Overweight.. diet tips?
 
 

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Overweight.. diet tips?

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  • Hot walker for horse weight loss
  • Mare grunts when she eats

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    05-26-2012, 04:09 AM
  #1
Yearling
Overweight.. diet tips?

My mare has been retired for almost 2 years now due to arthritis. She is a quarter horse and is a very easy keeper.

She is fed 1 flake of grass hay in the morning along with another horse in with her. Then, she is put out in a 1-2 acre field for about 8 hours a day. She doesn't really eat anything at night.

She has always been overweight.. but today I just noticed how badly. I'm actually starting to see fat deposits on her hindquarters between her muscles, and the crest of her neck is getting quite tough and big.

I decided that she should stop being on pasture from now on, but how should I go about weaning her off it? Should I just take her off the pasture right away, or slowly reduce her hours everyday?

She has pretty small legs and hooves and I can see that her weight is affecting her arthritis and making her more sore. I really want her to lose the weight and feel more comfortable.

It is also hard to exercise her at all, because she won't come for walks (insanely stubborn) and I don't want to lunge her because that will put too much pressure on her.

Also, how much hay should I be feeding her once she's off the grass? I think I have a habit of overfeeding because I don't want to risk them not eating enough, but how much should she really be having?
She is 16 years old, 15.1hh, and 1050lbs at a healthy weight. (she's probably alot more now)

During the winter, I was feeding her about 3-4 flakes morning and night, which was approx. 20lbs per day.

Thanks for any advice!
     
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    05-26-2012, 04:26 AM
  #2
Started
I would consider a slow feeder... that way, even if you're only giving her a few flakes a day, she's munching on it for a far more extended period of time. Instead of inhaling it all in about 30 mins and then "starving" between meals, she'll have to pick away at it gradually, which serves to keep her gut moving and such (which we all know is ideal). It also keeps her occupied in "grazing" mode rather than to be completely bored out of her mind between meals.

My personal favorite slow feeder design is the Nibblenet: The NIBBLENET Slow Feeder Hay Bags - thenibblenet.com - Official website of The NIBBLENET Slow feeder Hay Bag - Slow Feed Hay Bags for Horses

There are several other designs that you can probably research if you like as well though.
     
    05-26-2012, 04:33 AM
  #3
Yearling
Quote:
I would consider a slow feeder... that way, even if you're only giving her a few flakes a day, she's munching on it for a far more extended period of time. Instead of inhaling it all in about 30 mins and then "starving" between meals, she'll have to pick away at it gradually, which serves to keep her gut moving and such (which we all know is ideal). It also keeps her occupied in "grazing" mode rather than to be completely bored out of her mind between meals.

My personal favorite slow feeder design is the Nibblenet: The NIBBLENET Slow Feeder Hay Bags - thenibblenet.com - Official website of The NIBBLENET Slow feeder Hay Bag - Slow Feed Hay Bags for Horses

There are several other designs that you can probably research if you like as well though.
Thank you, I was actually considering buying a slow feeder, it's probably a good idea. Oh, I forgot to mention, she is kept in a field that is about 1/2 acre the rest of the time, and it has a little bit of grass in it. The horses nibble away at it all day, but don't really get much. So that kind of works like a natural.. very slow feeder?
My other mare, who has foundered before, is kept off grass and fed breakfast, lunch, and dinner. That would probably be a good idea to do that with my retired mare too?

Thank you :]
     
    05-26-2012, 04:46 AM
  #4
Weanling
Is it possible to turn her out to pasture during the night? Horses in general don't eat as much as they would during the day turned out. You also say that she is too stubborn to go on walks. Could you possibly use your other mare and pony her so they both get exercise (: I don't know if you have access but would a hot walker be beneficial for some exercise (I don't know how hard it would be on her arthritis)? Also another idea for pasture turnout is to do something like a track where they are on pasture but you can use like electrical fence to do a fence and so they move and eat? I don't know much more about that but you could probably find more information about that on here or by googling it. -R
     
    05-26-2012, 04:55 AM
  #5
Yearling
Quote:
Is it possible to turn her out to pasture during the night? Horses in general don't eat as much as they would during the day turned out. You also say that she is too stubborn to go on walks. Could you possibly use your other mare and pony her so they both get exercise (: I don't know if you have access but would a hot walker be beneficial for some exercise (I don't know how hard it would be on her arthritis)? Also another idea for pasture turnout is to do something like a track where they are on pasture but you can use like electrical fence to do a fence and so they move and eat? I don't know much more about that but you could probably find more information about that on here or by googling it. -R
Thanks for the suggestions! :] I wouldn't be comfortable turning them out at night, because the fencing isn't quite as secure as their normal pasture, and wouldn't want them to get into any mischievous while everyone's sleeping! Haha. Also, there isn't a shelter out there.
That would be a great idea to pony her. My other mare isn't rideable at the moment (new horse and she has bad nervousness about people and things being on her back). But, maybe I could lead them both at the same time.
I was also thinking that I could free lunge the two of them together in an arena size field and just get them walking for awhile, and a little bit of trotting.

She gallops and trots around in the pasture with the other horses quite a bit, so she should probably be okay to do like 5 minutes of light free lunging everyday. It is probably putting alot more stress on her being overweight than the exercise.

Thanks so much for the ideas!
     
    05-26-2012, 01:25 PM
  #6
Weanling
I'm really not sure how taking her off of pasture is going to do any good for her at all. She needs exercise, not a diet. 1 flake a day is nothing. My mare could go through that in 5 minutes. Even 8hrs of pasture isn't much. If she really is getting super fat, I'd have the vet out to check her. She siimply isn't getting enough food to merit excessive weight gain. Unless you have emerald green pastures or something...
What do you plan on doing with her if she doesn't go in the pasture? Keep her in the stall? A little paddock? You know that's exactly the wrong thing tto do with an arthritic horse, right? Use it or lose it applies to horses as well. Why isn't she outside 24/7 if she's on your property? Think of all the extra exercise she'd be getting. Horses aren't really like us. They don't go to sleep when the sun goes down and sleep for 8 hours. They take cat naps all day long, and spend a couple of hours on the ground in deep sleep. They are actually awake for most of the night, walking around and grazing. It's not like they park themselves on the ground and don't move til morning, like we do.
Horses with arthritis become stiff if they're immobile for a long time. It is hard for them to turn in circles, so they do not move around much in a confined space. (ie: a stall).
Please consider how weight lose even occurs. Do people on diets actually lose weight? Just cause you eat carrot sticks all day, doesn't mean you're losing weight, especially if you're parked in front of the tv all day. It requires exercise, combined with fewer calories. Same with horses. Increase the exercise, increase the weight loss.
I'm in the same boat as you. My mare has significant arthritis. She is unable to be ridden, and prolonged walks are painful for her. When I had her on an acre of private pasture 24/7, she was more active and her weight was kept under control. She could run when she felt like it, and she did. Now she's kept as a free lease companion horse, stalled and then outside for 8hrs on pasture. And guess what? She's on her way to becomming obese, and she's gotten much stiffer in general. I can't control her turnout situation, unless I board her again. (Which I'm going to have to do before winter). You, however, sound like you own your own property, and want to help your horse.
There are many things you can do to help your horse, and I wish you the best of luck.
     
    05-26-2012, 01:49 PM
  #7
Foal
Is she on a joint supplement for arthritis? Maybe a joint supplement would make her more willing to exercise. I have an arthritic horse and I know for him exercise and 24/7 turnout have really made a difference in his comfort. What about putting a grazing muzzle on for turnout? Also maybe check with the vet and see if there any kind of metabolic issue or something going on that is contributing to her being overweight.
     
    05-26-2012, 03:37 PM
  #8
Weanling
Wow, you and I have/had a similar problem. I have a mare like yours. She has been tested an is, in fact, IR. Here are my suggestions for immediate relief:

1. Grazing muzzle, and a good one, like the Best Friend's muzzle. Any time in the pasture should be with the muzzle. A good muzzle will minimize rubbing and also be harder to take off.
2. Dry lot. If you have a dry lot, awesome. If not, go back to grazing muzzle and stalling. I put my mare out at night with her muzzle on because the starch in the grass is significantly less at night.
3. Chromium/Magnesium suppliment. I use Quiessence, but some people use Animed Remission. Either one will help and you can start her ASAP. Most horses eat both, but mine likes the Quiessence better because she's a pellet fan and not big on 'meal'.
4. Exercise. Even if you cannot ride, a 1/2 go in the round pen or arena will for sure be better than nothing. I began training my mare for endurance, which has helped a lot.
5. If all else fails, which did in my case ... go to the vet and have blood work drawn and ask to start on Thyro-L even if she's not immediately IR. You can get a 6 month prescription to 'jump start' her metabolism if you need.. When my mare wasn't losing any weight on all of the above until we started Thyro-L, which is surprisingly cheap and effective. One month after starting I could feel her ribs again finally.

Good luck!
Skyseternalangel and SueNH like this.
     
    05-26-2012, 08:44 PM
  #9
Yearling
Quote:
I'm really not sure how taking her off of pasture is going to do any good for her at all. She needs exercise, not a diet. 1 flake a day is nothing. My mare could go through that in 5 minutes. Even 8hrs of pasture isn't much. If she really is getting super fat, I'd have the vet out to check her. She siimply isn't getting enough food to merit excessive weight gain. Unless you have emerald green pastures or something...
What do you plan on doing with her if she doesn't go in the pasture? Keep her in the stall? A little paddock? You know that's exactly the wrong thing tto do with an arthritic horse, right? Use it or lose it applies to horses as well. Why isn't she outside 24/7 if she's on your property? Think of all the extra exercise she'd be getting. Horses aren't really like us. They don't go to sleep when the sun goes down and sleep for 8 hours. They take cat naps all day long, and spend a couple of hours on the ground in deep sleep. They are actually awake for most of the night, walking around and grazing. It's not like they park themselves on the ground and don't move til morning, like we do.
Horses with arthritis become stiff if they're immobile for a long time. It is hard for them to turn in circles, so they do not move around much in a confined space. (ie: a stall).
She eats one flake in the morning, then she goes out on the pasture. Then when she comes in at night, she has the option of eating hay, but she doesn't because she is full. She actually makes grunting noises when she tries to eat some hay because she is so full. Haha.

No, no, no, she is not in a stall. I would never keep my horses in a stall. It's not a little paddock she is kept in either. It is about a 1/2 acre in size, and it has enough grass to graze on as long as she wants without getting too much food.

Lately though, we are turning on the sprinklers in her 1/2 acre pasture and putting the new mare in a slightly smaller dirt lot during the day.

Today, I put the both of them in the dirt area and gave them 1 flake each this morning, and 1 flake each at lunch. I was thinking I would put her out for a couple hours in the evening, when the grass isn't as rich and sugary.

So, at night time, she is in a pasture that she shares with one other horse, and they walk around and nibble on the grass.

I know that exercise is very important, but there isn't much I can do if she doesn't want to go for walks or anything. On days she is really sore, she just walks in her big field, but on days she feels good she might go for a little canter and trot with the other horses.

I definetely wouldn't keep her in a stall, as I know that when they have arthritis it is good for them to move around even if it's slowly, all day. I wouldn't put any horse in a stall for the same reason that it is unnatural.

If I were to keep her out on the field for 8 hrs per day.. what should I do to help her lose weight? She is just going to get fatter and fatter until she's obese, and that will put wayy more pressure on her legs and affect her health.

Quote:
Is she on a joint supplement for arthritis? Maybe a joint supplement would make her more willing to exercise. I have an arthritic horse and I know for him exercise and 24/7 turnout have really made a difference in his comfort. What about putting a grazing muzzle on for turnout? Also maybe check with the vet and see if there any kind of metabolic issue or something going on that is contributing to her being overweight.
No, she isn't on a supplement right now. I am going to start researching again and try to find one that works. We have tried Bio-Iso-G and corta-flx which both are glucosamine and the bio-iso-g had yucca and devils claw. We also tried Recovery Extra Strength and nothing really worked for her.
The thing is.. the pasture isn't really THAT lush. The grass is only like 5" tall or so and not that green.
She has always been overweight when she isn't being worked, so I don't think it could be a health issue that has just come up.
Obviously, she needs exercise. But it's hard when she doesn't want to do anything and I would feel cruel to make her do something when she might be hurting :[

Quote:
Wow, you and I have/had a similar problem. I have a mare like yours. She has been tested an is, in fact, IR. Here are my suggestions for immediate relief:

1. Grazing muzzle, and a good one, like the Best Friend's muzzle. Any time in the pasture should be with the muzzle. A good muzzle will minimize rubbing and also be harder to take off.
2. Dry lot. If you have a dry lot, awesome. If not, go back to grazing muzzle and stalling. I put my mare out at night with her muzzle on because the starch in the grass is significantly less at night.
3. Chromium/Magnesium suppliment. I use Quiessence, but some people use Animed Remission. Either one will help and you can start her ASAP. Most horses eat both, but mine likes the Quiessence better because she's a pellet fan and not big on 'meal'.
4. Exercise. Even if you cannot ride, a 1/2 go in the round pen or arena will for sure be better than nothing. I began training my mare for endurance, which has helped a lot.
5. If all else fails, which did in my case ... go to the vet and have blood work drawn and ask to start on Thyro-L even if she's not immediately IR. You can get a 6 month prescription to 'jump start' her metabolism if you need.. When my mare wasn't losing any weight on all of the above until we started Thyro-L, which is surprisingly cheap and effective. One month after starting I could feel her ribs again finally.

Good luck!
Thank you!
I'm thinking this is what I will do from now on:
7am - feed 1 flake (while in 1/2 acre paddock with little grass)
12pm - feed 1 flake (while in smaller dirt lot, not much grass, weeds)
5-6pm - put out in large field
8pm - bring her in and feed 1 flake

Does this sound like a good plan? That way.. if she wants to run, she can go for a run with her buddies while she gets let out for a couple hours. Plus, she gets food throughout the day.

I will definetely start trying some more supplements for her. Hopefully we find one that works somewhat and makes her a bit more comfortable! Then she might be more willing to run and get some exercise.


Thanks very much everyone! :]
     

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