The great weight debate


Learning all the time
Jul 18, 2005
North west
Following on from a range of weight related posts, interested to see what the general consensus is on my two ponies.

I have my own opinion, as does the vet. Its been reported that 50% horses are over weight, interested to see how the board membership opinion varies on condition scoring and what we would do to alter things - if we would.

Please excuse the awful poses - was windy today and they were keen to be in! And the "au natural look"!! She has a very hairy neck and nose as she has balded and regrown summer coat with her auto immune disease.













Well-Known Member
Oct 13, 2004
On an island
I think they both look just fine. Gorgeous and ridiculously cute btw. Please send them both to me here in Lancashire, where I will snuzzle them both to within an inch of their lives......heheehehee.


Jane&Sid these days!
Apr 30, 2010
Surrey Hills
I think Silver looks fine. Can't tell with Rascal because he is a funny shape being so small and all!

I love the one of Silv's nose. I have a soft spot for noses.


Grumpy old nag
Aug 5, 2009
Trust me to rock the boat!:frown: I actually think Silver could do with losing a pound or two, I dont think she is massively overweight, but in view of her health problems I would be trying to shift a little bit off her before summer really sets in.

I wouldn't even hazard a guess about the cheeky boy.....Shetlands are so fluffy and cuddly at this time of the year it is nigh on impossible to get a true picture of their weight IMO.:redcarded:


Well-Known Member
Mar 15, 2008
I guess I would want to know age, breed, height and weight currently.

Silver looks fine to me, hard to tell with photos, one she looks as if she could lose something on her bum, and then another photo not. No crest, can see the shoulder and wither, not sure on further back as could be holding some ounces.

Rascal, well under that fluff and fuzzy cuteness, hard to say. Too adorable to focus. :giggle:


Learning all the time
Jul 18, 2005
North west
Interesting to see replies - we must not all fall in the "failing to see out horses are fat" category!

Silver is carrying a little more than she needs to on her shoulder and ribs, but I'm not too worried - she uses a lot of calories regrowing her hair so nice to have a little in reserve. The photos don't show her very well - her hips are almost "emaciated" - stick out and look gaunt - but this is loss of muscle tone, not underweight.

Rascal on the other hand is a complete skinny Minnie under his fluff! Sticky out hips and shoulders, can feel all his ribs! I'm almost tempted to clip him just to check he isn't too underweight but he seems happy enough (as always!)

Mary Poppins

Well-Known Member
Oct 10, 2004
Visit site
I find it really hard to tell weight from photos. I think that you really need to touch the horse to see how easily the ribs can be felt and to feel for fat pockets.

Saying that, they both look good to me. They certainly don't have the 'apple bum' that my horse still doesn't show any signs of shifting, despite losing 120kg in weight.


Well-Known Member
Oct 15, 2010
I was going to say Silver looks ok, but knowing she has her health problems I would want to know if she drops weight in her episodes or puts weight on due to lack of exercise. That would then help me decide if I would rather her on the lean side or the slightly overweight side.

I think I do fall into the category of not seeing horses as fat as I am surrounded by fat horses and that has become 'normal', but not to the extent of some.

PS. Just. Too. Cute!!!!!!


Well-Known Member
Apr 23, 2009
To be honest I find the whole weight thing quite confusing, probably because it's another of those 'new' things that seems to have happened during the 30 years I wasn't riding.

Obviously you wouldn't want a horse to be grossly overweight but surely it isn't necessay for all horses to be showing their ribs? It must depend on the breed, the work they're expected to do and, as Laura points out, other health issues. For instance a horse who is known to fret and lose weight at the drop of a hat, you surely wouldn't want it to be so thin that it had no spare flesh to lose if it did have an 'episode'. Similarly a horse doing a lot of work will need to be 'fit not fat' but for a horse that is hacked out gently at weekends does it really matter?

A couple of the horses on the yard have been quite ill since I've been there and I couldn't believe how quickly they lost weight - they seemed to just melt away in a matter of days. If they'd been really slim to start with they'd have had nowhere to go.

And isn't it better to use increased exercise over cutting back food as a method of losing weight? Although I appreciate this isn't always possible if there are other health issues.

I think Silver and Rascal look great btw!

I've just realised that this might sound like a critical post, but it really isn't. They're genuine questions from someone who's just trying to catch up!


Learning all the time
Jul 18, 2005
North west
I think they are all good points to raise - and glad they were raised.

For me it is the pony in question.

Rascal fluctuates naturally - he drops in winter and gains in summer - ideal. He still requires restricting in summer to make sure he doesn't gain too much, but I don't worry about some gain. His stifles are much better if he is kept slim. He has the ideal metabolism and I love that!

Silver on the other hand gets fat until she pops. I now manage her weight strictly all spring/summer and then take of muzzle/unrestrict in autumn to let her gain a little in prep for winter. She is definitely not holding condition as well in winter as she used to, and when her hair comes off she uses a lot of body at to grow new hair - hence liking some weight on her late autumn.

I don't think you should necessary see ribs, but certainly feel them without too much poking.

I actually nearly rugged madam up for our ride - I was so self conscious about how "scrawny" she looked due to the muscle tone loss - and people remarking how she was skin and bones or similar.

Yet people always joke about how fat rascal is - I keep making people feel him to try and encourage people to undertand condition scoring :giggle::eek:


And isn't it better to use increased exercise over cutting back food as a method of losing weight? Although I appreciate this isn't always possible if there are other health issues.

Agree that this is often overlooked. I think the problem is that a lot of domestic horses aren't just a little overweight but quite markedly so, and what we know these days is that aside from being bad for them in terms of joint wear etc that it can cause metabolic problems too such as insulin resistance and potentially lead to laminitis.

As I understand it the ideal isn't to be able to see the ribs, but you should be able to clearly make them out by touching the horse, and perhaps see them occasionally when the horse is moving if it's at the light end of 'right' :)


Well-Known Member
Mar 15, 2008
It is the individual horse which is why I said I would want to know breed, age and height. People keep telling me the cob Is overweight, their perception is from owning a tb. So yes she would look big. But she is back in the 26" girth and she is part Shire. Any less and I have an over sized head and whippet body.
I can feel her rib cage, not individual ribs but the barrel isn't covered in a duvet of fat.


Well-Known Member
Sep 14, 2009
I have to say this before I burst ..................... I hate seeing thin horses!!!

Equally, I don't like seeing obese horse, but I don't like seeing ribs on horse, nor hip bones, nor a goose rump.

Probably very bad and non PC, but I love to see a covered horse with a gleaming coat and a good eye.
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