Ribs showing, but not thin?

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Ribs showing, but not thin?

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  • My horses ribs show but he is not underweight
  • Horse is skinny in ribs but not butt or neck

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    10-06-2011, 01:01 PM
Ribs showing, but not thin?

Hey guys, I was visiting a new boarding barn, and while looking around I noticed a horse who's ribs were clearly showing, yet he showed no other signs of being thin. Lacking in muscle? Yes. But not thin, his hips weren't protruding, his spin didn't have the ' feed me!' look, and he was rather round, but his ribs were still clear. He was an old 19 (ish) thoroughbred as I recall.
At first I thought of worms, but he was on a regular worming scheduled ( as was required by the boarding barn), so this whole thing just got me wondering.

I remember seeing somewhere that you shouldn't look at a horse's barrel to determine if he is overweight, is the same true for being underweight?

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    10-06-2011, 01:15 PM
Super Moderator
Extremely fit horses will often look a little "ribby". The whole picture is necessary to decide if the horse is underweight or not.
kitten_Val and Corporal like this.
    10-06-2011, 01:19 PM
Green Broke
It could just be his age. My Arab mare sounds to be the same way (really fat gut but tops of ribs showing) She's on a very regular worming schedule and extra feed, but the only time it really improves is if she's on grass 24/7 for a couple months and then she really is chubby lol.

As Allison mentioned, super fit horses do look ribby also, just look at racehorses when they're in running form.
    10-06-2011, 01:23 PM
I've been wondering this myself lately. My quarter horse is pretty well muscled, he gets worked fairly hard 5-6 days a week. He seems quite fit and is on 24/7 pasture but I've noticed in the past couple weeks I can see the faintest outline of ribs. I've been feeding him a bit extra in the evenings to keep him from losing too much weight. Not to hijack but now I'm wondering if he needs the extra food? Or if he's just in good shape...something to ponder. Thank you all for the education :)
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    10-06-2011, 01:26 PM
I think it is true. My horse's ribs are showing and the vet told me last thursday he looks really healthy (he was almost 200 pds overweight when I bought him), just needs a little muscle to be built up. I added beet pulp to his diet and it noticable has bulked up his ribs and flanks without adding weight to his belly (which is what I'm trying to avoid since he has a beer belly lol) Once he is sound again and riding everyday he should be back to his massive self.

There is a girl at my barn who has a QH/TB and she said that it is nearly impossible to keep weight on Roxy once it starts getting cold because of her TB lines. Is it cold outside at the barn you were visiting?
    10-06-2011, 01:29 PM
Not to sound like the beet pulp police but do you have that in your diet? Copper is the same way, top ribs showing and flanks look a little thin and in less than a month the beet pulp has really started to fill him out nicely.
    10-06-2011, 01:34 PM
You should never see ribs. You should beable to feel them, but not see them.

There are many upper level eventing mounts, who wont show ribs. They are physically fit, healthy and very athletic - and you wont see ribs on them. I can go to Rolex and watch the trot sets, and I will rarely see a horse showing ribs.

Extremely fit horses, should not show ribs.

You shouldn't see ribs.
    10-06-2011, 01:49 PM
^^^^^ How so very much I am in agreement with MIEventer!!! Having been to the 2004 Rolex all the TB's were in excellent flesh and condition. The ribs should not be seen, but can be felt on palpation.
    10-06-2011, 02:37 PM
Super Moderator
MI, sadly you are incorrect in this. I've ridden too many upper level event horses to be far wrong here.

If you look closely at some of these horses at Rolex, especially the close-ups due to video quality, you will see some ribs.

Definite ribs showing

Greys are really hard to see, but they are evident here

Seen in lower ribcage

In no way did I say they would all be ribby, but many will have some visible rib evident. These horses are not malnourished in any way. If they were, they would never make it around an XC course.
    10-06-2011, 02:41 PM
Super Moderator
Those were, mostly Burghley. I forgot Badminton

These are just like our ultra marathon athletes. They have almost no subcutaneous fat. You can see every muscle and vein on these people/horses.

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