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For Equine Vets Everywhere

Fighting Back Against Equine Obesity: BEVA’s Next Steps

News BEVA News Ethics and Welfare Committee Obesity Council Project
29 Apr 2021 BEVA

At BEVA, we have been tackling equine obesity for a few years now, making existing information and resources accessible to all on the BEVA website, participating in industry-led discussions, and launching our first pilot for a project which seeks to increase engagement between vets and owners.  Lucy Grieve provides an update on what is happening next. 

I have spent the last six months bouncing ideas around with the ‘Queen of Equine Obesity’, Tamzin Furtado, and the BEVA Ethics and Welfare Committee. Through countless chats and Zoom meetings, we have sequentially filtered and processed the knowledge and experience we have, as vets, and tried to come up with a novel way in which we can tackle the issue.

One realisation that occurred was how no vet would go to a lameness and offer the owner the full list of potential treatments without at least attempting to whittle down the list of differentials. We would at least try to ascertain if this horse needs blocking, a poultice, x-rays, bute or all of the above. So why is obesity any different?

I use to reel off a list of management changes the owner must put into effect immediately, then skedaddle off in my car and leave them to it. Now, I chat at some length about the current management in place and try to identify red flags which require addressing.

There is no point telling Mrs Cobb to restrict grazing when she is at a livery yard where she has no control over the grazing set up. However, there are improvements to be made if she is feeding several buckets of feed a day, ad lib haylage and putting on a 400g rug. Nor can Mr Shetland do more feed-wise when the pony is already on a bare paddock and balancer only. But he could clip said pony out for the winter and avoid using rugs where possible.

And so BEVA has found itself at the beginning of a second pilot. We have evolved the sticker system from the first pilot, taking on board all the comments we received from the participants. I hope this pilot will provide all the necessary information to roll a BEVA scheme out to practices across the UK.

We know that there are vets out there fighting hard and successfully against the biggest threat to UK horse welfare, but there are apparently many more who find it easier, or even acceptable, to walk away from one of the most common causes of morbidity and mortality amongst our patients. If we can positively influence the behaviour of even a small percentage of equine vets then we have saved a significant portion of horses from suffering over the coming years.

Wouldn’t that be a wonderful thing for our profession?

From Superfoods to Supplements: How to Know More than the Owner - 7 July 2021

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