A MALTON equine veterinary practice is warning owners of a growing obesity crisis that is risking their horses’ health and wellbeing.

Rainbow Equine Hospital said it is seeing more and more overweight horses and ponies, and vets say obesity is the gravest threat facing horses, with hundreds being put down across the UK every year.

Overweight horses are at risk of laminitis, a potentially fatal condition caused by blood flow restriction to the hooves.

Mandy Platt, of the hospital, said: “It is becoming a big concern. Overweight has become a new normal and some horse owners no longer appreciate what a healthy horse should look like.

“We advise owners to monitor their horse’s weight regularly and seek veterinary advice if they are unsure.”

As well as the risk of laminitis, being overweight can put unnecessary strain on a horse’s joints, particularly older animals with conditions like arthritis.

Rainbow is urging owners to take action now to help their horses to lose weight, before spring grass begins to appear.

Mandy added: “It is important that owners do something about their horse’s weight now because it is dangerous for horses to go out on lush spring grass when they are overweight due to the risk of laminitis.

“One of the key concerns is that owners are not adjusting the amount of feed to reduced exercise their horses are getting over the winter, so they are simply being over-fed.”

North Yorkshire owners can sign up for a free plan at Rainbow, which includes monitoring sheets and weight tapes.

Mandy runs weight clinics offering advice, and there is also a private Facebook group for those taking part so owners can support each other.