Publication Date

Spring 2020

Advisor(s) - Committee Chair

William Strunk (Director), Fred DeGraves, Bruce Schulte and Jim Koostra

Degree Program

Department of Agriculture and Food Science

Degree Type

Master of Science


The health of the horse is of interest to animal caretakers. Horses that fall within a prescribed range of bodyweight and body condition may be healthier than horses that are lower or higher. Two studies were conducted related to body weight and condition of the horse. The first study examined if restricting the amount of space available for horses to graze could reduce bodyweight without having a strong impact on time budgets of the horse or removing horses from pasture. This method was determined to be effective in preventing weight gain, although there was an increase in grazing behavior displayed by the horses in restricted conditions. The second study surveyed a herd of geriatric rescue horses (n=143) in Northern Florida in early August to determine the prevalence of horses outside of the normal range of body condition scores (BCS)) and the prevalence of horses that display symptoms of metabolic diseases. This second study investigated if BCS of different ranges and number of symptoms of the metabolic disease pituitary pars intermedia dysfunction (PPID) could be correlated for assisting horse owners in recognizing the wellbeing of their horse. The geriatric herd had a significant portion of underweight horses and symptoms of PPID were found. The mean BCS of all horses and of all breeds with n>10 individuals were within the ideal range, meaning that maintaining a healthy bodyweight in geriatric horses is possible. A strong correlation was not evident between number of PPID symptoms and high or low BCS. A different method of examination may be more effective for owners to determine the likelihood of metabolic disorders in the horse. The results of these studies could assist in the care of horses by promoting a low maintenance weight management and a potential method for recognizing disease.


Agriculture | Animal Sciences | Other Animal Sciences