Return to Website

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
This Forum is Locked
overweight youngster

I just read another thread on an overweight gelding from a gal named Sue. Same topic, same problem although slightly differnt.

I have a 4 year old Arab gelding. He was worked pretty good over the winter (driving horse) but has not been worked since March. As a result he has put on a lot of weight. Lush pasture, maybe 2 Tablespoons of alfalfa pellets and same of Seminole Blue Ribbon 10% textured feed. He still is gaining weight. I know I need to exercise him and am starting slight work in the round pen or ponying off his mom a couple times a week. He is on good pasture 8-10 hrs a day and has a couple of flakes of bermuda hay inthe evening. I am a little confused by something y ou said to the other Sue. I go tthe impression that it better for him to stay out on the grass 24/7. Would a grazing muzzle help here if I were to let him out all the time? He can do without grain just thinks he needs it when the other horses are fed.

Where are you from? Central Florida

How did you locate this forum? Linked from a post on

Re: overweight youngster

Hi Sue,

There are a few things going on in your situation. First, while he was exercising, his metabolic rate was stimulated. Plus, he was building muscle mass, which is metabolically active. Once he stops exercising, his metabolic rate declines, making it easier to gain weight. And, his muscles start to atrophy (break down), causing a further decline in the rate that he burns calories.

So, your plan to resume exercising is a good one!

The other thing that may be happening is going without the ability to graze for a few hours. You mentioned that he’s on pasture for 8-10 hours, so I’m assuming that he’s stalled for the remainder of the time? Those many hours could be used for activity, so if your situation allows, I would suggest allowing him to be on pasture. If you cannot do this, and his hay runs out during the night, I would recommend that you either provide him with more hay.

I know it seems odd that giving him more hay or pasture would be helpful for weight loss, but actually it’s the best thing for him. It will help him lose weight in three ways:

1. Eating stimulates the metabolic rate (as long as the calorie level is low, as it is with forage),

2. Grazing includes moving about – walking here and there – which is mild exercise, and

3. Not be able to graze, using a grazing muzzle, or going without food, increases the release of cortisol (a stress hormone). This hormone promotes the storage of fat, so the goal is to reduce stress. So, grazing 24/7 will boost his fat-burning ability due to the reduced stress level.

So, instead of giving him the grain-based feed at meal time, you can increase the alfalfa pellets a little. Alfalfa is very helpful in boosting the quality of his protein intake since it balances out the amino acid profile of grass hay and pasture.

I hope this is helpful. Thank you for writing about this very interesting situation.

All the best,

Dr. Getty