BEVA addresses difficult conversations about equine obesity - Veterinary Practice
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BEVA addresses difficult conversations about equine obesity

The Association has launched a second phase pilot project to help increase engagement with vets and owners on the topic

Equine obesity is indisputably
one of the biggest threats to equine welfare in the UK and BEVA is ramping up
its efforts to help vets and owners recognise and address the problem in the
right way. The Association has launched a second phase pilot project to help
increase engagement with vets and owners on the topic, including a video on how
best to tackle the topic of talking to owners about equine obesity.

“Equine obesity may not be a
huge issue for those working with racehorses and elite sports horses, but for
those of us working with almost all other members of the UK equine population
it is an all too familiar encounter,” said BEVA President Lucy Grieve.
“Approaching the conversation about a horse’s weight with an owner can be
difficult; sometimes what we say is not what the other person hears but by
making small changes in how we word things can have a big impact.”

BEVA has been tackling equine obesity for
several years now, recognising that veterinary professionals are in a unique
and privileged position to support owners. This year the Association has teamed up with Tamzin Furtado, a social scientist at
the University of Liverpool with a background in global health, and a specific
interest on how human behaviour change can improve the management of obesity in
horses, to provide advice and guidance on having difficult conversations about
equine obesity.

In addition, last summer’s pilot scheme using
a traffic light colour system of vaccination reminder stickers which vets can
place on the front of passports at each vaccination appointment has been
simplified for further trials.

The updated scheme involves vets issuing a
black or white sticker during a vaccination visit, relating to the horse or
pony’s current weight. The QR coded sticker directs owners to a series of five
short videos providing practical advice on ways to manage or reduce their
horse’s weight by looking at hard feed, exercise, grazing, hay and rugging.

“Using a less direct method of communication
such as this seems to make it more comfortable for owners to recognise and
accept that their horse is overweight,” said Lucy. “This should be the
kickstart they need to embark on a supported path of rehabilitating their horse
to a healthy body condition.”

New online support for vets centres on a
compelling short video from Tamin Furtardo “The elephant in the room: How to
address the topic of obesity in horses”, as well as relevant research and
CPD courses. Additional resources include a body condition scoring chart, a
weight management guide and a ‘What you say is not always what they hear’
poster, together with access to relevant research and CPD.

BEVA’s equine obesity page is accessible to
BEVA members online.

“Obesity is a ticking time bomb,” said Lucy,
“and we all need to work together to avert the crisis. By initiating
conversations in the right way, we can help owners recognise and maintain a
healthy body condition for their beloved horses and ponies. In so doing we
should be able to significantly reduce the many serious obesity-related health
problems – surely this is the biggest motivator for all of us to engage with
this project.”

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