Morbidly obese ponies embark on a long-term slimming journey

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Bombay on arrival at Belwade farm. He weighed 610 kg. © World Horse Welfare

Months of care and recovery have paid off for four ponies who were placed in the care of Belwade Farm, World Horse Welfare’s rescue and placement center in Aberdeenshire, after their owner admitted she had a hard time taking care of them.

Following the death of the owner’s partner, who had been the primary caretaker of the ponies, World Horse Welfare was contacted and the four ponies, including Bombay and Chancer, were taken to Belwade. All four faced several wellness issues, including poor feet and parasitic burdens, and all were morbidly obese.

Being overweight is often overlooked as a well-being issue, but being overweight exposes horses to several problems, such as laminitis, an excruciatingly painful and potentially fatal disease, as well as tremendous extra strain on their joints. . Any horse entering one of the charity’s rescue and placement centers will need a long, slow rehab, and if overweight it can take several months.

Bombay, a beautiful little five-year-old ear, weighed 610 kg when he arrived and had to lose the equivalent of two adult humans before he could be considered a healthy weight. Professional teams at the center assess each pony and a weight loss program is developed with restricted, low calorie forage based foods as well as an exercise program which, in the early stages of weight loss, should be very soft to allow the joints to tolerate. this.

After months of gradual weight loss, rehabilitation and learning basic handling and good manners – essential for these ponies to be successfully welcomed – Max and Fontelroy are now happy to be welcomed together.

Bombay has recently been taken in as a companion and Chancer, having returned to Belwade following his rehomer’s changed circumstances, is currently recovering from a small operation. It is hoped that once he has fully recovered he will be available for placement again.

Eileen Gillen, director of the Belwade Center, said that in many ways overweight horses are more difficult to manage than those who are underweight.

“It’s a real challenge to help them lose weight and increase their mobility. Weight loss is crucial but should be done slowly and carefully and it is likely that these ponies will need careful nutrition for the rest of their lives.

“Plus Bombay and Chancer, like so many ponies entering, weren’t used to being handled, and the beefy stallions will use their weight whenever they don’t want to cooperate. It’s a real testament to the teams here that these ponies came so quickly and accepted the handling and the learned manners, which allows us to help them more easily, but also to ensure a future for them.

Bombay weighed 610 kg when it arrived at Belwade Farm.
Bombay weighed 610 kg when it arrived at Belwade Farm. © World Horse Welfare

The skilled and dedicated teams from Belwade and the three other World Horse Welfare centers in Lancashire, Norfolk and Somerset, help around 300 horses and ponies each year and the above video from Chancer and Bombay shows just how much care and hard work gets done. an incredible transformation, but it is not possible without public support.

Although the centers reopened to the public in mid-August, they had been closed for 18 months due to the Covid-19 pandemic, but farm staff continued to welcome, care for and rehabilitate horses despite declining income by 20%. over the past year.

It takes months of effort to lose weight in obese horses.  Bombay is now a healthy weight.
It takes months of effort to lose weight in obese horses. Bombay is now a healthy weight. © World Horse Welfare

Recovery and rehabilitation can take several months and involve a whole team of grooms and specialists before the horses and ponies are healthy and ready to be taken in.

»Find out more about the work of the World Horse Rescue teams Rescue and relocation centers, and find out more about the charity “Sponsor a stable” program.

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