Prevalence of and risk factors for equine obesity in Great Britain based on owner-reported body condition scores

Robin, C. A., Ireland, J. L., Wylie, C. E., Collins, S. N., Verheyen, K. L. P. and Newton, J. R. (2015) Prevalence of and risk factors for equine obesity in Great Britain based on owner-reported body condition scores. Equine Veterinary Journal, 47 2: 196-201. doi:10.1111/evj.12275

Author Robin, C. A.
Ireland, J. L.
Wylie, C. E.
Collins, S. N.
Verheyen, K. L. P.
Newton, J. R.
Title Prevalence of and risk factors for equine obesity in Great Britain based on owner-reported body condition scores
Journal name Equine Veterinary Journal   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 2042-3306
Publication date 2015-03
Year available 2014
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1111/evj.12275
Open Access Status
Volume 47
Issue 2
Start page 196
End page 201
Total pages 6
Place of publication Hoboken NJ, United States
Publisher John Wiley & Sons
Collection year 2015
Language eng
Formatted abstract
Reasons for performing the study

Few data are available on the prevalence of obesity in the general equine population of Great Britain (GB), and its associated risk factors.


To estimate the prevalence of owner-reported obesity in veterinary-registered horses and ponies in GB, and identify factors associated with obesity.

Study design

A cross-sectional survey of horse/pony owners in GB was undertaken using a postal questionnaire.


Thirty veterinary practices randomly selected horse/pony owners to complete a self-administered postal questionnaire. Owners estimated body condition score using a modified Carroll and Huntington method (1–6 scale), and animals were classified as obese if they were scored as either 5 (fat) or 6 (very fat). Factors associated with obesity were assessed using logistic regression analysis.


Prevalence of obesity was 31.2% (n = 247/792; 95% confidence interval [CI] 27.9–34.2%). Factors associated with increased odds of obesity were breed (P<0.001), ease of maintaining weight (P<0.001) and primary use (P = 0.002). Compared to Thoroughbreds, draught-type (odds ratio [OR] 7.3; 95% CI 3.1–17.1), cob-type (OR 5.6; 95% CI 2.5–12.5), native (OR 3.2; 95% CI 1.8–5.78) and Welsh breeds (OR 3.5; 95% CI 1.9–6.2) were more likely to be obese. Animals described as ‘good doers’ were more likely to be obese than those described as readily maintaining normal weight (OR 3.7; 95% CI 2.6–5.3). Compared to competition animals, animals used for pleasure riding (OR 2.5; 95% CI 1.4–4.4) and nonridden animals (OR 2.9; 95% CI 1.5–5.5) were more likely to be obese.


Identification of at-risk breeds and other horse- and management-level risk factors for obesity will enable optimal targeting of owner education regarding management strategies to reduce the frequency of equine obesity.
Keyword Horse
Condition score
Risk factors
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ
Additional Notes Published online ahead of print 22 May 2014

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Official 2015 Collection
School of Veterinary Science Publications
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Citation counts: TR Web of Science Citation Count  Cited 8 times in Thomson Reuters Web of Science Article | Citations
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