Diet recommendations for my underweight mare please!!
   

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Diet recommendations for my underweight mare please!!

This is a discussion on Diet recommendations for my underweight mare please!! within the Horse Health forums, part of the Keeping and Caring for Horses category
  • Feeding underweight horse
  • Hollow deformed flanks on a horse

 
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    01-24-2011, 01:14 AM
  #1
Foal
Exclamation Diet recommendations for my underweight mare please!!

Hi All,

For those of you who don't already know, I recently purchased a 13 year old QH mare named Lilly, about 15.1-2 HH. She's a doll and a joy to be around, but it kills me every day I go out to see her and have to look at those sunken withers and hollow thighs. Here's the story: I bought her 3 weeks ago from a sweet lady who had had her since she was 9 months old. I saw for myself where she was kept, and it wasn't pretty. The BO fed her grass hay that had virtually NO nutrients in it (we're talking practically yellow stuff) and was neglecting to feed her grain. They also never cleaned her stall and her hay holder was broken so all of her hay would fall out on the floor into pee/poop piles and get grimy.

I immediately moved her to a wonderful facility. I clean her stall myself so soiled hay is never an issue. The board owner here feeds grass hay. It's got color but to be honest I still cringe when I see it -- maybe I just have an unprecedented problem with grass hay? (I grew up working/riding at a really nice barn in California where the horses were fed premium alfalfa hay and I've never seen any other kind... so everything else pales in comparison through my eyes.) Right now, Lilly is eating about 2-3 flakes of grass hay 2x a day and 1 large scoop (I'd say about 3-4lbs) of senior grain 2x a day and snacking when she's out to pasture. She's an easy keeper and I ride her a few times a week (bad weather... so not fun!). When spring rolls around I plan to take her on trails 5 days a week for several hours at a time.

What I'd like to know is this: Do you think that she'll beef up fine now that she's being taken better care of, and I'm just being an impatient worry wart? Or do you think there is something more that I could/should be doing to help her gain weight more quickly? I hate hate HATE seeing her looking anything less than robust. I thought maybe I could buy a bale a week of alfalfa hay to feed her once a day when I go to see her or something like that, to compensate for what the grass hay lacks in nutrients.

I know they aren't the best shots (I didn't take them specifically for this, just happen to have them on me), but here are a few pics:
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    01-24-2011, 03:44 AM
  #2
Foal
Hi again,
I rescued my colt and needed to put weight on him also. My vet told me to put him on senior feed, calf mana, and mare and foal. So I did. He was also eating all the grass hay he wanted..not yellow, nice and green. He gained some weight but I just didn't feel right to me how much grain he was eating. I just hired a new farrier. She is a all natural hoof care. She told me to change my horses diet and that you should never give horses grain. She said they should be on a all green diet. So I listened. I kept his grass hay but instead of feeding grain in the morning and night I gave him Alfalfa cubes. I also changed my 6 year old mares diet at the same time. Anyway I was never a fan of cubes because I once saw a horse choke on cubes but I broke down because a bale of Alfalfa hay here is $36. Cubes or $13. I'm just sure to soak them good before I feed them. The point is my horses put on weight right away! They look great! The mix of grass hay and alfalfa cubes in my opinion is great! It even changed my colts atitude. Once he was off the grain he was a lot calmer. I highly recomend it.
     
    01-24-2011, 03:55 AM
  #3
Foal
Wow that's great to hear, thanks so much!! I've heard weird things about grain too, where I used to ride and the way I was taught by my friend (a middle aged woman, went to vet school at UC Davis and married a racehorse trainer) was that grain should be more of a treat than a staple. Alfalfa hay here is I think around $15 a bale so I'll probably just do that! I love Alfalfa... it's so green and leafy and rich :) I'm so looking forward to seeing her plump up! And while she is obviously my #1 point of concern, I have to admit I feel a little self-conscious too... I just moved her to a new place where nobody knows me or her and I'm afraid they'll get the wrong impression that I don't care for my horse :(
     
    01-24-2011, 06:41 AM
  #4
Green Broke
She doesn't look that bad... or maybe its the photo quality.
But it doesn't look like you can see any ribs and I think the flanks is muscle?... not to sure.
But it sounds like she would probably be lacking in muscle as well from her previous owner
     
    01-24-2011, 06:45 AM
  #5
Green Broke
I agree with RedTree...in that she doesn't really look that bad. She could use a bit of weight, but nothing extreme.
     
    01-24-2011, 08:13 AM
  #6
Started
I don't see a horse lacking weight I see one lacking MUSCLE...

Which senior feed are you using??

I too stay away from grains and try to stick to all forage and just add the vitamins/minerals with fat as needed.

What you might try is removing the senior go to Purina's Enrich32 and add some alfalfa cubes or pellets
     
    01-24-2011, 01:45 PM
  #7
Foal
Hi everyone, thanks for the replies.

Yes, Lilly is definitely lacking muscle. Her owner was pregnant and didn't do any riding during that period, so she hasn't gotten much exercise in the past 9 months (I definitely plan on changing that!). That is part of the problem. However, the pictures ARE bad quality/at a bad angle, I am almost positive she is underweight. She appears that way to me, and nearly everyone who's seen her has mentioned something about it. Although these pictures don't show it, she's very hollow and sunken in right at the flank/end of her ribcage where she should be looking full and round... also, from these angles it doesn't show, but you CAN see a light outline of her ribs in person -- my thoughts are, she's definitely not "lean with muscle", therefore she must be underweight..? I think I am going to ditch the senior feed and switch to alfalfa cubes thanks to cloudkisser's advice :) I also think I might add flax seed because I hear it does wonders for horses, from the inside out.

I do secretly hope you guys are right though... I don't want my baby being underweight :( I wanted to take lessons, but right now I'm foregoing them because I'd rather put my money towards getting her back on track nutrition-wise.
     
    01-24-2011, 01:51 PM
  #8
Started
It is going to take more then alfalfa cubes to put weight on her and balance the nutrition.

Look for a good vitamin/mineral supplement or ration balancer then add in your forage cubes and maybe some rice bran for the added fat

Don't overlook nutrition in the process since I suspect her problem is in the protien department
     
    01-24-2011, 02:01 PM
  #9
Foal
Alright thanks Peggysue... I'll look into Purina's Enrich32 and see what supplements my feed store carries. I'm headed there today for the alfalfa cubes regardless, because I'd definitely like to try them even if I have to add other things to make sure her diet is well-rounded. I just don't want her on too much grain, for some reason it makes me think of a person always eating oatmeal in excess... don't ask me why!

Thanks so much for all of your advice, guys... it's really helpful. I'm new to horse ownership and I'm finding that I've fallen so in love with this girl that I want her to have THE BEST possible care I can give her in every way, and there are definitely things I need to learn about. I myself happen to be a very healthy eater, so I'm very interested in my horse's healthy eating habits too :)
     
    01-24-2011, 02:02 PM
  #10
Started
Stargazer
No one has yet mentioned worming.
The first thing I would think of when receiving a new horse is to worm it. As k the lady where the horse came from what worming has been done previously.
You might need some advice as to which wormer to use.

Don't be in too much of a hurry for the horse to put weight on - there is always a risk of laminitis if you over feed a horse too quickly.

As the others have said , she needs some muscle - so if you haven't got the time to ride then lunge her for 20 - 30 minutes each day.
     

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