As we saw a few days ago with the Obese Gypsy Cob, some folks seem to be having a lot of trouble figuring out how and what to feed their horses, and what "normal" is. While a trained eye should be able to evaluate conformation regardless of condition, it is every bit as important for a horse to be at a healthy weight as a human. Today, let's look at some examples of horses who would be substantially less fugly if they were at their proper weight!
My first reaction to seeing this mare was something along the lines of "OMG can she even walk?" While she is shiny and I am sure she is happy, this level of obesity will only lead to serious and painful problems in the future (if it hasn't already). Her tail is disappearing between her huge butt cheeks. Her neck is immense. Her entire body has basically been painted with the fat stick. If you've ever wondered what Kirstie Alley would look like if she were an AQHA mare, now you know!
This broodmare shouldn't be one no matter what with that straight shoulder and ultra looong back, but the blubber just makes her look worse and puts her at extremely high risk for founder and other physical consequences. Here is a great veterinary article on the dangers of equine obesity
Unfortunately, many beginner horse owners equate food with love and because the horse gets so excited about food, they keep pumping it to him or her. Or they are just plain lazy and do not want the extra work of pulling the horse off of pasture and setting up a dry lot for turnout. In either case, overfeeding is cruelty. There are few conditions as painful for a horse as chronic founder. A horse must stand most of his life, so feet that are in excruciating pain is a fate that is often worse than death. The owner who really loves their horse will keep him or her at a healthy weight and avoid these problems.
Will any of you be surprised when I tell you that this overfed mare (and her fugly overfed friends) are currently posted online as being at risk of going to kill or auction because the rancher now needs to "downsize" ? This is a 22 year old mare that is only halter broke and I will be amazed if she has not already foundered. What chance does she really have? Hooray, we have today's winners of the Irresponsible Breeding Sweepstakes!
Here's the other end of the spectrum. Here are some terms you might want to know before you decide to breed horses: Ivermectin. Strongid. Panacur. Has this sad filly EVER been dewormed? I doubt it. She is a rack of bones with a hanging, wormy belly. Her coat looks awful. Everything about her screams neglect. You know what? This is one of those that, if I could get my hands on her, or any of you who know what you're doing with nutrition, actually could have some potential. The bone structure is not all bad here. Yeah, she's got a bad case of "nest" but some of that is malnutrition. The pose couldn't be worse, and the condition is appalling...but there is some potential for a usable animal here if she is fortunate enough to get sold to someone who isn't clueless. Poor little thing. I am editing (yet again) to add that I have received information claiming the person in the picture is part of the family which rescued the filly. So my initial reaction was, yay, she is saved. However, they went on to comment that after buying the filly from the first irresponsible person, they had $20 left in the bank. And that they cannot afford to buy a saddle. And they do not have any plans to break her to ride. So, all in all, it sure looks to me like she went from irresponsible person #1 to irresponsible person #2. But that is okay, I am sure when she is a 10 year old unbroke mare, someone will want to breed her because she is a SABINO! (entire blog's point...brilliantly illustrated in this simple example)...*sigh*
OK, here's proper weight on a senior horse. This is a 19 year old mare and I must congratulate her owners. She is exactly where she should be, weight wise. She is not ribby, but you can still tell there are bones in there. I don't mind if performance horses are a little lighter than this, depending on discipline. This is definitely hunter-style "show weight." It looks good on her. I can't remember where I found her but I think she's a broodmare (and she looks nice enough to deserve that title). Note the excellent condition for a 19 year old Thoroughbred. No ribs, no sagging, no falling apart in general. This mare is a testament to good care - I doubt any of you would have guessed her age if I hadn't told you.
Totally off topic but...some h/j trainer in California who has students looking for first horses needs to go look at this mare. She is cute and looks like quite a deal for $1200. By the way, folks, this is how to put on a hackamore way too low. It is not supposed to be on their nostrils. http://www.equinehits.com/horses-for-sale/horse-105410