Ribs showing, but not thin? - The Horse Forum
LinkBack Thread Tools
post #1 of 13 Old 10-06-2011, 01:01 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Jun 2008
Posts: 573
• Horses: 0
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?


" If the entire world was one big machine, I couldn't be an extra part. I had to be here for some reason." ~ Hugo Cabret
Lonannuniel is offline  
Sponsored Links
post #2 of 13 Old 10-06-2011, 01:15 PM
Super Moderator
Join Date: Oct 2009
Location: Chapel Hill, NC
Posts: 16,320
• Horses: 0
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.
Allison Finch is offline  
post #3 of 13 Old 10-06-2011, 01:19 PM
Green Broke
Join Date: Jun 2010
Location: Alberta, Canada
Posts: 4,336
• Horses: 2
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.

"If a horse fails to do something that is because he was not trained to do it. If a horse fails to do something properly that is because he was not trained properly."
lilruffian is offline  
post #4 of 13 Old 10-06-2011, 01:23 PM
Join Date: Jun 2011
Posts: 384
• Horses: 0
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 :)
Posted via Mobile Device
Dresden is offline  
post #5 of 13 Old 10-06-2011, 01:26 PM
Join Date: Oct 2011
Location: Auburn, Washington
Posts: 115
• Horses: 1
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?
The Copper Kid is offline  
post #6 of 13 Old 10-06-2011, 01:29 PM
Join Date: Oct 2011
Location: Auburn, Washington
Posts: 115
• Horses: 1
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.
The Copper Kid is offline  
post #7 of 13 Old 10-06-2011, 01:34 PM
Join Date: Feb 2009
Location: Eventing Country
Posts: 8,220
• Horses: 0
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.

MIEventer is offline  
post #8 of 13 Old 10-06-2011, 01:49 PM
Join Date: Jan 2011
Location: Southwest Missouri
Posts: 924
• Horses: 1
^^^^^ 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.
candandy49 is offline  
post #9 of 13 Old 10-06-2011, 02:37 PM
Super Moderator
Join Date: Oct 2009
Location: Chapel Hill, NC
Posts: 16,320
• Horses: 0
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.
Allison Finch is offline  
post #10 of 13 Old 10-06-2011, 02:41 PM
Super Moderator
Join Date: Oct 2009
Location: Chapel Hill, NC
Posts: 16,320
• Horses: 0
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.
Allison Finch is offline  

Quick Reply

Register Now

In order to be able to post messages on the The Horse Forum forums, you must first register.

Already have a Horse Forum account?
Members are allowed only one account per person at the Horse Forum, so if you've made an account here in the past you'll need to continue using that account. Please do not create a new account or you may lose access to the Horse Forum. If you need help recovering your existing account, please Contact Us. We'll be glad to help!

New to the Horse Forum?
Please choose a username you will be satisfied with using for the duration of your membership at the Horse Forum. We do not change members' usernames upon request because that would make it difficult for everyone to keep track of who is who on the forum. For that reason, please do not incorporate your horse's name into your username so that you are not stuck with a username related to a horse you may no longer have some day, or use any other username you may no longer identify with or care for in the future.

User Name:
Please enter a password for your user account. Note that passwords are case-sensitive.


Confirm Password:
Email Address
Please enter a valid email address for yourself.

Email Address:


Human Verification

In order to verify that you are a human and not a spam bot, please enter the answer into the following box below based on the instructions contained in the graphic.

Old Thread Warning
This thread is more than 90 days old. When a thread is this old, it is often better to start a new thread rather than post to it. However, If you feel you have something of value to add to this particular thread, you can do so by checking the box below before submitting your post.

Thread Tools
Show Printable Version Show Printable Version
Email this Page Email this Page

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Are her ribs showing, Picture. TeddybearLove Horse Nutrition 31 05-09-2011 11:06 PM
Can see my geldings ribs RoxanneElizabeth Horse Nutrition 25 04-28-2011 01:04 PM
FAT but ribs are showing? gizpeptig Horse Health 6 07-13-2010 01:05 PM

Posting Rules  
You may post new threads
You may post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are On
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are On

For the best viewing experience please update your browser to Google Chrome