I'm been having some problems with Baby Girl recently. We've been doing 50 miles rides every other weekend, plus moderate riding in between. She's gradually lost weight all season, but two weeks ago I really noticed. I could see her ribs. Her neck no longer ties "smoothly" into the rest of her body. No crease down her back; a decent ridge though. I sat on her bareback, and I could strongly feel her spine and withers. Her body score is usually on the heavy end of a 5, but she's dropped to a 4 at least.
She has 24/7 round bale access. She eats 2 pounds a day of alfalfa cubes and 2 cups a day of oil (along with a multivitamin, electrolytes, and a digestive supplement). What should I increase? Advice?
I have three weeks until my next 50, and then a long break over the summer to get her back looking normal.
Is she getting any grain? She may need more protein like oats. Despite claims that feeding oats is on par with the plague it is a good safe feed and the only thing that helps heal hind gut ulcers. Speaking of which, has she been checked for ulcers or sharp teeth?
No grain. PSSM horses can't have grain. Oats, grains, and the like are all too high in NSC for horses like her. Ugh.
She's never been scoped/vetted for ulcers, but she has "ulcer like issues" that cleared up after I stopped working for her a while and gave her U-guard for a couple months. She got her teeth checked earlier in the spring. The vet said I would probably need to float next year.
Not much trouble at the rides. She's still a consistent placer; great metabolics, conditioning, no trouble/concerns from the vet. I have had to push her more recently to keep her speed up. I've never had to push her to keep a pace before. It's slight, but I've noticed.
For reference, here's how she normally looks, even in competition condition. (Don't mind her dirtiness/winter coat!)
With the recent colic and potential previous ulcers combined with decreased drive/stamina I would definitely consider ulcers- they could be a cause or a result of systemic stress, but either way, they would make it very hard for you to get weight on her.
What I've seen suggested is to add a low sugar feed like Ultium,eg something rice bran or beet pulp based, once you've maxed out the oil. If she's already getting two cups a day, I would think that you're already there. The rice bran and BP both are low/no sugar as the calories in them come from the VFAs from hind-gut fermentation. Maybe start upping those? I know at least with beet pulp, there really is no set 'max' on how much you can safely feed, so once you get her eating it, you could easily feed 5+ lbs a day to put some weight back on her.
Edited (I misread) I would certainly ease up (though don't stop with PSSM) on the work outs for a few weeks until she starts heading in the right direction, or at least stops losing weight.