Obesity risk for Borders horses and ponies

Iain Lathangie, equine clinical director at Galedin Vets in Duns, checks  Casper's weight  on the weighing scales while assistant vet Michael Morrison hold the pony from Swinton.
Iain Lathangie, equine clinical director at Galedin Vets in Duns, checks Casper's weight on the weighing scales while assistant vet Michael Morrison hold the pony from Swinton.

A Berwickshire vet has issued a stark warning that obesity is the gravest threat facing horses across the Borders region and that some owners are risking their horse’s health and wellbeing.

Iain Lathangie, equine clinical director at Galedin Vets, revealed that approximately one third of horses brought into their equine clinic in Duns are overweight.

Obese horses are at increased risk of suffering from laminitis, a potentially fatal condition caused by blood flow restriction to the hooves, which causes pain and inflammation. Galedin Vets is encouraging owners to contact them for advice on diet and general care of horses, as well as take advantage of the clinic’s mobile weigh scales.

Mr Lathangie said: “Obesity is now a big problem in both horses and ponies. My colleagues and I are seeing more and more overweight horses and ponies at the clinic and on our rounds, and this is a big concern.

“At this time of year, horses should naturally be dropping a little bit of weight rather than putting it on. They should be on a maintenance-type diet if they’re not in much ridden work.

“These overweight horses face big health risks when they are given access to spring grass.

“The breeds probably most at risk are native breed horses and ponies, which generally gain weight easily.”

As well as the risk of laminitis, being overweight can put unnecessary strain on a horse’s joints, particularly for older horses.