Horse Doesn't Gain Weight

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Horse Doesn't Gain Weight

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  • Horses which don't put on weight
  • Horse doesnt gain weight

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  • 3 Post By themacpack

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    05-20-2012, 04:12 PM
Horse Doesn't Gain Weight

My horse Rusty is an 11 year old Quarter Horse that looks more Thoroughbred than anything. My problem is that I cannot get him to gain weight. He has a smaller, longer frame to begin with, so that doesn't help. I feed him 2 scoops of Nutrena Safe Choice horse feed every morning and night, and he gets roughly half of a square bale a day. He's out with three other horses but is the alpha horse so food shouldn't be a problem. He's muscling nice and has filled out a bit since he got back in shape, but still does not gain weight. He has a jumping lesson once a week and then whatever intermittent riding I can fit in. You can feel his ribs and sometimes can see their outline. Here's a picture of him this past fall that you can look at.

I don't want people to think that I neglect my horse or anything because of his weight! What are some tips/suggestions/comments that you have?
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    05-20-2012, 04:18 PM
Green Broke
He doesn't look that bad to me - where is it you see that you want to add the weight? Being able to FEEL ribs is a good thing - they should be easily palpable, under a thin covering....NOT being able to feel ribs is an indicator of a horse carrying an excess layer of fat. A picture of his current condition would be much more helpful in seeing what is concerning you than a picture that is from last fall.
"Scoops" and "x part of bales" are not good measurements - especially when you are daling with a weight challenge (either gaining or losing). Your first step needs to be establish exactly how much, in weight, you are feeding your horse. Only then can you identify the areas in which you can/should increase feed.
For a weight challenged horse free choice hay is the first stop, imo.
loosie, smrobs and verona1016 like this.
    05-22-2012, 06:40 PM
Have you had his teeth checked out?
    05-23-2012, 03:43 PM
He got his teeth floated about a year and a half ago, and they really didn't need to be floated then even (he had never had it done). When he eats. Feed doesn't drop out of his mouth or anything. Same with hay.
    05-24-2012, 11:57 PM
Originally Posted by Corazon Lock    
He got his teeth floated about a year and a half ago, and they really didn't need to be floated then even (he had never had it done). When he eats. Feed doesn't drop out of his mouth or anything. Same with hay.
Agree with Mack, that he's not looking at all underweight in that pic, and if you CAN'T feel his ribs easily, that is an indication of a weight problem. Overweight is a health problem while a tad underweight generally isn't anyway. Perhaps you're just comparing him with other 'bulldog' type QH's, or just used to looking at overweight horses.

On the above note, if your horse hadn't ever had his teeth floated before, that would be extremely rare if he 'didn't really need them done', unless perhaps he was only a year or so old, and horses should get their teeth seen to yearly on average(more often for young or very old animals). Dropping food is not a necessary symptom of bad teeth. If your equine dentist told you those things, I would definitely consider a second opinion with a qualified dentist.

But anyway, assuming you do still feel the need to put weight on him, splitting his feeds into more small meals daily, or giving him free access in a slow feeder would help. More hay, if he'll eat it, and a portion of that as alfalfa would help too. Ensuring he's getting well balanced nutrition is also important, as he may not be lacking calories, but the nutrients to utilise his food effectively. Other considerations are treating for worms & ulcers.
    05-25-2012, 01:33 AM
Is he being regularly dewormed on a rotational schedule? I agree that you should feed by weight and not by quantity. I'm not familiar with Nutrena SafeChoice, but make sure that "2 scoops" is the amount recommended for a horse his size. Another option would be to switch him to a higher protein feed, like a senior feed. Senior feed has been my go-to for a horse that just needs those extra pounds.

There are all sorts of supplements to look into – I don't want to start recommending them since I don't know much about your horse. SmartPak is a really great place to get them. If you go to their website ( you can take a quiz that can help point you in the right direction for what your horse needs. The costumer service is great, the products are great and reasonably priced, and I am a happy costumer!!


In addition, make sure that he has free choice salt. In the pastures, with multiple horses, it's a good idea to purchase two 50lb salt blocks (a white salt and a mineral lick), so the horses have all they need and can pick and choose between the two to get what they need that day. I am a huge advocate for Himalayan salt licks and have had great results with them! The horses can't bite off chunks and they don't dissolve in the rain!

Is he getting his monthly dose of psyllium? If he's not, he could be sandy. Make sure he's getting SandClear or another form of psyllium once a month for one week.

He's not underweight, but is almost on that line. He is a little bit lacking of muscle over his topline, which is contributing to the "thin" appearance. Building that up through collection work under saddle and lounging with side reins and a surcingle (only do this if you know the proper adjustment of these training aids with the help of a trainer) will help.

Good luck, and keep us updated!! :)
    05-25-2012, 01:38 AM
The festival's got a Mexican Mustang named Dill who's got a pretty high metabolism. Like your horse, he's a hard keeper when it comes to feed. We double the grain intake that the other horses get, including hay, but we also give him oil to help him gain weight. So far it's doing pretty well.

One thing to note about doing oil, though: It's a diarhetic, so start with a low portion and slowly work your way up. For proper portioning, you might want to consult with a vet if you decide to take this route.

Oh, and if you're needing something to try and clear out sand from his intestines, we feed our horses equine senior due to that it helps prevent collic.
    05-25-2012, 04:47 AM
Originally Posted by Deschutes    
One thing to note about doing oil, though: It's a diarhetic, so start with a low portion and slowly work your way up.
I thought diuretics were about increased urination & didn't know that about oil, but because it's not readily digestible, it does have the tendency to give horses diarrhoea, which is what I think you may mean? Horses don't naturally have the enzymes necessary to digest fats, but can develop them. Oils/fats should only be fed if they can be fed little & often. They should be fed in very small quantities, and started off very gradually - eg. Build up over a couple of weeks at least.
    05-25-2012, 05:24 AM
Green Broke
We have a horse a lot like yours. Long body, high withers and hard to keep weight on. What has worked for us is beet pulp. I don't weigh how much they get either but they have free choice hay all day. For eight horses, we put out 4 to 5 bales a day so they get about a half bale a day. During the summer we give a feed scoop of soaked beet pulp. We double or triple it in the winter. It won't cause colic or founder and is easily digestible. We've been feeding that for a few years and have never had any horse choke, even the ones that inhale their feed.

In 6 years, we've only had one of our horses teeth floated. They get checked every spring by the vet but they haven't needed it. Even our two 6 year olds which have never had their teeth floated. We also have a 17 year old that has good teeth and we don't know when she ever had them done. A lot of teeth problems occur when horses are stalled and are not able to graze all day.
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