Very old Horse

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Very old Horse

This is a discussion on Very old Horse within the Horse Health forums, part of the Keeping and Caring for Horses category

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    06-18-2009, 11:40 AM
Very old Horse

There is an Arab at my barn and he is the oldest horse I have ever met. The vet estimates he's about 40 years old. He has 4 teeth on top and 4 teeth on bottom. He was rescued by his owner about 10 years ago.

The problem is, we're having trouble keeping weight on him. He is like skin and bones. He gets fed 3 times a day, all mushy stuff. Senior feed watered into a mush, alfalfa cubes in mush form, sometimes applesauce just because he loves it, but he never seems to get fatter. This summer has been the worst, because the winter really did him in. He goes out daily and runs like a fruit (he is still soundish and will trot everywhere when he's happy, like after a bath).

He tends to eat more when we give him loads of attention, like he's doing us the favor of eating in exchange for grooming and scratching.

Anyone know a good way to help him put on weight?
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    06-18-2009, 11:53 AM
Super Moderator
With that age he may just stay skinny at this point. I personally wouldn't cram tons of supplements into him or anything. I might think about switching to a different senior feed slowly over time to see if a different brand has more of what he needs. I use Triple Crown Senior for my boys and I know that their digestive tracts and weight seems to react better to it then to the Purina version.

I would also let him graze. Grass tends to get there appetites going. But it sounds like they are doing the best they can for the old guy. As long as he is happy and healthy I wouldnt go crazy trying to get too much weight on him...But that is just my opinion.
    06-18-2009, 12:18 PM
Has he been dewormed regularly? How about adding a pro-biotic? How many pounds of feed is he getting?

We have a POA who is close to that age and has a total of 5 teeth. She's feed 9 pounds of soaked hay cubes split into 4 meals and 3 cups of Life Line All Phase, which is a high fat non-grain based feed. We do let her have a little grazing time but she's prone for founder so it has to really be limited. She's 650 pounds, so no weight problems, although she does have an old ladies belly and no top line to speak of LOL. He may just be at the end of his time. I guess upping his mushy meals and yes some grass might help.

    06-18-2009, 01:15 PM
Green Broke
I agree on deworming. I'd go with a double dose of Pyrantel now and Zimectrin Gold in 4 weeks. That should clean him out.

I would increase the alfalfa, though I might change to alfalfa pellets. They are more processed, so easier for him to digest. Feed him 3 lbs per meal (twice daily) soaked, along with his senior feed.

I would add to his diet Nutra Flax:
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Call or email customer service and tell them what you have. Ask about adding probiotics, yeast, MSM, and anything else they recommend for an old horse on his diet. You want an 8 oz serving total, so he's getting as much fat as possible.

Letting him out to graze is important for his health and mental sanity. He should have as much turn out as possible. The grass will be good for him too.
    06-18-2009, 01:25 PM
He has been dewormed. He goes out in a grass field almost every day, we hand graze him sometimes but his lack of teeth makes grazing hard. Thanks for the advice about the food though
    06-18-2009, 01:31 PM
Green Broke
Check on what he was dewormed with. Products containing oxibendazole and fenbendazole are not effective in adult horses in 90% of North America. I only deworm with Ivermectin, Pyrantel (double douse), and Moxidectin, with once a year either Ivermectin or Moxidectin with Praziquantel.
    06-18-2009, 01:37 PM
Good suggestions everyone. At this point, it may be impossible to keep very much weight on him but so long as he is healthy, then fat takes a long second. Do you have pictures of the old guy? I love old horses.
    06-18-2009, 02:57 PM
I have to disagree on the feeding recommendations for giving alfalfa pellets or cubes. Since this guy is lacking in teeth, feeds that are designed for horses that can chew are not the best choice. He really should be on a complete senior feed because these products are designed to provide all the required nutrition (including forage) in a form that can be digested even by horses who are lacking the ability to chew. They are also nutritionally balanced for senior horses whereas alfalfa is too high in protein and in a 40 year old horse it's very possible that there is an underlying kidney deficiency that is simply not serious enough for there to be outward symptoms but which can be exacerbated by high protein diets. So for nutritional balance and digestibility, a complete feed is a much better choice.

A product like Equine Senior by Purina fed according to the label is a much better choice for these horses over 28 years of age.
    06-18-2009, 04:33 PM
Green Broke
Originally Posted by Ryle    
I have to disagree on the feeding recommendations for giving alfalfa pellets or cubes.
SOAKED Alfalfa pellets work very well for horses with dental issues, as they are highly processed and digest easily. He's already on a senior feed, hopefully getting plenty. Adding soaked alfalfa pellets is a good way to get added calories, nutrients, and amino acids into the horse's diet.
    06-18-2009, 04:45 PM
Super Moderator
There is a hay additive that you can get and soak as well. It comes in a pelletized form.

arab, mush, old horse, weight gain

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