Getting and keeping weight on a senior horse
 
 

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Getting and keeping weight on a senior horse

This is a discussion on Getting and keeping weight on a senior horse within the Horse Nutrition forums, part of the Horse Health category
  • Keeping weight on senior horses

 
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    08-26-2013, 12:21 AM
  #1
Weanling
Getting and keeping weight on a senior horse

My senior horse is between 15 and 20 years old. Teeth last floated at the end of December. Last wormed in May. He is in regular but not excessive work, walking between 10 and 20 miles per day.

During a rest stop of 7 weeks a couple of months ago, he dropped weight despite free choice grass and/or alfa hay plus a grain ration. This weight loss takes the form of muscle loss - he has never been a fat horse or an easy keeper. It's particularly noticeable along his topline and rump. Since then, I just can't get any weight on him.
I have wavered over whether he might be a Cushing's candidate. He is a hairy boy but we're coming out of winter here and he has always grown a polar-bear coat : he has zero laminitic issues : he seems to be slower to heal up his scrapes : water intake hasn't changed. Inconclusive...

I would put him somewhere between 2 and 3 on a condition score :( he has kept a round belly. However, he has plenty of energy and is bright and alert. He has plenty of appetite. Poop is normal and doesn't show excessive unchewed grain. He was on a multivitamin supplement for two months without me seeing any difference.

I have 3 weeks to rest up my horses and try and get some weight onto him. He is currently on 24/7 turnout on green pasture with 24hr round bale access as the basis for everything. His grain ration is between 2 and 4lb dry weight per day.

Tomorrow I go feed shopping. Being in Bolivia, I simply don't have access to 'prepared' feeds or supplements. I have access to the basic grains (corn, oats) plus sorghum, oil, sugar, maybe some flax seed if I'm lucky. I hope to find some alfalfa hay, too.

What am I not thinking of or not seeing? How can I get some weight onto him and keep it there?
     
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    08-26-2013, 12:24 AM
  #2
Banned
This is off topic, but where are you originally from Anna?
     
    08-26-2013, 12:34 AM
  #3
Weanling
Yes it is No reason not to ask, though. I'm from the UK.
     
    08-26-2013, 12:36 AM
  #4
Banned
Haha I had a horsey friend in high school NZ with same name and she was quite adventurous also!! Was starting to wonder if it was a small world!
     
    08-26-2013, 12:49 AM
  #5
Weanling
I went to primary school in NZ! But by the time secondary came around I was in the UK. Still makes a small world, though...
     
    08-26-2013, 12:51 AM
  #6
Banned
Quote:
Originally Posted by AnnaHalford    
I went to primary school in NZ! But by the time secondary came around I was in the UK. Still makes a small world, though...
You weren't in Hawkes Bay were you? Oh gee!! Oh goodness I'm derailing your thread!!!
     
    08-26-2013, 12:56 AM
  #7
Weanling
We both are... Anyway, no, not Hawkes' Bay (sadly, it's so pretty...).

Right, back to my skinny horse. Any ideas, anyone?
     
    08-26-2013, 12:59 AM
  #8
Banned
Flax and oats would be my go too for getting weight on. Sounds like he might have some kind of endocrine issue going on. DesertHorseWoman always has some useful advice, hope she sees this thread
     
    08-26-2013, 02:11 AM
  #9
Trained
Thanks, Muppet.....not sure if I can help, tho.
Hoping that he hasn't caught a bad bug somewhere along the way, might be lack of protein. If you can get alfalfa, that would be of help for sure, the flax also. If not, try for soybean meal. Good protein, lots of aminoacids, fat.
Giving the vit/ min constantly might be necessary.
I'd try really hard for the alfalfa, just in case you are dealing with Cushing's.
     
    08-27-2013, 02:42 PM
  #10
Weanling
Quote:
Originally Posted by deserthorsewoman    
Thanks, Muppet.....not sure if I can help, tho.
Hoping that he hasn't caught a bad bug somewhere along the way, might be lack of protein. If you can get alfalfa, that would be of help for sure, the flax also. If not, try for soybean meal. Good protein, lots of aminoacids, fat.
Giving the vit/ min constantly might be necessary.
I'd try really hard for the alfalfa, just in case you are dealing with Cushing's.
DHW, thanks for the advice. What he's getting now :
  • 24-hour grass hay access (he's taking advantage... )
  • 24-hour grass - it's not great grass but it's there
  • +/- 6lb whole oats divided into two feeds, smaller a.m. And larger p.m, with additional sorghum (you guys call it milo in the US, I think) bran making up about a quarter of the total feed volume.
  • Prob. About 10lb daily of green chop : a mix of sorghum / sugarcane / some other kind of bamboo-type grass that I don't know the name of.

Plus the occasional carrot and free-access rock salt. No luck so far finding alfalfa, it doesn't seem to grow round here, so I am looking for alfa cubes/pellets. I have a possible lead on rice bran and I hadn't thought of soybean products : I have put some feelers out.

He did have a period of intermittent diarrhoea a month or so ago, it lasted for about nine days - some days he was sh*tting water, other days he just had really soft poop. I put it down to some scummy water he'd been delighting in wandering around in in his field, dropped his grain ration, upped his alfalfa and hay, and limited his access to green grass until it all firmed up.

I don't think it's a lack of protein in general because up until about ten days ago, they were getting amost exclusively alfalfa hay for forage, as well as whatever they were grazing along the way. I normally try and obtain a minimum of 100lb of forage for a night, so around 25lb per horse per night.

They just finished up a sack of corn - he was getting around 3-4lb per day - and have gone onto oats, so he has a moderate fat intake. I tried once or twice to blanket him when it was below zero but he loathed and abhorred it - plus he has a bear coat - so I gave up.

Anyone else? Thoughts?
     

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