TWH - high/hollow withers, bad topline, thin, narrow back? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 71 Old 06-14-2014, 01:58 AM Thread Starter
Join Date: Oct 2012
Location: Kentucky
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TWH - high/hollow withers, bad topline, thin, narrow back?

I'm trying to figure out how to get my TWH looking better.
He's a 6 year old gelding.

I can't tell if he just has high/hollow withers, if he's too thin, if he has a underdeveloped topline and a narrow back, all of the above, or something else entirely.
For reference, he is by a Generator stallion out of a Pusher mare, if those bloodlines are more prone to any particular problems in this area.

He did drop off some weight over the winter, but he's gained it all back, based on looks. I don't have before and after weight measurements to know for certain.
We did an extra deworming, tried a weight builder, changed his feed, and had his teeth floated so that got it taken care of.

His current diet is pasture 24/7, and 6ish cups of All Stock feed daily.
We also keep Ultium Growth for our pregnant mare, so I could mix that in.
The All Stock is 12% protein, 2.5% fat, 18% fiber.
The Ultium is 15.5% protein, 9.5% fat, 13% fiber.

Also, he hasn't been ridden at all since last year, and it's been longer since he's been ridden consistently.

The shadow in the photo of his right side makes his neck look thin, but it's not. There should be 6 photos attached giving almost an all-around view.


Also, someone (not on this forum) recently cussed my out for his "condition," so... I've been reluctant to post photos and ask for advice, but I feel like this is a good, supportive community.
I just want "grown-up" input on if this is a weight, muscle, or conformation issue.
Thanks :)
Attached Images
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File Type: jpg withers 2.jpg (24.4 KB, 337 views)
File Type: jpg withers 3.jpg (25.6 KB, 336 views)
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File Type: jpg withers 5.jpg (23.2 KB, 327 views)
File Type: jpg withers 6.jpg (25.6 KB, 329 views)
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post #2 of 71 Old 06-14-2014, 07:45 AM
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: Middle Tennessee
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I have a Generator-bred gelding. He is now 20 and has been with me 17-1/2 years. He was a lanky athletic built/high hipped horse until two years ago. Now he is teetering on the verge of having insulin issues.

I once had a solid Pusher-bred gelding and there was nothing lanky about him so, I think the lanky tendency comes more from Pride's Generator than The Pusher C.G.

Meaning, while you should be thankful he tends to be a lanky bean pole, your horse appears to have some health issues (assuming those pics were taken in May/June of this year).

1. How current are those pictures? If they're within the past 8 weeks, he's not shedding like he should be. My first guess is he needs wormed.

IF he is so wormy so as to not allow proper shedding and weight gain, please do not worm him without taking stool samples to the vet.

If he is suffering a worm overload, you could easily send him into major colic, just by the simple procedure we all use. The vet would need to guide you as to what kind of wormer and how much at one dose.

1.1 Patchy shedding like in the picture is also indicative of Cushings. Even though horses as young as yours can develop Cushings, it is not at all common.

2. Teeth could be an issue.

3. Wrong feed could be an issue.

4. Wrong type of exercise or lack of same could be an issue.

But I am still back on the fact that I think he needs wormed, under a vet's guidance.

Once a vet has given him a physical, still plan on him being lanky as that is who he is. If you feed him to get rid of those high hips, he will be too fat. I used to look at Rusty and shake my head because there was plenty of meat on his barrel; now he's bordering metabolic, is over weight, and I'd give anything to see those high hips again.

Hope this helps some.

P.S. what's in the feed pan? If it's sweet feed, ditch it "yesterday". Also, when you feed, are the horses separated? If not and the other horse is stealing his feed when you're not looking, that's another major reason for him being so thin.

To reiterate and be honest (since you asked), if those are very current pictures, he is not healthy looking and really does need a visit from your vet:)

A Good Horseman Doesn't Have To Tell Anyone; The Horse Already Knows.

Last edited by walkinthewalk; 06-14-2014 at 07:51 AM.
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post #3 of 71 Old 06-14-2014, 07:53 AM
Green Broke
Join Date: Nov 2011
Location: Mountains of NH
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Get rid of the All Stock. That horse's coat is showing signs of bad nutrition. How much hay or grass does he get? He is a little thin.
Not cussing you out. I went through it with that feed. My husband dragged about 20 bags of it home once when tractor supply first came to the area. It didn't take long for my old gelding to drop off weight and look like that. He had always been a really easy keeper. I couldn't figure out why he looked so bad so fast. He was already in advanced old age so I was thinking it was just time. It only took 5 or 6 bags of the stuff before he started looking thin with a poor coat. It was late winter, early spring so his coat when from golden Palomino to faded champagne with lots of scruffy winter hairs not shedding. Then I got really comparing and reading feed tags. Same thing was noted in my pony, her coat looked scruffy though she remained plump.
Changed the feed and my round shiny horses were back rather rapidly.

Go with a feed made for horses. Dumor does no good for them. That horse is 6 yrs old. He's in the best years of his life. Shouldn't be any sharp angles or boney spots. He's got winter hairs still stuck on him like my 39 yr old is only just starting to do.

The rest of my all stock got mixed in with my pigs feed. The chickens didn't want it. Tried.
His top line will come back with better nutrition. Once he has gained a bit more regular riding will make it even better.

It honestly doesn't much matter what brand of feed you choose. Nutrena, Purina, there are a lot of good ones that are national brands and a lot of local mills that put out a good product. You are going to have to read the tags and directions for feeding on the bag and tailor it a bit to your horse. If you aren't feeding somewhere close to what the bag is recommending then you are going to be shorting him on nutrition. Some horses are going to need a little less, some a little more. Lots of good clean hay and he will look like a million bucks in no time.

Pure speculation and that's all it is because all I see are a few pictures....The coarse faded hairs and the bleaching of his mane near the ends are saying copper deficiency. Which would be very plausible feeding all stock. The copper used in horse feeds would be fatal to sheep. They have to leave it out. Copper shortage starts a domino effect shorting the horse on selenium and that will start interfering with the uptake of other nutrients. All interconnected.

Feed designed for cows, sheep, pigs and horses just doesn't work. Their nutritional needs are different. Off the top of my head...sheep can't have any added copper in their hard feed. Horses need some. There are other feed differences.
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post #4 of 71 Old 06-14-2014, 07:59 AM
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Walkin, All stock is a dumor feed made to feed all kinds of farm animals. It is on the sweet side to make it palatable I think. I remember it being a bit sticky. Nasty stuff, few horses would do well on it.

I think she said he was just recently wormed but I think if he were mine I'd wait a week or two and hit him with some Equimax at a double dose. But mostly I think it's that feed. My easy keepers looked terrible on it and in really a very short time. They also recovered very quickly once I dumped it to the pigs.
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post #5 of 71 Old 06-14-2014, 08:06 AM
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You have a thin horse. We've dealt with several over the years (rescues and purchases and some who got sick).

First, feed the horse more. You've given a very sparse explanation of the horse's diet.

You don't indicate where you are. You don't show us the pasture the horse is on. If the pasture is poor then the horse will be poor. It is what it eats. In the spring early grass is mostly water; it takes several weeks for a stand to develop a good nutrition profile. Then it must be properly trimmed to maintain a good profile. Call your County Agent. They will tell you how to get your grass tested to find out whether or not it is sufficiently nutritious.

If your grass is lacking then buy some good quality hay and feed that until you get your pasture into shape.

Horses eat by weight, not volume. How much does your six cups of All Stock Feed weigh? A quick look at this feed leaves me with many questions. Do they really claim you can feed the same stuff to horses and rabbits successfully? Personally, I think not. I'd dump this stuff and go get a quality 12% horse feed. Stick with good names like Purina, Southern States, etc. Weigh how much you give them. Start with 1.5% of body weight and see what happens. If you see a gain then you're OK. If you don't then increase the amount.

A deworming program per vet instructions is in order. The best feed in the world will be of limited utility if all you're doing is feeding parasites.

After a couple of weeks of feeding after deworming start an exercise program. Keep it light to begin with and limited to ground work on the longe or in the round pen. Once you begin to work you might notice that weight gain will slow some. If it does then add a bit more grain.

It's going to take several months of work to bring this horse back into proper condition. But remember the mantra of Col. Alois Podhajsky (former Riding Master at the Spanish Riding School of Vienna): I have time.

Good luck in your project.

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post #6 of 71 Old 06-14-2014, 12:14 PM
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Horse Nutrition Explained

Tried to find that page earlier for you but I'm so bloomin' organized...
It's not as technical and long winded as a lot of pages are. Just goes through the basic kinds of feeds and needs. Good starting point.
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post #7 of 71 Old 06-14-2014, 02:08 PM
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If he were my horse, after teeth and worming had been taken care of, because he's over 5, I'd start him on 2lbs of Senior 2x daily for a week and then if you can add a third feeding of 2 lb. or up it to 3 lbs 2x daily. Reassess in about a month to six weeks. I also would add about a cup of whole oats. If there's no improvement, even small differences after 30 days he may need to be checked for ulcers. Senior pellets contain beet pulp for weight gain and extra oils amongst other good things. Never feed an all animal feed as they have different nutrient needs. Provide plenty of loose salt, a mix of pickling and table salt. Horses prefer this to a lick altho always keep one anyway.
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post #8 of 71 Old 06-14-2014, 02:21 PM
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6ish cups of grain is not a lot of food. I would guess that is MAYBE 2 qts of grain... About 1-1.5lbs of grain? Can you weigh it?

Get him off the all stock... It is crap. Get him on a premium HORSE grain. Most grain companies normally recommended 6-8lbs of grain a day split between two to three feedings. That is often 3-6 qts of grain TWICE a day.
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post #9 of 71 Old 06-14-2014, 03:00 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Oct 2012
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That's a lot to take in, but I can't even begin to say how much I appreciate you all being constructive and helpful instead of the alternative.
I'll read through that Nutrition page too.

I'll see if I can go kind of point-by-point so I don't miss anything:

The photos are current.

He is on regular deworming, but probably I'm not doing that frequently enough...?
They're dewormed 4x per year on the first day of the season so they'll get their next on June 21.
We adopted that schedule based on the suggestion of a relative who has very nice looking horses - no doubts about their weight.
Different horses, different pastures... Different worms?
I'll call the vet on Monday (already closed for today) and see if they need to see him or just his manure to check the worm situation.

He had his teeth floated less than 3 months ago, and that did help with him continuing to gain weight, but he's plateaued at the current level, hence my questions.

Wrong feed is looking increasingly like the problem.
6 cups of All Stock weighs just over 2 pounds.
I have a weight tape now, so I'll see if I can get a decent estimate on him.
He's only 14.2hh if anyone wants to guess based on that.

I don't really have a good way to separate them at feeding time at the moment, so there is definitely some stealing back and forth between horses.
After way longer than expected, we finally have what we need to put up a round pen/dry lot, so I could feed him in the pen and the rest outside it as soon as it's built.

With the weight he lost, he has been getting no purposeful exercise from me. Only what he does himself. Probably a mistake?

Good to know about the high hips. After some other reading I did, I suspected that conformation may be playing some role, but I didn't know how much.
I really don't want him to be thin, but I don't want him to be fat either. Most people I know have big built, overweight quarter horses, and it's hard to get them to understand that even at a healthy weight he's not going to look the same. He's not a QH or a "race horse" (TB) so there must be something wrong with him - sigh :(

We had only been giving hay in the winter, so that stopped several weeks ago.
The only one still getting hay is our mini mare (pregnant).
We have 1 round bale left before we would need to buy more, so I was saving it for her since she should foal very soon. I can start hand-feeding him from that so the others don't steal it.
We're also having our open fields cut for hay next week, so we won't run out before I could buy more. Instead of saving it for winter, I'll go ahead and let them have it. Even if it's not the best hay, it should be better than nothing.
My honest opinion of the hay is that it will be "good" not "great."

He is turned out 24/7, so he gets grass constantly.
I called the County Office and they're already gone for the day, but Monday I'll see about having the grass tested.

I had always thought that his "highlights" were just sun-bleaching.
If it's a lack of copper, what would that do to the mule's coat?
He's in the photos too a bit, and eats the same thing.
They've had the same deworming schedule, hay, and type of feed, but the mule didn't drop weight and he shed out normally.

Just as far as my budget goes, would he be better off if I invested more into his hay or into his grain?
I want to improve both, but I'm not sure the best way to do it.
Whatever is most important, I'll invest more into that and make changes on other things to balance it out it my budget.
I gave up sodas to put my dogs on corn/soy-free food, and I can make changes for my big boys too.

Thank you so much for helping me through this.
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post #10 of 71 Old 06-14-2014, 04:01 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Oct 2012
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Skipped something in that novel I just wrote :)

The feed store I prefer to use is a Purina store, so I can get any brand under a Purina label without leaving town. I can also get to a Tractor Supply.
I'm going to do some reading on the Purina website and see what I can figure out, but I'm more than happy to take suggestions.

I used to feed him Omolene 200, but heard that was basically horse candy.
That was pre-Ultium when he had lost the weight this winter.

As he put on weight and the grass came back, that's when I transitioned him from the Ultium to the All Stock.
Talking through it now, maybe that's where I went wrong.

I didn't know that the new spring grass had lower nutritional content.
Maybe if I had kept him on the better feed for a little longer, that could have carried him over to the best grass and got him to the right weight.

I saw on another thread that a lot of people give their horses mineral blocks or loose minerals free-choice.
Would something like that take care of the copper issue?
I know nothing about supplements, other than that they exist.

They have free choice white salt, and then before switching to Ultium, I gave the Omolene + Dumor Weight Builder.
The "horse expert" at the feed store suggested the switch since the Ultium is a complete feed and it would have the same result for less money.

I bet all of this is contributing to why he has bad feet too.

(PS - The All Stock is labeled for horses, cows, sheep, and goats.)
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