Quiet Mix. This will provide sufficient calories throughout the winter without encouraging excitability.


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