Fattening up an older OTTB - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 11 Old 03-21-2011, 09:36 AM Thread Starter
Green Broke
Join Date: Mar 2009
Location: SW Michigan
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Fattening up an older OTTB

Sorry guys, I have another question about older horses!

I am going to go look at a 17 year old TB gelding on wednesday, and it sounds like he is underweight currently and is a hard keeper.

What would be a good feeding plan to help him regain weight? I really like the Tribute brand of feeds, and was looking at this one in particular: Tribute Maturity Pelleted

I am guessing on his weight since he is about 16 hands and pretty big boned guy. He would be in light to moderate training until I recover fully from my knee surgery. However, I am having some trouble figuring out the feeding guidelines. Do they mean 6-8 pounds per meal, or per day? Is there something else I could add to his feed as well? This horse (if I get him) will be on 24 hour turn out to a mixture of actual pasture and sorta-pasture during the summer.

Anybody else want to share their feeding routine for their hard keeper? I owned a TB before, but never really figured out the best feeding routine for him before I sold him. Thankfully this time around I will have access to much more pasture time then I did before, which will hopefully make a big difference.

Thanks for any help! I want to get all my ducks in a row so I can consider all aspects of bringing this horse home.

RH Queen O Anywhere "Sydney"
2009 Sugarbush draft
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post #2 of 11 Old 03-21-2011, 09:53 AM Thread Starter
Green Broke
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I just wanted to add that I plan to add MSM to his diet as well for joint and coat health.

RH Queen O Anywhere "Sydney"
2009 Sugarbush draft
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post #3 of 11 Old 03-21-2011, 12:25 PM
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Instead of investing in plain MSM, why not go to a product like this:

SmartFlex Senior Pellets - Equine Joint Supplements from SmartPak Equine

I have Nelson on this product, and I get more bang for my buck with this. I have him on the Herb Free product because he has Ulcers, and Devils Claw is not a good ingredient for a horse with ulcers because it upsets the system.

With Nelson, I have him on full turn out. No stall time at all. The reasons being is

- Horses with Arthritus/joint issues thrive better when they are able to move around naturally. Being confined in a stall, they are left to stand for hours on end. Not good for the joints.

- Horses with ulcers, like Nelson, and senior horses with a digestive system that runs slower, needs to beable to have access to hay continuously. Being confined in a stall, limits their hay access - unless the barn is willing to throw hay in the horses stall when the horse is running low. I find most people sleep through the night, which makes this impossible.

I have Nelson out 24/7. He has access to a round bale so he can eat at any point in time he chooses so. He does very well when he has access to roughage all day and all night.

His buddy who is 17, was in the same shape before we moved. Skinny, poor temperment, not wanting to work. Now that he is out 24/7 and has consistant access to roughage, his personallity has improved greatly, you cannot see ribs anymore and the attitudes of both have sky rocketed and the movements we are getting out of the boys, are wonderful.

Roughage, Roughage, Roughage, Roughage!

Here is an article I believe will help you out:

Balancing Act - Designing A Diet For The Modern Horse

For "feed", the barn we are now at feeds this:

ProAdvantage Grass Formula

ProAdvantage Hi-Fat Formula

I spoke with a few Equine Nutritionists before the move, and they told me that Progressive Nutrition is up there in quality. Which made me feel great about putting him on it.

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post #4 of 11 Old 03-21-2011, 02:16 PM Thread Starter
Green Broke
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I was kind of hoping that you would comment! I admire you and how well you have maintained Nelson. It just amazes me that he is still eventing at his age.

Does he get a mix of both of those feeds, or just one of them? Do you know how much they run per bag? Do you feed them like a balancer?

I think a lot of the problem with my first TB was that he only had access to grass for a few hours a day, the rest of the time he was on a dry lot and only got hay in the morning and at night. It was not the BO's fault either, that was just how she was use to feeding her stock type horses, and they all thrived on that routine.

This time around whatever horse I get will have access to a full pasture at night, and then be on a pasture that has been pretty mowed down during the day, but they could still snack.

RH Queen O Anywhere "Sydney"
2009 Sugarbush draft
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post #5 of 11 Old 03-21-2011, 02:28 PM
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He gets fed 2lbs each, at the same time. 2lbs of the Grass Formula and 2lbs of the Fat Formula, twice a day = 8lbs a day, with his suppliments in his evening feed. The round bales are a mixture of Alfalfa and Grass. So the Grass formula is there to balance everything out.

Nelson is on Pasture board now, but even though he has access to pasture, he still gets a round bale, he and the other 2 he is in the pasture with. The barn puts no more than 5 horses per pasture lot.

If you cannot afford to do round bales over the summer, then save your pennies come fall. When the pasture starts to lose its nutritional value, make sure he has access to hay. The best bet, is round bales - seriously, I know they have their down falls, but they have their positives as well, being that your horse will have continuous access to hay, no matter what time of day - without having to rely on the BM, a friend or the BO on throwing hay out when they get the chance.

That's not enough for Nelson, to have a few flakes thrown to him here and there throughout the day, not good enough. That's why the round bales, for me, are the best.

Nelson is doing very well, and he's very well taken care of at the new barn. I couldn't be happier. But with older horses, comes a lot more "care". I do a lot to ensure his soundness, his health and happiness. Adequan, Suppliments, regular chiro work, regular massage therapy, lots, and lots and lots of hacking, long and low work and bending and stretching. Proper nutrition.

If the barn you are at, cannot accomodate what your senior horse needs, I'd find somewhere else. That's what I ended up having to do. Where we were - could not accomodate what Nelson needed, I had to pull teeth to get it, and it still wasn't enough. Now, that we are where we are - he is flourishing amazingly well! People cannot believe the transfermation he's made since the move.

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post #6 of 11 Old 03-21-2011, 02:57 PM
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Be careful not to stuff him with feed and/or supplements he's not accustomed to. I've heard complaints of horses getting to fat with the use of the small mesh hay nets.. Slower ingestion results in better digestion. I'd start him on hay and Senior's pellets starting with maybe 2 lbs once daily and over a period of several weeks work him up to 3lbs twice daily. I'd keep him there for a month and see how he's doing. I like to scatter pellets over as big a surface as possible so the horse has to nibble them rather than bolt them down. Do have his teeth checked and try to keep him turned out. TB's were bred to move but are often locked up in a stall.
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post #7 of 11 Old 03-21-2011, 06:13 PM
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i'm with MIEventer on the roughage roughage roughage! :) my OTTB does best on a diet of basically free choice orchard grass/alfalfa mix coupled with 5lbs of strategy healthy edge (higher fat content than the regular strategy) and 5lbs of elk grove milling stable mix + his supplements - that's split into two feedings so he's not getting a ton of stuff all at once obviously.

it took me a long time and lots of trial and error to figure out what was just right for him as each horse is different. but if you take everything into account and look at what's working and not working for your situation, you'll figure it out. :)
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post #8 of 11 Old 03-21-2011, 07:54 PM
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Agree with MIE. Unless your horse is physically unable to eat the fiber content he needs, there is no reason to put him on a senior diet. Given that he is a TB, the higher sugar content in these feeds would put him at greater ulcer risk as well. My TB just turned 21 and no one can believe his age (they all guessed him at 11 years). He is definitely a hard keeper but here is the secret to our success: tons of quality grass hay, a nice joint suppliment (mostly for peace of mind)- I use smartflex sr., 2 lbs twice a day of rice bran and a flake twice a day of alfalfa. You never want to give more than 5 lbs at a time of grain/ricebran/suppliment as it will spill into the hindgut and ferment and then (as our nutritionist says) you just have a bunch of kids gone wild on beer. Ie bad situation! Good luck, OTTB's are the greatest ever!!
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post #9 of 11 Old 03-21-2011, 09:17 PM
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awesome advice MIE! (we need to catch up soon - miss ya!)

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post #10 of 11 Old 03-22-2011, 12:10 AM
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Miss you too CJ!

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