03-26-2010, 11:42 PM
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If alot of adult horses have it, it's most likely a viral infection and the common causes of upper respiratory infections in horses is Influenza the other is Equine Herpes Virus (rhino). So, you are right that it's not really a good choice to have a show in a barn with an upper respiratory infection. They tend to be highly contageous and these two viral infections can both have serious consequences--they aren't just a nuisance.
For putting weight on a hard keeper, I would recommend that you allow free choice forage and then add a fat supplement to the diet. Fat provides a concentrated source of easily digested energy without the high carb level and thus jump in blood glucose that you get with grains. Fat also doesn't come with the increased risk of laminitis, gastric ulcers or colic that you get when you increase grains in the diet. You can simply use vegetable oil, flaxseed oil, or even sunflower seed oil to add to the diet. Start slowly and you can safely work up to 1-2 cups a day.