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The Horse Trust is continuing to lead an important initiative to reward healthy equine body condition and raise awareness of healthy body condition in show horses.

Our Healthiest Body Condition campaign in show rings was well received in 2019 and has now been rolled out again in 2021.

The initiative is supported by evidence obtained at the University of Liverpool by Behaviour Change Scientist Dr Tamzin Furtado who has developed the programme in partnership with The Horse Trust. The aim is to raise awareness of healthy equine body condition in showing and to encourage owners, riders and producers to recognize the health and welfare benefits of maintaining a healthy body condition. Showing in particular is often seen to promote horses who are overweight and our aim is to challenge and educate on what is an ideal body condition.

The programme targets both affiliated and unaffiliated shows up and down the country, providing friendly, supportive advice and guidance to owners, riders and producers, helping them to recognize the benefits of maintaining a healthy body condition.

Beginning at the start of July 2021, selected show classes in participating shows (listed below and constantly being added-to), are now assessing for body condition by a vet. The horses who have the healthiest body condition score will be awarded one of our special green and gold rosettes as a reward.

In running this programme we intend to be non-confrontational; our aim is to provide access to advice if required and encouragement for owners, riders and producers going forward. The plan is to continue rolling out the initiative in 2022 and well beyond.

The 2021 Participating Shows are:

11 July – Horsham District

13-16 July – Great Yorkshire

18 July – 34th APHS London Counties Horse Show

20-25 July – Royal International Horse Show, Hickstead

6-8 August – UK Nationals Summer Championships

29 August – Tumpy Green Annual Summer Show

11 September – Penistone Agricultural Society Show

26 September – Blue Lights Horse Show & Associated UK Services National Championships at Solihull Riding Club

The pilot programme for the initiative ran prior to the Covid-19 disruptions in 2019 and was very well received by competitors and professionals alike. David Ingle, Chairman of The Showing Council and Director of Showing at the Royal International Horse Show, Hickstead, said, “Showing is keen to become more educational and we are in an era of great improvement in equine welfare, with increasing scrutiny under social license.  This initiative will help to shine a light on this important aspect of showing.”

Tamzin Furtado says “Horses who are overweight or cresty are often celebrated for their condition – and we want to slightly challenge that, by celebrating horses in ideal body condition.” Fellow Liverpool University graduate and vet, Ben Curnow, MRCVS, who judged body condition as part of the 2019 pilot programme, added, “It’s not about being critical of or challenging the judges, just showcasing what ideal body condition looks like.”

The British Equine Veterinary Association considers equine obesity to be one of the highest-ranking equine health risks today.  The Horse Trust is working with a number of horse world bodies to come up with practical solutions to enable human behaviour around equine obesity to be changed for the better. Jan Rogers of The Horse Trust says, “We get very upset by seeing photos of underweight horses in the media, but in reality, far more horses are obese than are underweight. This is very worrying for vets who are finding that they have to treat these horses with serious health conditions like Equine Metabolic Syndrome and Laminitis. Peoples’ perceptions of what is a healthy weight have shifted towards the higher body condition scores. We would like to help to reset this balance”.

To follow this initiative keep an eye out on our social media platforms for #TheWeighToWin on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. On these channels we’ll be sharing more details including photos and comment from some of the winners.

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