Hoof Nutrition Intelligence is a twice-a-month web segment that is designed to add to the education of footcare professionals when it comes to effectively feeding the hoof. The goal of this web-exclusive feature is to zero in on specific areas of hoof nutrition and avoid broad-based articles that simply look at the overall equine feeding situation.
This edition is sponsored by the W.F. Young Co. (Absorbine) of East Longmeadow, Mass.
Below you will find Part 2 of the latest question and answer installment that you can share with your footcare clients.
Q: With my fat gelding, who is an easy keeper and ridden several times a week, should I leave the grazing muzzle on all the time or give him an hour of muzzle-free freedom every day?
By Krishona Martinson
Past research indicates a grazing muzzle reduces feed intake by 30% and that some horses can become very adept at grazing through a muzzle. As long as the horse can easily access water and can tolerate wearing the muzzle, I’d recommend leaving the muzzle on all day for an overweight horse with access to pasture. A 30% reduction in grain or forage calories should lead to weight loss.
Research has also shown that horses with access to as little as 3 hours of pasture each day can consume a majority of their daily calories and anticipate and adjust to a restricted grazing schedule.
Owners should track their horse’s body weight and body condition score each month. Reduce the amount of time the horse is muzzled if excessive body weight and body condition is lost. Conversely, if the horse starts to gain body weight or is not losing weight, it might be best to house the horse in a drylot and feed a reduced calorie hay diet, such as mature grass hay.
The goal should be for the horse to lose weight slowly but steadily. If excessive body weight continues to be a concern, work with an equine nutritionist and veterinarian to identify additional solutions for weight loss.
Krishona Martinson is an equine specialist at the University of Minnesota in St. Paul, Minn.
Click here to read Part 2 of the September 1, 2017 installment: My pony has some of the risk factors associated with laminitis. My vet voiced a concern about equine metabolic syndrome also being a concern and I know little about it.