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Weight Loss - Neens Carrie

Weight gain is a big problem in a number of lives whether it's people's own weight or the weight of their animals. There are so many complications that come with being overweight so for the past few years, Carrie and I have been striving to reach the perfect weight.

When Carrie was in her first home, she was only a yearling so weight was never something I worried too much about. She was fed every day and had haynets whenever brought in. I was only young so was under the supervision of adults who were instructing me what she should be fed. What I didn't realise, is that she was becoming fat. Only when Carrie went to her next home, did I see how wrong I was.

In her second home, she was free to roam almost 75 acres of land and therefore, didn't need any hay. I think the person taking care of her would occasionally feed them hard feed on the colder nights. I can't even begin to explain how different she looked. Carrie was the ideal weight and because of the land she could roam, her muscles were defined and she looked perfect.

Now, when it was time to bring her closer to me, again, I followed the advice of those who were in charge of the property. That's not to say that I couldn't do my own thing, I just didn't know any better. The land was a lot smaller so they couldn't exercise but it also meant the grass was restricted. In order to compensate, they would have hay (they being Carrie and Donkey).

We would ask the livery for hay and they would bring us a large round bale of hay. Originally, Carrie and Donkey were in a shared field with others but eventually, they were on their own but they were still getting a big round bale, all to themselves. After finishing university, I decided to take matters into my own hands as Carrie and Donkey were so fat. Like the cartoon where the animals are totally round...

Firstly, we stopped with the round bales and brought in small bales. I tried leaving the small bales out but they would ruin most of it and it'd be gone within a day or two. We then put out a few sections in the morning or evening. However, at one point, they were losing too much weight too quickly and had lost most of their muscle because of the lack of exercise over the winter.

This past year, it feels like we finally found the right recipe for them. Firstly, I contacted the vet to see what weight Carrie should be. Secondly, I make sure to weigh her every day with a weight tape to make sure that she isn't losing too much weight. They still get hay in the morning and in the evening, but as we came out of winter, the amount they were given was reduced. They are both fed low-calorie feed balancer to make sure they get the nutrients they need.

Every horse is different and it takes time to find what works for you. My biggest motivator was her physical fitness. Being overweight worsens arthritis but it also meant she wouldn't be able to build the right kind of muscle. Thankfully both Carrie and Donkey now seem happy and healthy, even if they are still a little overexcited for food. But then again, who isn't?

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