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Ask the Nutritionist: Dr. Getty's Forum for Equine Nutrition

   Welcome to my forum. 

Here you will find more than 6 years of questions and my answers. It is searchable and offers a great deal of information. 

Currently, I am discontinuing new questions. This may change in the future, but in the meantime, please know that It has been a true pleasure serving you. 

Take a look at my Nutrition Library and Tips of the Month for a variety of answers on selected topics. Be sure to sign up for my monthly e-newsletter, Forage for Thought

I also have a growing number of recordings on "Teleseminars on Nutrition Topics that Concern You" as well as the new, Spotlight on Equine Nutrition Series -- printed versions of favorite teleseminars.

And finally, look for my articles in a variety of local publications and online newsletters, as well as the Horse Journal, where I am the Contributing Nutrition Editor.  


All the best,

 Dr. Getty 


Ask the Nutritionist: Dr. Getty's Forum for Equine Nutrition
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overweight pony

I had a pony given to me as a companion for my 2 yr old gelding,he was very over weight when I got him,I have him currently seperated from my other now two horses, and am wonderiing how much hay I should be feeding him. I would like him to lose the weight fairly quickly as I am very concerned for his health I would hate for somthing to happen to him,I have found heat rings in his feet as he escaped in the summer and got into the sweet feed,I was very surprised that nothing else happend to him,as I am fairly inexperienced with horses I just want to make sure I am giving him enough feed but not to much! if I had to guess he would weigh in around 500lbs and stands about 10HH the can u help??

Where are you from? edmonton alberta

How did you locate this forum? google

Re: overweight pony

Hi Karen,

Ah, yes – sounds like he could afford to lose a few pounds!

To help him lose weight you’ll need to cut back on his calories, but not to the extent that he becomes undernourished. So, the goal should be a slow and steady weight loss, not a fast one. I understand your concern about laminitis, but you can avoid this potential problem by not offering him any grain or pelleted feed that is made from grain.

I would recommend that you offer him grass hay throughout the day – he needs to have a consistent source of roughage. If he is on pasture, then you can offer him 2 to 3 flakes of hay. But, if you do not have pasture, spread hay around his area so he has to walk around to get to it.

He also needs exercise. Is he allowed to roam freely 24/7? If not, perhaps you can arrange for him to be able to graze freely so he can be continuously active. And taking him for a daily walk would be beneficial.

To round out his diet, you can offer two meals a day of alfalfa pellets (approximately 1 cup) and a vitamin/mineral supplement, such as Select II or Vita Plus.

Plenty of water is important, so be sure to have it temperature controlled to no less than 50 degrees Farenheit so he will drink enough. And, an iodized salt lick is important, as well.

It would be best to avoid giving him any sweet treats – so no apples or carrots. But, alfalfa cubes are fine.

He will lose weight this way , slowly and in a way that is healthful. Keep me posted on his progress.

All the best,

Dr. Getty

Re: overweight pony

Hi Karen and Dr. Getty, We had a similar problem but our pony would gain weight on pasture alone. Rather than keep her seperated on a dirt round pen we purchased the Best Friend muzzle which limited her to a small opening. It worked really well to maintain her weight until she chewed the whole bigger.

Where are you from? Minnesota

How did you locate this forum? Search for Omelene 200

Re: overweight pony

Hi Christine,

I don't like to use these muzzles for two reasons:

1. They are stressful to the horse. And, stress causes the release of the hormone cortisol, which actually causes the body to hold on to more fat, rather than lose it. So, it defeats the purpose.


2. When feed is severely restricted, it creates a decline in the metabolic rate, so the horse does not lose weight as fast. Instead, eating small amounts throughout the day stimulates the metabolism, thereby promoting weight loss.

Thank you so much for bringing up this important issue.

All the best,

Dr. Getty