Sustained, low-intensity exercise achieved by a dynamic feeding system decreases body fat in ponies

de Laat, M.A., Hampson, B.A., Sillence, M.N., & Pollitt, C.C. (2016) Sustained, low-intensity exercise achieved by a dynamic feeding system decreases body fat in ponies. Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine. (In Press)

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Obesity in horses is increasing in prevalence and can be associated with insulin insensitivity and laminitis. Current treatment strategies for obesity include dietary restriction and exercise. However, whether exercise alone is effective for decreasing body fat is uncertain.


Our hypothesis was that twice daily use of a dynamic feeding system for 3 months would induce sustained, low-intensity exercise thereby decreasing adiposity and improving insulin sensitivity (SI).


Eight, university-owned, mixed-breed, adult ponies with body condition scores (BCS) ≥5/9 were used.


Two treatments (“feeder on” or “feeder off”) were administered for a 3-month period by a randomized, crossover design (n = 4/treatment). An interim equilibration period of 6 weeks at pasture separated the 2 study phases. Measurements of body mass (body weight, BCS, cresty neck score [CrNS], and morphometry), body fat (determined before and after the “feeder on” treatment only), triglycerides, and insulin sensitivity (SI; combined glucose-insulin test) were undertaken before and after treatments.


The dynamic feeding system induced a 3.7-fold increase in the daily distance travelled (n = 6), compared to with a stationary feeder, which significantly decreased mean BCS (6.53 ± 0.94 to 5.38 ± 1.71), CrNS (2.56 ± 1.12 to 1.63 ± 1.06) and body fat (by 4.95%). An improvement in SI did not occur in all ponies.

Conclusions and Clinical Importance

A dynamic feeding system can be used to induce sustained (daily), low-intensity exercise that promotes weight loss in ponies. However, this exercise may not be sufficient to substantially improve SI.

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ID Code: 98937
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Keywords: Equine Metabolic Syndrome, Horse, Insulin, Obesity
DOI: 10.1111/jvim.14577
ISSN: 1939-1676
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES (060000) > PHYSIOLOGY (060600) > Comparative Physiology (060604)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > AGRICULTURAL AND VETERINARY SCIENCES (070000) > VETERINARY SCIENCES (070700) > Veterinary Medicine (070706)
Divisions: Current > Schools > School of Earth, Environmental & Biological Sciences
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Science & Engineering Faculty
  • MAF/D14EQ-813
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2016 The Authors
Copyright Statement: This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited and is not used for commercial purposes.
Deposited On: 20 Sep 2016 22:32
Last Modified: 21 Sep 2016 21:51

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