Managing your Pony's Weight
How to make your "Fat Boy Slim"
By Katie Williams M.Sc. (Dist) B.Sc. (Hons) Cuddly ponies are great for hugs but there is a downside to them being over weight. Lugging extra weight around places more strain on their limbs which can cause problems later in life as their joints wear out and it also increases their risk of getting laminitis. If your pony only has to look at grass to put on weight it can be tricky keeping him trim. The following tips should help you to keep your pony healthy:
Top Tips for Dieting Ponies
- To reduce the risk of colic feed small amounts of forage at frequent intervals to keep the period of time the gut is empty as short as possible – if you're at school why not try asking someone to put a haynet in at lunchtime for you?
- Use electric fencing to restrict the area of grass your pony has access to
- Try a grazing muzzle which allows your pony to eat some grass but restricts their overall intake
- If hay provides too many calories try Dengie Hi-Fi Good-Doer which is lower in calories. Use a Dengie measuring bucket to ensure you're feeding enough. Measuring Buckets are available FREE (only P&P is charged) from the on-line shop by clicking here
- As grass is normally a really good source of vitamins and minerals, limiting a pony's access to grass may mean they're not getting sufficient of these nutrients. A supplement such as Dengie Natural Vitality Leisure Vits & Mins is an ideal way of topping up on vitamins and minerals.
- Make sure your pony gets plenty of exercise – try lungeing if time is limited.
If your pony is at the other end of the scale and struggles to hold weight then the first thing to do is to try and work out why, otherwise, you will be treating the symptoms rather than the cause and may never get the results you want. There are many possible reasons why a pony loses weight which vary from receiving too little feed which can be easily sorted out to more serious health problems such as liver disease. The following tips should help to get your pony looking his best.
Top Tips for Putting Condition on Ponies Safely
- The first step is always to make sure that you are feeding your pony the right amount and the right type of feed – if you're not sure how to do this call the Dengie Feedline for help on 0845 345 5115.
- Make sure your pony can eat the food you're giving him by getting your vet or horse dentist to check his teeth – this is really important for older ponies as their teeth can wear out, become loose and even fall out!
- Feed ad lib forage – this means whenever you visit your pony there is hay or haylage available for him/her to eat.
- Use a digestive enhancer to help maximise the amount of nutrients your pony gets out of the feed – Dengie Natural Vitality Digestive Health or Natural Vitality Digestive Health Plus are ideal.
- Try using conditioning feeds that combine fibre and oil such as Dengie Alfa-A Oil – these are non-heating energy sources so shouldn't make your pony fizzy and unlike cereals, they don't increase the risk of laminitis.