heavily muscled horse looks underweight to me...? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 48 Old 03-15-2013, 07:28 AM Thread Starter
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heavily muscled horse looks underweight to me...?

I purchased a new horse and she was delivered today. I bought her sight unseen through a local ranch that I was under the impression is trustworthy and sells good, sound horses.

Well, this girl has huge muscles all over her chest and hips, in fact from behind you can see very large, well defined pads that stand high above her spine.

But, she also has very visible ribs, a tucked up waist, thin neck and very deep depressions above her eyes. Her spine is not visible but her wither feels like a fleshless bone just under her hide. In spite of her heavy muscling, I look at her and think she looks starved. Those deep deep hollows above her eyes and the boniness of her face especially make me think 'starving'.

She is also covered in injurys. She has a partially healed slash across her back, a very recent scabby, bloody, fly covered injury above her right forefoot, A scabbed and peeling injury under her forelock, and numerous small, healing injuries all over her shoulders etc. Shes semi-shod with her two back shoes missing, you can see the nail holes on her back feet. And when I watch her walk (she prefers to stand quietly) there is a looseness to her leg movements like shes slightly unsteady on her feet. She had been bathed today before delivery, but when I groomed her face, hair came away in little scabby like bits...especially from inside those deep sockets above her eyes.

The woman said that the horse doesn't finish her daily feed. She also said the injuries are from other horses (they look like horse given injuries) and that the horse was out on a trail ride all day (with the back injury and foot injury plus 2 missing shoes) and that the mare threw the two shoes a couple of weeks ago but seems sound that way. She also stated that she'd only had the horse for a month or so.

What do you experienced horse owners think? My only other horse is a sassy pony that I have to keep on a diet so she doesn't end up sick someday. I'll have her looked over by a vet to see what health issues I'm looking at, but I'd like to hear thoughts from experienced horse owners also. Shes supposed to be 7 yrs old.

Shes a super calm, quiet mare by the way. I'm uncertain if shes drinking up my attention or just too tired to bother to walk away...but I tentatively think shes enjoying the attention. Her appetite was steady since she came today but her eating pace is very slow. She seems very sweet and well mannered.

I took a couple of pictures, hopefully I added them correctly. Its dark out here now, but I thought pictures could describe it better. Wish I had more pictures, especially of her eye hollows but I didn't want to scare her with a flash that close to her eyes.

Last edited by Saengchwi; 03-15-2013 at 07:37 AM.
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post #2 of 48 Old 03-15-2013, 07:58 AM
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The ranch was local, but you bought her sight unseen? Did you buy her as a riding horse? Is she on trial for your approval? Is there a bill of sale,which hopefully states her age, and maybe some other pertinenet facts? Did the ranch deliver her? Is this a registered horse? Did you get the papers?
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post #3 of 48 Old 03-15-2013, 08:04 AM
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A whole body shot would give a much better idea as a really fit horse can have slight amount of ribs showing and still be in good weight - but what it looks like in that picture seems to show more. But it can be deceiving without a fully body shot.

A horse does not need shoes for trail riding if they are sound, but one would think if its been long enough that shoes were thrown that a trim was atleast due. And it is troubling taking a horse out if there are injuries that could effect soundness.

When the vet is out I would have him look at and float the teeth and if that doesn't help with weight with good feed then maybe investigate the possibilities of ulcers. But with all the beat up injuries from other horses you describe - I suspect this horse was low-man in the herd and just did not get enough hay if they fed them in a group.

All I pay my psychiatrist is cost of feed and hay, and he'll listen to me any day!

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post #4 of 48 Old 03-15-2013, 09:50 AM Thread Starter
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Thank you Cat. Her hooves are longer then I let my ponies grow between trims, but look sound. Frogs are a bit contracted and a small amount of flare. But I'm used to bare feet, not shoes. I've never seen that slight wobbliness in how she walks. Its only in her back legs (where shes also missing her shoes). The farrier is due on the 30th for my pony but I'm sure he'll be willing to come sooner.

I was careful feeding her today - I was told shes been on a bermuda hay only diet so I gave her free-feed of hay only and kept her separated from my pony so that she could feed freely. I'd like to switch her to a richer variation of my ponies diet - supplement, hay, beet pulp and turn out. Does the degree of underweight effect how gradual the diet changes need to be? I want to improve her diet asap.
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post #5 of 48 Old 03-15-2013, 10:08 AM
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Well, I'm glad she's come to you. It sounds that although she may have not been outright abused or neglected, she will be much happier with you and although I haven't really seen her, I'll bet she's going to make a real beau once you get her at a better weight and she heals up. I'd get her teeth floated ASAP to make sure she's not underweight due to sharp teeth or uneven grinding, and gradually up her to bermuda and maybe some alfalfa or alfalfa pellets (soaked) if you can get it, with some rice bran or something similar added to her diet to give her a little boost. You can always lower her feed intake if she ever gets a bit pudgey.

Poor gal. Hopefully she still has the same temperment once she's rested up and feeling better.
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post #6 of 48 Old 03-15-2013, 10:29 AM
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You want to make any feed changes gradual so that you don't effect the balance in the gut and cause colic or founder. But I don't think just because she is on the thin side that the changes would have to be any slower than anormal horse - they all need some time to acclimate. Let her get used to the type and amount hay for a couple days and then slowly add in the other stuff you want to. Thankfully things like beet pulp are high fiber and aren't going to have such a big impact as a grain or high sugar or startch meal would.

All I pay my psychiatrist is cost of feed and hay, and he'll listen to me any day!

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post #7 of 48 Old 03-15-2013, 10:34 AM
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The hollows over the eyes makes me think she is older than 7, like 20+. The wobbly hind end sounds like a neurological disease, EPM...It is really hard to look muscular with ribs showing, so better pictures are needed.
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post #8 of 48 Old 03-15-2013, 10:40 AM
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Welcome to HF I agree with others.. Look forward to seeing more of her.

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post #9 of 48 Old 03-15-2013, 10:48 AM
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Really can't gauge the hollow over the eyes - sometimes that is just the way the horse is. My husband's draft cross has pretty pronounced hollows over his eyes and he is young and fat!
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All I pay my psychiatrist is cost of feed and hay, and he'll listen to me any day!

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post #10 of 48 Old 03-15-2013, 10:51 AM
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I had the same thoughts as Sahara regarding her age. I'm glad you are getting the vet out. It sounds like she needs a pretty complete exam. He will have a good feed plan for her although there is sound advice here. Please let us know what the vet has to say.
I wish you the best with her. It sounds like she can use all the TLC she can get.

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