Horse Fat vs. Fluid

Hormones, Nutrition, OverweightLeave a Comment

Is this horse fat?

Fat-HorseThis sweet Shetland pony, “Orangy” was on a diet.

Her owner, Jason, explained he rescued her two months ago.  “And dang was she fat!”  It’s incredible that people let their ponies get so fat.  She could have foundered or died!”

Jason went on to say, “We’ve had her on a diet.  She’s lost some weight, but we can’t get rid of her hay belly.”

But was she really fat?

How to tell “fat” vs. “fluid”

Here’s the big key:  you can’t tell just by looking.  You have to feel with your hands.

Feeling Orangy, her ribs could easily be felt.  Too easily.  You want to be able to feel the ribs through the skin and a light layer of fat.  It should be easy for you to find the ribs. Easy, but not obvious.  If the ribs are “jumping out at you”, or you “fall into a valley” in between each rib—too skinny.  Orange was too skinny. I know it’s shocking to see the picture of the “fat” pony and told she is skinny.  But it’s true.

If you have difficulty finding the ribs with your hands (again, not your eyeballs), the next question is:  is the “extra” fat or fluid?

When fat is actually fluid (aka water retention)

Recently I had a personal experience with this. For over four years, since the birth of my last child, I was battling weight gain. I just kept thinking I needed to eat right and exercise more. But no matter what I did, the pounds would not come off.

Long story later, I discovered that one of my heart valves had endocarditis. That meant that my heart wasn’t working right. It was like one of the “doors” of my heart wasn’t closing all the way. And with every pump, fluid was leaking out the “door” and being stored everywhere else in my body. In my muscles, in my subcutaneous tissue, in my fat itself, even in my internal organs.    Everywhere.

All my “fat”, was actually fluid build-up.

What causes horse fluid build-up

Many of the horses with a little “squish-able” layer are not actually fat. They have fluid build-up.

Why would they have that? There’s actually quite a few reasons.

Some possibilities are:

  • liver or kidney problems,
  • electrolyte imbalances,
  • hormonal imbalances such as low thyroid or Cushings dz.
  • toxin build-up (such as corn oil and GMOs, to name a few),
  • and mineral deficiencies.

Let’s say your horse looks fat.  Here’s the summary:

If you cannot feel your horse’s ribs easily (at the widest part of the barrel), then most likely your horse is fat.

If you can feel your horse’s ribs easily, then your horse is not fat.  It’s fluid buildup.  Your job is to find the cause of the fluid.

If your horse looks fat, but now you realize that it may be something else, check with your veterinarian or alternative medicine practitioner.

There’s always an answer.  Knowing the question is the key.

PS.  The pony in the picture was not fat.  Just pregnant.  :)

Want to align and heal horses?

Want to Align and Heal Horses? You Can!

We are looking for submissions for Dr. Tucker's "Featured Cases." If you have a puzzling case you want solved, we would love to post it to help others. Pictures needed, videos welcome. Email to Thank you.

Share This Post

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *