BEVA said that equine obesity is indisputably one of the biggest threats to equine welfare in the UK and, as a result, it is ramping up its efforts to help vets and owners recognise and address the problem in the right way.
The Association has launched a second phase pilot project to help increase engagement with vets and owners on the topic, including a video on how best to tackle the topic of talking to owners about equine obesity.
BEVA president Lucy Grieve said: “Equine obesity may not be a huge issue for those working with racehorses and elite sports horses, but for those of us working with almost all other members of the UK equine population it is an all too familiar encounter.
“Approaching the conversation about a horse’s weight with an owner can be difficult; sometimes what we say is not what the other person hears but by making small changes in how we word things can have a big impact.”
Last summer’s pilot scheme used a traffic light colour system of vaccination reminder stickers which vets placed on the front of passports at each vaccination appointment, however, this has been simplified for further trials.
The updated scheme involves vets issuing a black or white sticker during a vaccination visit, relating to the horse or pony’s current weight. The QR coded sticker directs owners to a series of five short videos providing practical advice on ways to manage or reduce their horse’s weight by looking at hard feed, exercise, grazing, hay and rugging.
Ms Grieve added: “Using a less direct method of communication such as this seems to make it more comfortable for owners to recognise and accept that their horse is overweight. This should be the kickstart they need to embark on a supported path of rehabilitating their horse to a healthy body condition.
“Obesity is a ticking time bomb, and we all need to work together to avert the crisis. By initiating conversations in the right way, we can help owners recognise and maintain a healthy body condition for their beloved horses and ponies. In so doing we should be able to significantly reduce the many serious obesity-related health problems – surely this is the biggest motivator for all of us to engage with this project.”