To Skinny?

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To Skinny?

This is a discussion on To Skinny? within the Horse Health forums, part of the Keeping and Caring for Horses category

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    02-06-2011, 11:34 PM
To Skinny?

So I've had my mare at home since January 1st. To me it looks like she's lost some weight and I'm constantly worrying if she is to skinny or if she's perfect. As for food she gets 2 scoops{3 lbs maybe} of a sweet feed/complete feed mix every am and pm. She gets 2 flakes of an alfalfa/grass hay mix and 2 flakes of a canary/slew hay mix every am and pm also. I jsut worry that she's not getting enough food. At the barn she was at she had 24/7 access to hay but didn't recieve any grain. Also, should I be giving her supplements or anything extra? I see so many performance horses getting stuff like vitamins, bute, fat supplement, equilick and other stuff, I have no clue what they do.

Here are some before and after pics. I realize they're not the best and I'm sorry for that.



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    02-07-2011, 12:10 AM
Green Broke
Honestly, I can't tell with these two pics. You need a close up of the horse without you or tack on.
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    02-07-2011, 12:21 AM
I agree, it's hard to tell from those pictures, but based on what I'm seeing, she looks fine.

My general rule is if you can feel the ribs but you can't see them, then they're at a good weight. If you can see the ribs, they need more weight; if you can't feel them, they need to lose a few! That's just me though-- not sure if it's the right way to do it, but it's worked for me!

I fret, too, as I just took my horses off my mom's property for the first time when I moved out. I'm a nervous wreck making sure that they have everything they need and that they're taken care of!! You'll be fine-- just keep loving and taking care of them, and keep coming here to ask questions! There are so many knowledgeable people here that are willing to answer any questions you (or I) have!!
    02-07-2011, 12:22 AM
Of course, it is harder to tell in the winter whether they're at a bad weight because of that poofy winter coat!
    02-07-2011, 12:31 AM
Thanks guys. I'll try and go out tomorrow to get some pictures of just her. I haven't actually checked her ribs which I realize is really dumb. I check the other 2 boys ribs periodically throughout the winter but totally spaced when it came to her. Guess I'll be doing that tomorrow too.

I think I'm jsut fretting over nothing. To me her stifle?{flank maybe?}, the place where her barrel meets her back legs, often seems a little sunken in these days. Bah, maybe I'm jsut being a worry wort.
    02-07-2011, 12:39 AM
Its just the winter squeeze! It doesn't look like any significant weight loss. But if you do plan to start feeding her more, be careful about her colicing. Another thing to look into is a hay stretcher pellet or fat supplement along with her grain
    02-07-2011, 01:03 AM
Yea I was wondering about vitamins and supplements. What is out there and how do you know what kind and how much to use? I have never given supplements before and there are so many I jsut don't have the knowledge to choose one and neither does my mom.
    02-07-2011, 05:38 AM
She's a beautiful mare. It sounds like you're doing everything right. That sounds like the right amount of feed and hay for her. You don't need any supplements, the feed has everything in it in the way of vitamins and minerals. I would'nt get into additives or you'll screw up the balance that the feed has in it. That gap in her hip may just be lack of muscle since it's winter and she doesn't get that much exercise. If you run your fingers over her ribs and don't feel them then she's fine.
    02-07-2011, 08:52 AM
Green Broke
If you're worried about her weight in the winter, just increase her hay. Hay helps keep the horse warm from the inside as well.

If you cannot increase her hay for whatever reason, add alfalfa pellets to her diet. Alfalfa is high in protein, digestible energy, and lysine (an amino acid good for muscle development). A 3 qt scoop of most alfalfa pellets will weigh 3-3.5 lbs, so adding 1 scoop a day to her diet would be a good start. Usually, 3-5 lbs a day is the right amount for supplementing alfalfa in a grass hay diet.

If you want even more calories, you could go with a fat source like drizzy suggested. I prefer flax meal. Your local feed store should be able to order it for you, if they don't have any in stock. Flax is high in Omega 3 fatty acids, which is the best kind of fat for overall health (good skin/hair/feet). 1 cup will hold about 4 oz of flax by weight. You can feed up to 1 lb of flax safely, about 4 cups. 1-2 cups a day is usually enough for weight gain though, 1/2 - 1 cup for maintanence.
    02-07-2011, 08:58 AM
Green Broke
Sweet feed is not that great for horses. It's like feeding them super sugary cereal. It's got vitamins in it, but it's not really the best way to get those vitamins in the horse.

I make my own feed using alfalfa pellets, a vit/min supplement, and flax. It's healthier for the horse and you can control how much feed without effecting their vitamin intake. Good vitamins include Grand Vite,'s High Point, Uckele's Equi-Base Grass, SmartPak's SmartVite line, etc.

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