weight loss - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 5 Old 11-23-2009, 07:02 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Nov 2009
Location: Jasper, Al
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weight loss

Can anyone give me any suggestions concerning weight loss in a horse? One of my horses is 24-25 years old and I noticed progressive weight loss in him. His teeth were floated last year and he is wormed monthly (rotating wormers). I came up with a concoction of beet pulp (soaked), Mazola corn oil, 10% sweet feed, and Calfmanna (a lot I know). He eats every bite. I have noticed some weight gain, but not enough to satisfy me. I can still see ribs and his spine. I am very disturbed by this and feel that everything I'm putting in him ought to have him big as the side of a barn by now (feeding this for several weeks now). He seems happy and does not appear to have any internal issues. I feel maybe I should switch to Omolene and maybe add the Calfmanna. Cost wise, maybe I am buying too much stuff for him. I just don't know. All of the others look great, it is just him. I've had horses for over 20 years and have had this horse a long time, but he is actually the oldest horse I've ever had and really don't know what to feed him I guess.
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post #2 of 5 Old 11-23-2009, 10:34 PM
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Location: Kansas, USA
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Aside from the usual "have the vet check his teeth" etc, I would say it's quite possible he just needs more hay, if he's able to chew it, rather than more sugary sweet feeds. Calories from fiber do more for a horse than sugar and starch.

Older horses start to loose muscle tone as they age, mostly around the topline, and at some point, you simply can't get away from that ribby look in some old ones. I have one that is 26 and perpetually ribby, and swaybacked, with a prominant spine, but the vet says' he is healthy, just old. If you've had your horse's teeth worked on, not wormy or suffering from any other obvious health issues, it could be he's jus turned that corner in his life.

Oh, and personally I'm not a fan of over-worming horses, and it can be hard on some them. The deworming could actually contribute to digestive problems (killing off healthy gut flora), so deworming only when a need presents itself and feeding a pro-biotic can go a long way to help him out.

Also, some people feed bute on a frequent basis to older horses for arthritis or whatever, and that could cause ulcers, which in turn could affect his weight, so use them judiciously if you need to administer them at all.
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post #3 of 5 Old 11-24-2009, 09:27 AM Thread Starter
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Thank you and I wonder if I may ask, what do you feed your older horse aside from the hay? I would just like to find a good combination for him without "over-doing" it.
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post #4 of 5 Old 11-24-2009, 10:46 AM
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We have an older horse at my barn, about the same age as your guy, and he is also on the down hill. He gets Nutrena Senior feed for breakfast/dinner always soaked so that its nice and mushy, and he also gets a combination of beet pulp/senior feed for lunch. He's turned out on a very lush grass pasture (the only grass pasture we have) and I think is also on 4 or 5 flakes a day.

However, he is also in liver failure. If they don't feed him what he's getting he loses weight, but if they feed him the food he's on, his liver starts slowly shutting down for some reason or another (not my horse, so I don't know the specifics). His quality of life is still decent, so until he starts to really take a turn for the worse, he's just a pasture pet. You say he appears to have no internal issues, but have you called the vet out to check?

I also agree that worming monthly, especially in the winter months is a little over kill. From January to November, I worm every other month on rotating wormers.
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post #5 of 5 Old 11-24-2009, 02:29 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Nov 2009
Location: Jasper, Al
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Unfortunately, the "vet" in my area is not the greatest and was not very thorough in his check of the horse and in so many words stated "that is normal for his age." I used this guy a time or two after, and to me, he is sub-standard and I will not be using him any more, for any reason. The every-other-month worming is a good idea and I will begin doing that. The hay in my area is not the greatest either, but not a big choice there. I've tried many different folks that make a claim to having "good hay." I don't have lush pastures, but I do have pasture that right now is clover and rye. I thought about trying just feeding the beet pulp and add alfalfa pellets to supplement the not so great hay. Alafalfa is very rich, so I didn't want to colic him. For a period of time, I also had him on Focus SR. I don't want to lag on about this, but I believe I have tried almost everything and have really sunk some money into trying different things. I don't want to keep messing with his feedings, as that is no good for him either. It just breaks my heart to see his ribs, as I know that I have tried everything. Now, I have only been putting the beet pulp in the evening feed. Will it be all right to give in the morning as well to up the fiber? I apologize, I don't mean to sound like a goober, I just have never had a horse who is into the senior years, only young and mid age. All the help is appreciated
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