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Re: Fat Horses

Susan Garlinghouse
Don't buy into the old beliefs that endurance horses should be "lean n' mean".  That works for racehorses to some extent, not for distance horses.  The research collected at Tevis indicated that thin horses had a much higher incidence of metabolic disease, ie colic, thumps, tying up, etc, while horses with a reasonable amount of flesh had a much higher completion rate.  On the other hand, horses with too much fat will have trouble dissipating heat through that insulating layer.  My suggestion would be do what you need to maintain a "moderate" body condition---ribs easily felt but not easily seen, no jutting hips or pinbones, no "ridges" over the topline.  A nice, smooth outline without being either boney or puddin'.  If you ride your horse among non-endurance folk and have to apologize for his appearance, he's probably too thin.

Between your two scenarios, if your stallion tends to lose and not regain weight during a season, then my preference would be to start just a tad heavy, ride conservatively and bear in mind that you may have to work harder to cool him off and keep him hydrated.  Choose your rides with that in mind as well---maybe better to head north than out to the desert rides if the weather is going to be warm and he still has a winter hair coat.  If you think you can maintain him at ideal weight throughout the season, great.  You know your horse best.  You might look into your feed program to see if some adjustments ( a more digestible forage source, increasing energy density?) might help him maintain weight better throughout the season.

Hope this helps.  Good luck.

Susan Garlinghouse, MS Eq Nutr.
Colorado State University

>What is the general opinion on the amount off weight a horse shoould carry
at the start of a season?
I am currently feeding my stallion enough to keep him in fairly round
condition as we are starting out, some people feel I am feeding him too much
as he needs to be leaner! But he will loose as we get further into the
season and once he starts loosing during the season I will not get the
weight on again (or as easily as know!) So is it better too start with a
fattish horse and work them into condition or to start with a horse carrying
ideal weight and just struggle/feed like hell through the season to keep
them there?

Mawlud (retired from competition for two years)
Shadixx (first season)
Snowy (Mawluds replacement, overweight, but hey we can roll on the hilliar
courses and so save energy!!)

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