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Planning to medicate your horse? Deworm? Calculate feed? You absolutely need to know how much he or she weighs. But without a commercial scale, how do you do that? A weight tape provides an estimated weight, but for a closer approximation, Dr. Juliet Getty shares this handy formula for figuring your horse's weight using a tape measure:
View diagram[i] on page 168 of Dr. Getty's comprehensive reference book, Feed Your Horse Like A Horse
Weight is not the only important diagnostic tool to measure your horse's health. You'll want to consider his Henneke body condition score, too; a horse can be of normal weight and still develop regional fat deposits along the crest of the neck, back, shoulder, and tail head, indicating insulin resistance. Along with other useful information about a horse's "weighty matters," instructions for using the Henneke system are on page 173 of Feed Your Horse Like a Horse. You can also view a helpful demonstration in this Purina video at https://youtu.be/sXe1TxC5ukc .
Monitoring your horse's weight helps you know how well your weight loss plan is working. Keep in mind, however, that measurements tell you nothing about the source of weight loss. Your horse may be losing muscle instead of fat, especially if you are limiting his amount of forage intake. Conversely, horses fed forage free-choice will naturally produce more gas, creating a "hay belly;" the measurements will make it appear as though your horse is gaining weight, when in fact, it is gas that is causing abdominal distention. This is normal and healthy.
[i] Copyright Dr. Robin Peterson
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Getty Equine Nutrition, LLC
Juliet M. Getty, Ph.D.
12608 Lignite Drive
Denton, TX 76207
Phone: (940) 272-0001
Juliet M. Getty, Ph.D. is an independent equine nutritionist offering nutrition services for all life stages and integrative support for disorders and diseases. Your horse's quality of life is Dr. Getty's priority.
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