Despite regular exercising and balanced feeding, does your horse still look like he or she is in need of a “tummy tuck?” If you’ve ruled out post-colic surgery effects, parasites, and broodmare belly as the cause of the large gut, then it’s likely your horse has a nutritional imbalance. We’ve outlined answers to common questions so you can identify, treat, and prevent a hay belly in your horse.
Q: How can I tell if my horse has a hay belly?
A: A hay belly is typically easy to recognize in young and mature horses alike. A hay-bellied colt or filly displays a big belly while the rest of their body looks small. A mature horse will often have a midsection that hangs low, yet their ribs are visible, and they will lack defined muscling across their hindquarters.
These obvious signs are a good start to identifying hay belly, but you should also conduct a regular body condition score on your horse to check muscle mass and appropriate fat deposition. Keep in mind that it’s important to check all areas of your horse’s body, including his neck, withers, back, ribs, shoulder, and tailhead. A rib and belly check alone don’t provide all the answers.