Ageing horse or sick horse?
I am pretty worried about my 16 year old 16 hh Holstiener gelding, George. This spring I moved him and his pasture mate from Michigan to Colorado. George lost a lot of weight the first few weeks (I think from being stressed out about the elk) and also had a cough and runny nose (I assumed a cold from the stress of the move). His energy level however was normal and he had fairly decent muscle tone (considering he'd been off work for two years). He got over his cold, became a happy member of the herd but didn't gain much weight. In a couple months I started to notice he looked haggard...his coat wasn't shiny, and he was losing muscle despite regular exercise. Then he started getting lazy on trail, I assumed his feet were sore and bought him special boots which seemed to help marginally. I began feeding him grain and oil for his coat and sold his old pasture mate which he didn't seem to upset about. His energy level began to become lower but he still seemed alert and curious. About a month ago I moved him to a different barn and he has just gotten worse. He has gained weight but his back is saggy, his withers indented and there is no muscle at all on his hindquarters (again he is recieving regular work, including dressage work, which should help with his back and butt, but hasn't). He is very food dominate and loves his grain and hay (no sign of not wanting to eat), but his energy level is that of a 25 year old horse (mind you, he has also been spirited and energetic). He breaths heavy just on the walk out of the pasture and has a hard time staying in a canter (even this spring I could hardly hold him back in the canter, he just wanted to go so this is a huge change). He ambles back to his friends when I turn him out rather than run back to them. He is up to date on worming, has all his vaccines and I had the vet to a blood test which came back normal. He did have a minor episode of choke the second week at the new barn but recovered with an hour and has been fine since.
Any ideas? The vet doesn't seem too worried but I am telling you, this is a 16 year old horse that looks/acts 25 and the transformation happened in less than a year. I don't think this is normal aging, I'm not sure if it could be depression? He has a herd to play with, plenty of room, good hay, human contact and a big appetite.
Any similar stories? I feel terrible for my poor guy. Any help greatly appreciated
Emma and George