Equine body condition: Horse owners’ perceptions

Activity: Talk or presentation typesOral presentation at Conference


Equine obesity is a growing cause for concern in the equestrian sector. Indeed, in some equine populations, obesity is reported to be so common that it has become a cultural norm. Overweight horses and ponies have an increased risk of impaired athletic performance, thermal stress, disease related to increased loading of the joints, laminitis and colic. In humans, the World Health Organisation recognise ‘globesity’, the increasing number of overweight and obese humans, as a major physical and psychological challenge to good health. This raises the question, with increasing equine and human obesity levels, are horse owners equipped to identify healthy body condition in the horse. A simple online survey, distributed via Facebook™, presented participants with two images: A) visibly underweight Thoroughbred-type horse; B) visibly overweight cross-breed horse. Respondents were asked to 1) select which horse they considered unhealthy based on their body condition: A, B, both, neither, or not sure, and 2) would they be more concerned about one of these animals than the other: A, B, both, neither, or not sure. Demographic information on which equestrian disciplines respondents participated in, role in the equestrian industry, and country of residence were collected. Frequency analysis and Kruskal-Wallis analyses with post-hoc Mann Whitney-U tests identified if differences occurred in respondent ratings by discipline, role and location. Most respondents thought both horses were unhealthy (66%; n=2335), 30% (n=1056) considered horse B most unhealthy, 1% (n=37) horse A and 3% (n=93) felt neither were of concern, 10 respondents were not sure. Similarly, more respondents (67%, n=67%) were concerned for horse B, than horse A (4%, n=139), both horses (28%, n=997), or neither (0.2%, n=11); 8 respondents were not sure. No differences in unhealthy rating were reported by discipline, but differed by country (p=0.0004), with more British (GB) respondents (12-14%; p
PeriodAug 2022
Event title18th International Society for Equitation Science Conference
Event typeConference
LocationGloucester, United KingdomShow on map