Tuesday, April 2, 2013 - Mark Humph Mark Humph


It seems that some breeds just want to stay thin while others are much less willing to part with their surplus pounds. A new study has confirmed that different breeds have different capacities for weight loss, with Standardbred horses losing condition much more readily than Andalusians or ponies. The findings will help to improve the effectiveness and safety of weight loss programmes in the future.


The study, Comparison of weight loss, with or without dietary restriction and exercise, in Standardbreds, Andalusians and mixed breed ponies1, was conducted by the University of Melbourne's Faculty of Veterinary Science in Australia, in collaboration with the WALTHAM® Equine Studies Group. It will be presented at the Equine Science Symposium, New Mexico in May 2013.


Twelve obese animals, comprising four Standardbreds, four ponies and four Andalusians, all with body condition scores (BCS) of 7-9 out of 9, were initially kept on ad lib hay for 20 weeks and then fed individually on a restricted diet of 1.25% bodyweight of hay for up to 12 weeks. Two from each breed group were exercised daily on a horse walker. Dietary restriction was stopped when each horse reached a BCS of 5, which occurred between 4-6 weeks in the Standardbred group. However, even after the full 12 weeks of dietary restriction, the ponies only dropped from a BCS of 7.1 to 5.9 and the Andalusians from 6 to 5.2.


Clare Barfoot RNutr and the research and development manager at SPILLERS® said: "The ponies and Andalusians retained condition on ad-libitum hay and were relatively resistant to body fat loss even when hay was reduced to 1.25% body weight. Daily exercise also didn't have much impact on these two groups. However, the Standardbreds lost significant amounts of weight and body condition when maintained just on ad-lib hay and subsequently lost weight much more rapidly on the restricted diet. Further work is planned to find out whether these breed variations are related to insulin sensitivity or other hormonal differences."


1Comparison of weight loss, with or without dietary restriction and exercise, in Standardbreds, Andalusians and mixed breed ponies: S.J. Potter, N.J. Bamford, and S.R. Bailey, Faculty of Veterinary Science, The University of Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, P.A. Harris, Equine Studies Group, WALTHAM Centre for Pet Nutrition, Leicestershire, UK

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