A YORK veterinary practice is warning owners of a growing obesity crisis that is risking the lives of horses.

Minster Veterinary Equine Clinic is seeing more and more overweight horses and ponies at its practice in Northfield Lane, Poppleton, York.

Like humans, obesity is putting the wellbeing and health of horses at serious risk.

Overweight horses are at increased risk of laminitis, a potentially fatal condition caused by blood flow restriction to the hooves, which causes pain and inflammation.

They can also suffer a condition known as Equine Metabolic Syndrome, which is linked to insulin resistance and laminitis, while being overweight also places unnecessary strain on a horse’s joints.

To tackle the issue, Minster Equine Clinic is now offering weight clinics at the practice or at stable yards, where vets and veterinary nurses will assess horses and advise on diet, nutrition, exercise and care.

The practice also has special weighing scales that horses can stand on to check their weight.

Emma Tolliday, head veterinary nurse and a co-clinical director at Minster Veterinary Equine Clinic in York, said obesity is the biggest threat to the health of horses in and around York.

Emma said: “We are seeing more and more overweight horses and ponies at the clinic and it is becoming a big concern.

“Owners are risking their horse’s health because many common ailments are directly linked to being overweight. We have both pleasure horses and competition horses brought to us because owners are concerned about lameness or their performance. This can be as a result of being overweight because they are over-fed or not having enough exercise.

“Now is the time for owners to do something about their horse’s weight because it is dangerous for horses to be going into spring overweight. Spring grass can trigger laminitis because it is so high in sugar.

“I think the main problem is that owners are not adjusting the amount of feed to reduced work their horses are doing over the winter, and they are being over-fed.”