Most people will watch their horse’s weight fluctuate throughout the year despite their best efforts to maintain a constant weight. However, Rupert has been weighed by professionals on 3 separate occasions, and the results range by 100kg!
Rupert has always been a chunky cob standing at approximately 15.1/15.2hh (one of my jobs this summer is to measure him properly!), but he became very ill just 3 months after I bought him. He had an issue with his liver (although the problem was never diagnosed, he had symptoms matching atypical myopathy aka sycamore seed poisoning) and his weight and muscle just seemed to drop overnight. He was weighed just 2 weeks after his health became more stable, where he weighed 492kg. And quite frankly, he looked awful. It looked like the life had been sucked out of him and his muscles had just vanished, especially over his quarters.
He gradually began to put his weight back on, but by summer, he had definitely but too much back on! A combination of 2 weeks off due to my summer holiday and having to move into a field with plenty of grass proved to be a problem in the weight department, despite having soaked hay when he came back into his stable during the day.
When he moved yards, there was a 2 week quarantine period. Now my plan was to hack him around the village and lunge him in the field he was staying in as it was fairly flat. I attempted to lunge him for the first time and ended up being dragged along as he decided to gallop up the field and promptly decided that I wouldn’t even try to hack him until I could school him for a few days as I didn’t have a death wish! So, another 2 weeks off work for Rupert.
However, when he finally moved up to the yard after his quarantine period, he was the fattest he’d ever been. Not morbidly obese, but definitely something that could not be ignored. When the weigh scales came to the yard just a few weeks after I’d arrived, I was shocked to find out that Rupert now weighed 595kg. He’d gained a whole 100kg. Yes, when he was first weighed he was poorly and he was now at his heaviest, but I was still shocked. It just goes to show how quickly it can pile on!
So I decided Rupert had to go on boot camp. With 2 jobs and on my final year of A-Levels, as well as trying to see my friends and not ditch them for the horse (they know who is my favourite anyway!), it can be hard to find time to ride him every day. I aimed to exercise him 5 or 6 days a week, and on the days I didn’t have time to ride, I always popped him on the lunge for 15 minutes just to burn a few extra calories. When I can, we go on hacks with Haylie when she takes the hunters out, so we both come back sweating and rather tired as we try to keep up with the very fit hunting horses. I’d often go down to the yard in the evening and ride before it got dark, meaning that I was ready to leave at 5.30 once I’d mucked out and done all of my jobs as well as ride. Knowing that Rupert scoffs his haynet, I can’t bear the thought of leaving him at 5.30 and being certain that’ll his net will be finished by 6.30 and he’ll be stood for the rest of the night without any food. Luckily, the yard is so close to my house that I gave him a tiny net with small holes when I left my the yard to pass him over, then I’d go back at 7.30 to give him more hay that was double netted and his dinner comprising of a handful of Spillers Happy Hoof Molasses Free and Spillers Daily Balancer.
And this is the result:
He was weighed just last week and he’s lost 55kg since the last weigh bridge visit. There’s still a way to go with his fitness and as he’ll be living out 24/7 very soon, I’m going to have to watch his weight very careful. I’ll have plenty more time to ride soon though- that’s what study leave is for, right?!
For any equine dietary advice, I can’t recommend Spillers Care-Line enough!