Bens weightloss diary

Mary Poppins

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Thank you to everyone who responded to my other thread about my initial horror to the vets report on Bens weight. I thought that I would start a diary to track his progress and to record any weightloss tips I might find along the way. For my reference (and to keep track of the excellent advice given) the thread is: http://www.newrider.com/forum/showthread.php?t=234544

On 15th November 2012, the vet came to do an annual check of Ben and give him his jabs. He very nicely told me that Ben was far too fat and on the 'fat score' he came out as a 5. The crest on his neck is a 4 to 4.5, his back is a 4.5 and his bum and rear end are a 5+. Overall the score is 5 and I need to drastically reduce his weight.

So, from this date his rugs have been removed completely and unless we have solid rain for more than 2 days, he won't be rugged all winter. He is to have no hard feed (but I have never fed him anyway) and only a slight token haynet when he comes in during the daytime. He is coming in to have a break from the field (he likes to have a good sleep in his stable) and to stop him eating. I need to really exercise him to burn his fat. Today (Nov 17th) he weight taped at 665kg.

Since the vet came I have ridden him as follows:
Thursday 15th Nov - 1 hour hack round the fields. Plently of trotting and some long canters up the hill.
Fri 16th - 45 minute schooling session. Mostly in trot as our arena is very boggy and unsuitable for much cantering (this should be sorted soon).
Sat 17th - 1 hour hack. Lots of trot with several long and short canters up and down the hills. All the walk sections were marching forward and he only properly had a long rein when we were cooling down.

I rarely post pictures of him and I might take this down at some point (I like to be annoymous) but I would really appreciate any comments that you have about his weight. At my yard some people are still telling me that he is not fat at all and the vet is over reacting and making a full about nothing. Others agree that he is fat. So far no-one has made too much fuss about me taking away his rugs, but I have got in there first and told them that I am doing it on vets advice and asked them to please not have a go at me about it. That seems to have worked.

Here is my lovely boy. I really do love him to bits and will do anything that my vet says is necessary to keep him healthy. This picture was taken yesterday.
 

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Lemme

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Fiestly hes lovely, its difficult to say too much regards the weight from the photo - at first glance you would say a good weight going into winter, hes never going to be TB shape is he, out without a rug you would expect weight loss into spring providing you don't over feed with extras - having natives I know how difficult it can be - of course a bum shot or neck/shoulder shot might tell a different tale - I find vets tend nowadays to be on the ball re weight so your vet must see something in the flesh that can't be seen on the photo - with the increase in exercise and leaving him naked then it will be interesting to see the change in shape - muscle weighs more than fat so often muscling and toning just pulls it all together - but can make them look bigger - post a couple of extra shots close up backside and the neck/shoulder it will help others to offer their opinion - at the end of the day thats all we can give - I tend to like Tess to go into winter holding a few extra kilo - she lives out 24/7 naked and tends to drop weight quickly if not kept an eye on, they are all individuals and some store fat on fresh air - certainly the regime you have him on can only be good.
look forward to updates
 

tiga

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He does look fat but it's hard to tell how big he is from that pic.

One thing I wish I had done on our weight loss journey was take pictures every week to monitor the progress. If I were you I would do this but do the same pictures - so from behind, both sides stood straight up and from the front. I think it really helps to see the progress as it can be hard to see when you are with them everyday. It also helps when you are feeling a bit rubbish and you can look at the progress you are making and get a bit of a lift. Not meaning that you have to post the pics, but just for yourself.

How big is he? Hands, I mean.
 

Mary Poppins

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Fiestly hes lovely, its difficult to say too much regards the weight from the photo - at first glance you would say a good weight going into winter, hes never going to be TB shape is he, out without a rug you would expect weight loss into spring providing you don't over feed with extras

Thank you. I agree that he is lovely. Although I know that I am biased, I think that he is so good looking.

He is apparently 50% TB so you could argue that he should have some similar attributes to a TB. I think that his neck and legs are more TB and his body and bum is more Shire. Here are some more photos, all honest opinions are welcome. I am so confused with such differing opinions on his weight. I think that the photos make him look leaner than he actually is, although maybe I am seeing things after what my vet told me.
 

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Mary Poppins

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He does look fat but it's hard to tell how big he is from that pic.

One thing I wish I had done on our weight loss journey was take pictures every week to monitor the progress. If I were you I would do this but do the same pictures - so from behind, both sides stood straight up and from the front. I think it really helps to see the progress as it can be hard to see when you are with them everyday. It also helps when you are feeling a bit rubbish and you can look at the progress you are making and get a bit of a lift. Not meaning that you have to post the pics, but just for yourself.

How big is he? Hands, I mean.

He is 16hh - possibly 16.1hh but I haven't got a proper height stick to measure his height.

I am going to take regular photos and weight tape him every week. It is the 'grove' in his apple bum which I am most concerned about. He has got a really defined grove which he shouldn't have at all.

The vet did say that he had good muscle tone as well and it was obvious that he is well excerised. He described him as 'fit and fat'.
 

Lemme

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those photos are better for seeing whats what - yes the apple bum and gutter are evident and also the crest outline - I don't see too much of the TB in him TBH as you say especially on the body - hes 16hh so not a small Chap with the heavier cross in him - but definate a need for some weight loss - but you have a good regime in place for managing that - do as suggested take the photos at the same time you weightape - initially I would suggest once a week- giving a chance for the changes and increase in exercise to work - looking forward to seeing your journey with this - winter can be a help providing you can maintain the exercise, we don't have a school so we struggle this time of year.
 

popularfurball

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He is a similar "fat build" to silver - you'll find it comes off some places better than others.

She doesn't look fat on her tummy, but it goes on her bum, neck and behind her shoulder. Shoulder is first to come and last to go. Then crest then bum.
 

Mary Poppins

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Excercise for Sunday 18th November: 1.5 hour hack in company. Lots and lots of trotting - several long canters and also several short bursts of canter whilst trotting. Ben was tired after this but not excessively so. He was slightly sweaty on his non clipped areas but no way near dripping. I'm tired though. I normally hack on Sunday mornings but usually it is far more sedate with mainly walk and just small bursts of trot. It was beautiful to ride over the frosty fields though - we saw lots of deer as well!
 

Thyme & Me

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all honest opinions are welcome. I am so confused with such differing opinions on his weight.

Well my advice would be to listen to your vet! He has actually examined Ben and given you totally clear information. So the only reason for confusion would be
a) You don't believe in your vet. Fair enough, I don't believe in my husband's consultant! But in that case get a second opinion.
b) You think opinionated but non-qualified horse owners know better than qualified vets.....
or
c) You just don't have the confidence to tell everyone else to get stuffed!

He does look too fat. That apple bum is a good indicator. But it doesn't matter what I think, because you have an expert on hand and don't need to ask anyone else what they think.

I think you know this actually, and just need reassurance to face down possible criticism. But if you know in your heart you are doing your best for Ben then sod everyone else.

Good luck with Ben-Boot-Camp :smile:
 

Mary Poppins

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He does look too fat. That apple bum is a good indicator. But it doesn't matter what I think, because you have an expert on hand and don't need to ask anyone else what they think.

I don't need anyone to tell me what to think, but I am interested in other peoples perceptions of him. What I have learnt over my first year of ownership is that there is such a wide range of viewpoints and different people look after their horses is vastly different ways. Even different vets will give different advice and I think that it is good to have an open mind and obtain different perspectives. I have learnt so much in the last few days about weight management from different peoples experiences - both on here and on my yard. I always like to ask others for their opinions, but it doesn't mean that I can't think for myself or stand by my own decisions.
 

nat17

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IMO - He is ok going into winter but I wouldn't want to see him coming into spring the same. Apple bottom although a warning can be his shape, Sam has an apple bottom even if he is a perfect weight, my vet advised me that he will always have an apple bottom even when at perfect weight everywhere else, its his shape and I should be aiming to reduce his overall weight than focus on his big backside. I don't take that as an excuse to have him fat though, winter is the start of his weight loss and its up to me to keep him that way during spring and summer

If he remains un-rugged with a token hay net when he is in, I would have thought he should drop the weight anyway during the winter, especially given the level of exercise he is in. Sam is a similar weight has ad lib haylage on 4 acres, token simple systems feed, hardly any riding, and he looses enough to score a 3.5 by spring.

Personally I would never take my vets advice as gospel anyway, I would always research, canvas opinion, and get real life owners to share their experience. On weight issues maybe but always getting lots of opinions to help you form yours I believe is a very good thing to do. I didn;t get a diagnosis for Minnie by believing my vet knew everything!
 

sjp1

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Personally I always like horses to go into winter carrying a bit of extra weight - it was the old way and then they drop weight in the winter and come into spring a bit lean.

I am guessing you don't feed him hard feed, but fortunately or unfortunately whichever way you look at it, he has access to a lot of grass. IMO, grass is what puts condition on horses, much more so than a scoop of hard feed. Even TB's will always gain better condition on grass than they will do on bucketloads of hard feed.

I think your plan of leaving him with no rugs which he will be fine with, and monitoring him initially, is the best way to start. And if he still doesn't lose, then I guess you will have to either put a grazing muzzle on, or bring him in more.

Incidentally, what does your vet say the correct weight for him should be?

Oh and agree with Nat about the shape of the bottom - Tobes even when quite slim still has a good backend - he is an appaloosa and clearly quarterhorse figures in his breeding. Quarter horses have big backends and Tobes is no different - so if Ben is half shire, he too will have that backend.
 

Mary Poppins

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I am guessing you don't feed him hard feed, but fortunately or unfortunately whichever way you look at it, he has access to a lot of grass. IMO, grass is what puts condition on horses, much more so than a scoop of hard feed. Even TB's will always gain better condition on grass than they will do on bucketloads of hard feed.

I haven't fed him any hard feed since about March this year. The vet said the same as you - that it was the grass which was the culprit and that if he didn't lose weight then I will have to consider putting a muzzle on him or moving him into a starvation paddock. This is where the difficulty comes - our fields are HUGE. They are very well rotated and well maintained and therefore always full of grass. We do not have a starvation paddock and we do not have any small fields. The only other pony who needs restricted grazing due to previously suffering laminitis wears a grazing muzzle when she is out.

I want him to live out overnight and the vet agreed that this was best for him as he will burn calories moving around and I could leave him unrugged. It wouldn't be fair to leave a stabled horse unrugged because they can't move to keep warm. Ben has never been kept in overnight (apart from when he cut his leg earlier in the year) and he much prefers living out. I want him to be a horse in a field rather than stuck in a stable. However, the only other horse (and Bens best friend) who stays out is a very poor doer who is an ex eventer. He is the perfect weight and needs all this grass.

What I find interesting is the different perceptions on the amount of grass in the field. I mentioned to some people that there was too much grass for Ben, and they were very surprised and told me that there was no grass at all in the field and not to worry. But I can SEE the grass - it is green and all around the field. You can tell by the first picture I posted.

The vet couldn't say what the perfect weight for Ben would be because he said that all horses are different shapes and carry excess weight differently. He said that I need to use the weight tape to monitor weightloss, but continue to 'fat score' him to measure where he is losing it. He explained that much of the 'fat scoring' lies in the ability to tell the difference in feel between fat and muscle and being able to objectively score your own horse without have rose tinted specs.

Thanks everyone for all your input and comments. It's all food for thought and very valuable as this is all so new to me.
 

Ruskii

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My cob has the apple bum as well no matter what his weight. In all honesty looking at these pics I would agree with your vet. My own boy is weigh taping about the same as yours. I have the vet out next week for his annual check up and jabs - wondering what they'll say about his weight this year :cold:
 

Mary Poppins

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My cob has the apple bum as well no matter what his weight. In all honesty looking at these pics I would agree with your vet. My own boy is weigh taping about the same as yours. I have the vet out next week for his annual check up and jabs - wondering what they'll say about his weight this year :cold:

I hope that you don't get as told off as I was (although my vet was very nice about it!). What upset me the most wasn't really that he was fat, it was because I didn't realise that he was fat. I thought that he was the shape of a heavy horse and that he was actually a healthy weight. I know that first time horse owners need to learn as they go along, but it is funny that now I look at him and all I see is the fat, whereas last week I didn't see that at all.
 

Mary Poppins

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If he remains un-rugged with a token hay net when he is in, I would have thought he should drop the weight anyway during the winter, especially given the level of exercise he is in. Sam is a similar weight has ad lib haylage on 4 acres, token simple systems feed, hardly any riding, and he looses enough to score a 3.5 by spring.

The vet said that it would be realistic to get Ben to a score of 4 by February, and we would be very lucky to get him down to 3.5. Apparently he should be 2.5 going into spring and that is what I need to aim for the following year. Even with some significant weight loss, he will still need restricted grazing on the spring grass and I need to aim to have him no more than a score of 4 and ideally 3.5 for this time next year.
 

OwnedbyChanter

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MP I know Ben is your world and it is always a shock when someone tells you something about them that you where not expecting,

when chanter first went lame I took him to Oakham and the vet said he was carrying more weight than he should I was gob smacked he was fit and healthy in my eyes...humm no

After that I got on board the weight program and I have never had it said to me since and we have regular weight bridges brought to the yard. I sometimes have the odd comment about how few rugs he is wearing or how little feed he gets plus the odd comment that he is to thin but that is mostly from people with horses that are over weight!!! I like them to be 2.5 and feed to how they look.

Going back to Ben sorry but to me he is carry more than he needs. You are doing all the right things, no rugs, no hard feed I agree with the net when in but I would soak it for 12 hours to remove any goodness from it (soak not hose) Your exercise is stop on as I would always expect from you. Intervals it the key to weight loss shot and sharp. If the results are not showing you may well have to muzzle for a couple of hours a day I know he can be a little (big) monster for the ladies at the yard ti catch but it is what you pay them for so they need to man up.

Weigh tape and photo's to monitor and good luck hugs to Benny boy
 

tiga

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I think the problem for all of us is that we underestimate the amount of work and overestimate the feed our horses need.

It's ok to say that in the old days they would drop weight in the winter and pick up in the spring, but our horses don't generally live as they did in the old days. OUr fields are fertilised and without all the scrubby stuff that used to be in fields. We give the horses feed/balancers/vitamins etc which they just didn't used to get. And they aren't worked like they used to be.

Take a horse like Ben or my Izzy. Sixty years ago they would have been pulling a plough or a caravan all day, been getting no feed except grass and maybe a bit of hay. The grass would have been rough and not fertilised. Now we have them and we think that a 2 hour hack is a lot of work and they are on good grass and haylage.

I'm not saying that we should work them 12 hours a day - but they have evolved/been bred to work hard on next to nothing. It's no wonder that as leisure horses they get fat.

On the positive side, MP, I have found that once I got Izzy slimmed down and fit, it has been much, much easier to keep him that way. Think their metabolism changes and this spring he got a bit of a tummy for about 2 weeks but didn't actually put much on. So once you have done the hardest work, you will hopefully find it easier to maintain.
 

Mary Poppins

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Thanks for your encouragement. It does really help and makes me feel like I am not so alone in all this.

Exercise for tonight (Mon 19th) was an hour in the school. It was so windy and spitting with rain. Ben was not keen to stand still for me to get on but after 3 attempts he stood still! Someone turned the arena lights out after 10 minutes and we were plunged into darkness. Ben did spook a little, but was as good as gold considering. Our school is still really deep in places so we could only do short bursts of canter - cantering through the boggy bits just feels too heavy for his legs. We spent most of the time in trot concentrating on 10m circles in both directions and leg yielding along the long sides. We did some excellent walk to canter transitions as well. Our canter lead on the left rein is still very hit and miss and I find it difficult to tell if I am right or not. The arena is so dark and he is jet black so I find it hard to look down and see his legs to tell if I am right or not. Roll on summer.

After an hour of mostly trot work he was not sweaty at all and I don't think that he really worked very hard. I am making sure that he puts effort into the trot and that all periods of walk are active and forward. He is actually pretty fit and I find it frustrating that our arena is not suitable to do more faster work. It's due for more heavy rain this week so I can't see that changing much in the near future.
 
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