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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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obese cob

Dear Dr Getty,

Please help!!!

I have an obese cob and I don't know how to start getting the weight off her. She has been turned out (along with another cob & 2 ponies) for two years due to a nasty divorce. She mainly lives out, only coming in if we have snow on the ground. When in she has hay off our own field and a small feed of Hifi light, speedie beet & nuts. This is NOT very often! During the winter she is out grazing and they have ad lib hay in the field. During the summer they are out grazing. She was fat last year and I hoped she would drop weight over the winter but she didn't!!! Now she has had spring grass she is just ballooning!!! They are now on a paddock with short grass. The grass up here is much richer than where I used to live (it is Angus beef country here!!). We only moved here just over a year ago and since then she has just got bigger and bigger. Due to work and house renovations I dont have time to ride her. I don't want to part with her because she is my pride and joy and I hope within the next year or so that things will have eased off and I can get back to riding her, but I am worried that if I don't do something quick I am going to lose her!



Where are you from? Scotland

How did you locate this forum? web search

Re: obese cob

Hi Jan,

Well, as you already know, the best way to get some weight off of her would be to exercise her. Since that is not feasible for you right now, there are a few suggestions I can offer. The first thing to keep in mind, however, is the importance of feeding her and not reducing her feed intake dramatically. Otherwise, you would defeat your purpose and further slow down her metabolic rate.

Since she is overweight, she is very likely insulin resistant. What this means is that any time her blood sugar level increases, her body responds by releasing insulin into the bloodstream. Since her cells are resistant to insulin, she continues to pump out more and more insulin. The result of this excess insulin is more fat storage. So, the only way to reduce her insulin output is to decrease the amount of sugar that enters her bloodstream.

So, you’ll want to stop feeding her anything that is made from grain. I am not sure what is in Hifi light, but if it is made from oats, corn, barley, or another grain, you’ll want to stop feeding it to her. And, do not offer any sugary or starchy treats. You can give her some Lucerne (alfalfa) cubes or pellets for a snack or treat.

The pasture is “richest,” meaning highest in sugar, during the afternoon and early evening, before the sun goes down. So, based on this, if you could bring her into a dry paddock during this time and offer her hay, and even a small flake of Lucerne with it, that would be better than the pasture grass.

Once you’re able to get back to riding her, you will see an improvement. But, she will likely always be prone toward gaining weight when not exercised.

I hope this is helpful. Thanks so much for writing about this important issue.

All the best,

Dr. Getty