Categories: HAPPA Facts, Latest News650 words2.5 min read

It is no weigh to go


August 12, 2020



The vast majority of people underestimate their equine’s weight by 50-100kg! That is a significant amount, and it is believed that such under-estimations lead to obesity with 10% of the equine population affected.
A majority of equine owners, and ourselves here at HAPPA, use the method of a weigh tape around the horse’s girth area to provide an estimation of weight. However, there are some discrepancies in using such a method for all equines. The weigh tape unfortunately cannot factor in each horse’s breed and depth of girth line. Therefore, the weigh tape estimations vary between breed and build.
A weigh bridge would be an invaluable piece of equipment for our latest rescues, HAPPA Sunny, Sol and Samson, as well as all the other equines on site as it would provide an accurate weight for each one. It would be utilised continuously throughout each Rehabilitation Journey, from their time in Isolation up until they find their Forever Home.
Accuracy of weight is essential to monitor weight loss and gain, which is vital for Sunny, Samson and Sol to reduce the numerous health risks that they are currently predisposed to, due to their severe obesity. Their small Shetland skeletal frames were never designed to carry such an excess in weight. All their bones and joints will be under tremendous stress particularly that of the hoof, which consists of a very important bone called the pedal bone. The pedal bone is connected to the sensitive laminae tissue which is attached to the inside of the hoof wall. It is the laminae which supports the pedal bone and therefore enables the horse to weight bare upon its hooves. The involvement of these mechanisms can lead to one of the most extremely painful conditions of the equine hoof, laminitis, where the laminae becomes inflamed resulting in separation from the hoof wall, which when severe can cause the pedal bone to loose support and move. This pedal bone movement is termed as pedal bone rotation, which in chronic cases can result in the pedal bone dropping through the sole of the foot, it is at this stage that most equines unfortunately can never recover f and have to be euthanised in order to end their suffering.
90% of laminitis horses have other under lying hormonal issues which trigger the laminitis. One of the most common hormonal issues is Equine Metabolic Syndrome (EMS) which only effects obese horses. EMS is due to an insulin resistance, similar to human type 2 diabetes, just like human diabetics weight and diet are contributing factors. Horses suffering from EMS hold fat deposits on their neck, shoulder and tail.
The use of a weigh bridge would also be utilised for administration of wormers. By having the accurate weight we will be able to provide the exact dose of wormer to each equine, therefore limiting wormer resistance, which can occur due to under and over wormer administration. Some of the horses taken into HAPPA’s care do unfortunately suffer from high worm burdens upon their arrival into the Isolation Unit. All three of these cheeky chappies have confirmed extremely high worm burdens into the thousands with Sunny having the highest at over 2000!
The accurate weight monitoring will ensure that the weight loss is gradual so that it will not put any stress on the vital organs, particularly the digestive system. Any digestive stress can cause issues such as colic which is abdominal pain caused by a twisted gut or impaction. As well as diarrhoea from digestive upset.
Having a weigh bridge for these little guys will enable us to taylor each of their Rehabilitation Programmes. The accurate weights will be used to provide precise weight control, muscle gain, nutritional regimes and worming programmes. Having the correct amount of each element of the Programme is key to a successful Rehabilitation to enable them to go on to find their Forever Homes.