Restarting an underweight older horse - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 9 Old 12-05-2013, 11:10 AM Thread Starter
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Restarting an underweight older horse

One of my horses (Well, not mine he was under the care of family friends) has been left in a paddock for 2 years and nothing has been done with him. When I went to see him he was underweight and had no muscle at all. I quickly found a place for him but I will be restarting him to become a light trail horse. He is moving to my place the beginning of next week. We will be feeding him golden years which is a senior horse feed, but starting out with small amounts so we do not upset his stomach.
When restarting a horse in his condition, should I first pony him on trail rides so he gets used to the distance before putting a rider on him? It would give him a chance to build some muscle on him legs. Are there any suggestions when building muscle for being ridden or putting weight on him? My other horse is older and had gained a lot of weight on golden years once we increased it to the proper amount. Any feedback would be appreciated!
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post #2 of 9 Old 12-05-2013, 11:16 AM
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Do you have any pictures? I think readers will need a better idea as to how out of shape he is before giving an educated answer~
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post #3 of 9 Old 12-05-2013, 11:26 AM
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I agree with pictures, and age? "Older horse" can mean different things to different people. Some considering mid to late teens and "older horse" and others consider 20s.
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post #4 of 9 Old 12-05-2013, 12:32 PM
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Agreed, and "underweight" can mean different things too. Some people would call this underweight...which he is, but he's in good enough shape that he could be lightly ridden while gaining his weight and muscle back


However, other people think "underweight horse" and picture something more like this. This horse should definitely not be ridden or even worked until he's had time to safely put on plenty of weight. Asking him to work in hand or, heaven forbid, under saddle, takes calories away from weight gain and makes it harder for him to get healthy.
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post #5 of 9 Old 12-05-2013, 07:38 PM
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^Afraid to say, I turned up at one new client's recently to find a horse that makes that pally look in top show condition & he literally couldn't pic up a back foot past a few inches without literally wobbling & falling over! He had cuts & skunnies from just falling in the paddock ...& the vet had OKed it on PPE for a teenager's first horse for trail riding!!!
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post #6 of 9 Old 12-18-2013, 09:18 PM Thread Starter
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Sorry for taking so long. Here is a picture of him on the day we brought him home. He is a 20 year old quarter horse cross. We have been ponying him on trail rides and rode him bareback once. Opinions are welcome. Thanks
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File Type: jpg charlie.jpg (97.1 KB, 43 views)
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post #7 of 9 Old 12-18-2013, 09:59 PM
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Oh he doesn't look all that bad. He is underweight, yes, but not horribly so.

He can probably handle light work just fine At this stage. Go slowly and work up to moderate work.

24/7 hay right now is going to be best. And some grain is fine, but don't overload him. He could probably use a good joint supplement, pure MSM is cheap and a good anti-inflammatory/pain reliever. Corti-Flex HA is awesome too.
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post #8 of 9 Old 12-18-2013, 10:48 PM
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^^I agree, he doesn't look all that bad. Sure, he could use some weight and muscle, but he's in good enough condition to start some light under saddle work (providing you've got a saddle that will fit him...and others that will fit once he starts to fill in some more). I'm not sure what the protein percentage is in the feed you've got him on as I'm not familiar with it, but if it's around 10%-13% like a lot of pelleted feeds are, I would likely add some alfalfa pellets to his diet as well because they average 15%-18% protein and that would help him to build up his muscle mass a little quicker. Plus, alfalfa is a great source of fiber, which most other feeds don't have nearly enough of...and it's a necessity for a healthy gut.

Always remember that feeling of looking at a big, open country over the ears of a good horse, seeing a new trail unwind ahead of you, and that ever-spectacular view from the top of the ridge!!! Follow my training blog: http://robertsontraining.blogspot.com/
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post #9 of 9 Old 12-18-2013, 10:58 PM
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You might consider also having a fecal ($30-50, depends on your area) and deworm him accordingly as well. I'm thinking that may be his biggest problem, since he looks rather bloated.
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