Perceptions of obesity among leisure-horse owners
Obesity is becoming a growing health concern in horses, especially in the leisure horse sector. It has even been considered as one of the main welfare issues among horses. For leisure-horse owners, any evaluation of adiposity in their horses depends on visual appraisal alone. The aim of this study was, therefore, to evaluate owner’s perceptions of obesity and to gather more information regarding care and management practises of horses in the UK.
The method consisted out of two internet-based questionnaires. The first questionnaire used lateral photographic images of horses and ponies with a range of BCSs and evaluated obesity perceptions. The second questionnaire gathered data on management practises.
In total, 539 respondents answered the first questionnaire. Only 11% of the sample population identified the overweight animals correctly. Horse owners rated horses used for competing in showing significantly lower when compared to other disciplines. The second questionnaire was filled out by 177 owners and revealed an owners reported obesity prevalence of 4.5%. Seasonal changes, exercise and feeding practises were reported.
The authors concluded that horse managers vary in their perceptions of obesity. Further studies are necessary to investigate the impact of management factors on equine obesity prevalence in the UK.
> From: Morrison et al., J. Equine. Vet. Sci. 53 (2017) 19-29. All rights reserved to Elsevier Inc.. Click here for the online summary.