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. Nov-Dec 2012;26(6):1413-8.
doi: 10.1111/j.1939-1676.2012.00995.x. Epub 2012 Sep 4.

Prevalence of Overconditioning in Mature Horses in Southwest Virginia During the Summer

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Prevalence of Overconditioning in Mature Horses in Southwest Virginia During the Summer

C D Thatcher et al. J Vet Intern Med. .
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Background: The prevalence of obesity in horses in the eastern United States is not well documented.

Objective: To determine body condition and risk factors for obesity in horses in Southwest Virginia during summer.

Animals: A sample of 300 mature (4-20 years old), light breed horses (140 mares, 151 geldings, and 9 stallions) from the VMRCVM Equine Field Service practice equine database. The horses were from 114 farms and 138 owners.

Methods: Horses were evaluated over a 60-day period in this cross-sectional, prospective study. A questionnaire was completed for each horse. Body condition score (BCS) was assigned using a scale of 1 (emaciated) to 9 (obese) by 2 independent scorers. Morphometric measurements included average neck circumference (ANC), girth, body length, and height at the withers. Horses were categorized based on BCS as underconditioned (BCS < 4), optimal condition (BCS 4-6), overconditioned (BCS 7), and obese condition (BCS 8-9).

Results: Five horses (1.7%) were underconditioned, 142 horses (47.3%) were optimally conditioned, 97 horses (32.3%) were overconditioned, and 56 (18.7%) were obese. Estimated body weight (EBW) (r = 0.14, P = .015), body mass index (BMI) (r = 0.46, P < .001), and neck circumference to height ratio (NCHR) (r = 0.50, P = .001) increased with increasing BCS.

Conclusions and clinical importance: The prevalence of overconditioned and obese horses in this population was higher than reported in previous studies and indicates that obesity might be an emerging problem in horses.

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