I all, I was wondering if perhaps you might be able to help shed some light on a situation that I’ve recently encountered. There is a horse that I work with in which the owners claim he displays a “hay belly”. The horse is a 5 year old Standardbred gelding who was just recently purchased this year. When bought, the owners claim that he was in excellent body condition and health. After owning this horse for about 5 months, however, they started to notice a lack of rib coverage and an extended “hay belly”. They also mentioned that they had had a previous horse, though much older, who displayed similar symptoms.
I have personally seen this horse and he appears to be in decent body condition (roughly a 4 BCS). His coat appears healthy and with shine to it. He is routinely de-wormed with Ivermectin and safeguard de-wormers. They are uncertain if the horse had ever raced or not (still awaiting a little more background history)
He receives 2 flakes of grass hay morning and evening (approximately 4 flakes total) of which quality we are unsure of. The hay appears dust and mold free, but is considerably bleached on the outside. The inside of the bales do appear to be a dull green with some leaf but do contain a considerable amount of stem (I’d speculate roughly 8 – 10% protein). He does have some access to a small 1 ˝ acre pasture, but for only a few hours each week when not working. He also receives a scoop full of 11% grain (a majority of crimped oats, supplement pellet, 4% fat from soybean oil, and some flaked corn) morning and evening. His water bowl is clean and his water intake appears fine, though someone apparently had suggested to them to have their water tested for bacteria since that may be the reason why?
Typically a horse that is healthy otherwise, but that is both ribby and has a hay belly, is most likely receiving large amounts of forage that is not quite meeting caloric and/or protein needs, so could it be possible that this horse is just receiving too low quality forage? What suggestions might one make in correcting this dilemma?
Thank you in advance for your suggestions, advice, and ideas!