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Oldest Horse In The Barn

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    07-26-2012, 09:02 PM
Originally Posted by Blue    
Thanks Bloo. If you don't mind my asking what high fat/low protein pellets do you use and what were his symptoms when he was double with the protein?
This is going to be quite lengthy as I'm a total expert

It's called 'the black bag' it's 10-12% protein and 14-16% fat.

Normal senior feeds are between 14-18% protein and 2-10% fat and when I fed him one of those he would act like a sugar high child in a straight jacket, he'd quiver and flinch away from touches but he'd almost never move. When I'd take him out just to check him over and get him moving he'd walk like he had no control over his legs, collapsing in the back or wobbling around. There was also a lot of swelling in his legs but it wasn't hot.

He's always been on 24 hour turn out so I thought he'd eaten some poisonous plant and it was neurological the way it presented itself but he was coherent and when I changed his feed to hay saver he was a completely different horse. I tried a few different senior feeds but every time I put him on one he'd revert back so my vet checked the brand's I'd used and she told me that his problem was that there was a lot more pepsin in his stomach than there should have been at his age, which was digesting the protein faster than his body could use it. The build up of it was poisoning him.

He's a hard keeper so he was getting 4 qts of grain twice a day to keep the weight on but he dropped weight and I honestly thought I was going to have to put him down. I went through a few vets to see what the general consensus of his condition was but none of them said they same thing and nothing any of the suggested helped until I went to my current vet.

Now he gets 1 qt of grain twice a day and rice bran oil, which is a fat supplement, to compensate for the lack of grain. He essentially gets all his energy now from fat now. I also have to watch out about what kind of hay I give him, he can't have alfalfa or clover hay but I've found that timothy, orchard grass, Bermuda grass or mixes of the three are fine on most occasions.
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    07-26-2012, 11:02 PM
Green Broke
Hmmmm... Very interesting Bloo. I'm going to check on some things that I've been feeding. I've tried Purina Equine Sr. (which everyone swears by) and had horrible experience. Now I am trying Nutrena Sr. Which has not molasses. So... a little history.

Bart came to me an a$$hole! He started out a stallion owned by a young girl who wanted to show. She couldn't handle him, so their vet said you need to geld him. However this girls father really liked the look of the crested neck, and lifted tail... you get my drift. So, the vet (moron) says well we can keep that but make his behavior milder. Right. So they proud cut him at 8 yrs old. The girl still couldn't handle him so they started trying more and more severe bits. You can imagine where that went. The father finally gave up and sold him to my sister in law. She rode him once or twice around the block and then said her knees were so bad she just couldn't anymore. Result: backyard pet for 4 years.

When she heard that I was looking for a horse and what my budget was she need X amount of dollars and the deal was done. I acquired a horse that ruled the roost and was about 150 lbs overweight. I started playing around with bits and as it turned out his mouth was so soft we had to go to a hackamore until we got his weight where it should be, then started all over again. Many falls and broken bones (mine) and somebody told me about bermuda hay. I immediately switched to straight bermuda. No alfalfa, no grain, light colt snaffle bit, better saddle fit, etc. The list of changes was endless. Ok. Move up a couple of years. Turns out the big goober is gaited! Who knew! Still a handful, but I started going to all kinds of clinics and learning stuff. It helped. Turns out he's the best flippin' horse in the world and I love him to death. Ok. Flash forward 20 yrs. He's now about 30 years old. I still ride him, but selectively. I've entered in EXCA and he does well.

Whew! Now my questions. He's just beginning show a little age. In fact people have guessed his age at about 15yrs. I've added a little alfalfa, but that just doesn't seem to be doing what he needs. So, I bought this Nutrena Sr to see what affect it may have on him. I don't like the idea of all that sugar in some of the feeds. Not only is it just not good for them, but he's one of those unfortunate horses that naturally draws flys and sugar ain't helpin'. It's only been about a week, and the weather here has been so crappy that I haven't been able to ride to see how he's feeling. But, the Nutrena Sr. Says it has joint supplements in it. So, you say you're using grain. What kind? I can get almost anything, but not being an expert the wide array of choices can be confusing. I actually have about 2 square inches of natural bermuda pasture that he and my mare are allowed on for about 1-1/2 to 2 hrs a day, but that's only this time of year. We have very hard winters so in the fall I need to start building resistance to the cold.

Whew, (breath) is there something else I should try? I prefer to try something new for 3 to 4 weeks but any suggestions at all are appreciated. I have a horrible memory (15 yrs as a stay-at-home-mom) but I do have a little common sense. And, having Bart for almost 20 yrs now I know him pretty well. Ok, my fingers are tired! Again, input? Or am I doing ok for now?
    07-27-2012, 12:42 AM
Blue, first thing I can't resist, he's absolutely gorgeous! Is he a morgan? If you hadn't said he was gelded I would still be thinking he's a stallion, he's just got that pretty manly horse thing going for him.

How are his teeth? If he's not chewing as well as he could then the grain isn't getting digested properly thus the nutrients aren't getting absorbed.

Also another long one. I've got quite a bit to say about older horses.

I recommend extra fat to almost everyone but that's a really biased opinion. If it's weight you're worried about adding fat to his diet will do just that. When I figured out what grain I was going to use I started playing with supplements. I also use them for a few weeks then assess what changes I've noticed and if I've noticed an improvement then I keep it. When I started using the rice oil it took only a week before I noticed weight gain and in 6 weeks he had gained all of his lot weight back.

Older horses
usually need the extra protein as the age to keep their energy up. Grain companies also add sugars or carbs to help maintain energy and weight. The kicker is most Sr feeds haven't changed in the past century or longer. There have been a few more minerals added and feeding ratios adjusted but they are still made for horses that die at 25-30 or can't be worked in their old age. There is enough whatever in it to keep a horse maintained for an easy life for a few years. Now days with all the technology and vet care we have access to horses are living longer and the Sr years start later. But we are still advised to start Sr. Feed at 20. Because not all horses are dead at 30 anymore, feeds usually need to be adjusted. Bloo is a special case and needs different food for a different reason, but I usually recommend that people feed their horse for what they're doing with it. If the horse is a senior out in a paddock with no work done and slowly declining then a senior feed is great for them. On the other hand, if you've got a 35 year old horse that is still showing and being ridden on a regular basis then they need a food to compensate for the extra work or then need to be fed more of whatever food they're getting or have supplements added. I run barrels with Bloo every few weekends and show a few times in the summer, I trail ride him 2-3 times a week so a feed that is meant for a horse that doesn't get ridden and doesn't do anything won't cut it for his work load. I guess what I'm saying is that age is just a number even with horses, there is a stigma out there that a 20+ year old horse is old and needs to be treated that way. Getting rather ranty so I'll stop.

What happened to my horse was an extreme case of a rare defect. I asked five different vets what I should do before I got an answer that actually helped and Bloo was VERY sick by that time. Sick to the point that I'd started my goodbyes and called the fifth vet (one with an equine cemetery not for a fifth oppinion) to set a date for a few days later. If she hadn't asked about the situation I would have put him down. So I also always advise people to talk to their vets, and any other vet they can contact. Chances are one of them is bound to be an expert in the area you are concerned with or at least have more knowledge than others. My first vet was amazing in the knowledge of neurological disorders but knew little about digestive enzymes beyond what you can get in any vet book out there. It also doesn't hurt to gather that you can for the future. Grrr getting ranty again, my apologies.

And to back myself up a little bit so I'm not attacked for spewing straight bs, I grew up around hundreds of horses. As a child I would shadow the vet that took care of 80 of the horses my dad helped care for and I would ask questions about everything until the vet couldn't handle me and would yell at me to leave, then I would go find another vet on property and bother that one. I went to school to be specifically an equine vet and although I didn't graduate, due to my own personal reasons, I gained enough knowledge to work the jobs I do and offer advise when asked. Google is also my best friend. I've spent hours talking to people, going through my textbooks, and googling things if I'm not 100% sure on something.
    07-27-2012, 07:45 AM
Hi Blue and Bloo, I agree with Bloo - high protein and fat. I have two "oldies" now (26 and 16) and had a previous one who died in 2008 at the age of 28 - totally unexpectedly. I haven't had much luck with senior feed and the regular sweet feed is so high in sugar; I had to feed so much of it to my 26 yr old that she stopped eating all her hay - yuck, and my TB turned crazy!
I tried a ration balancer, but its not for horses who need fat - bad option for my guys. I hunted around and found a low starch, low sugar, high protein, high fat, lots of multi vit and AA, high in Biotin (for my TBs feet) and to boot had a significant amount of joint supplement and MSM and did I mention pro and pre-biotics. Pretty much everything I was looking for - and no extra supplements. It is reasonably priced and the horses love it and actually lick their bowls.
I have tried Nutrina, but found that although the horses like it, the new feed has more "groceries" in it and the bags are cheaper then Nutrina. Additionally, I don't need to feed lots of it - around 3lbs per horse/day (bag recommends 5-7lbs). The horses are 1100 and 1200lb and I would still like to see another 50lbs - I like mine at a body condition of 6. I feed about 16 and 18lbs of 1st cut orchard/alfalfa mix hay and 1 hour pasture turn out. I like it, they are still gaining the weight back from my bad decission to try a ration balancer and are looking much better.

This is a link to what I feed, but they have many other feed options as well.
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    07-27-2012, 11:36 AM
Green Broke
Wow! Thanks Bloo and Bink'. So much great info. Yes,he's 1/2 morgan and 1/2 QH. What is stilled called the original cavalry morgan around here. In his younger days he had awesome stamina. And when I say younger I mean up until about 26 years old we were still climbing mountains. Here's what I'm going to do for now. The Nutrena that I bought doesn't seem to be doing any actual harm and may even be helping a little bit. (need to go job hunting today so no ride until this evening) It is expensive however. Since Bart has always been such and easy keeper, and after reading what's been posted here, I'm going to try a whole new tack. In earlier years if he so much as looked at the neighbors pasture all day he'd gain weight. Some of that tendency is still with him. Since our summers are extremely hot and humid I prefer that he be a little leaner in the summer but allow him to gain some for our cold winters. So, here's another question. Just what is the protein makeup of alfalfa? If I feed him too much, he starts getting a little hyper, but his muscle tone looks good. I honestly feel like I'm over thinking this and should just go back to KEEP IT SIMPLE. I've tried dry c.o.b., but the corn in it isn't what we need. Would I be well off to mix my own oats and barley and just add a quality vitamin supplement. His teeth look good. I am going to have them checked soon for floating, same with my mare, but there is no quiding or unusual grinding going on so I don't think it's time to start soaking anything. And anyway, he doesn't seem to be lacking in actual nutrient absorption. I guess what I'm interested in is giving him (and me) the best possible quality of life for his remaining years.
    07-27-2012, 02:46 PM
Alfalfa is usually between 14-18% protein. Around here we call it rocket fuel because the high protein does give most horses tons of extra energy.

Oats are good, I like using then but I like whole oats better then rolled or crimped. I doubt there's really much of a difference nutritionally but I feel like it's nutritionally better whole, as I said it's probably just me. Rolled or crimped oats are good for soaking though because they will absorb some of the water and soften.
I don't know much about barley, it doesn't grow or sell well around where I am. I know it's hard and needs to be crushed before being fed and is usually given with molasses or shredded sugar beet because horses don't like the taste but that's the extent of my knowledge on the topic.
I've heard of people using them mixed with good results though I've never used them both myself. There is a good level of fat protein and fiber in the mix so I don't see how it would hinder him.

I'm a diy girl so I pretty much live by trial and error. I'll try anything within reason to better the quality of my horse's life and encourage others to do the same.
    07-27-2012, 03:29 PM
I've tried both whole and rolled oats neither really worked for my guys, but lots of people swear by them.

Don't have any info on Barley - sorry.

When I lived in California, the only hay we could get was alfalfa. It is higher in protein and calcium which can through off that calcium:phosphorus ratio but we used to cut it with wheat straw, if we could find that; grass hay wasn't available where I was. If you don't feed it exclusively and just give it as a snack, maybe a flake a day to put a little more on him for winter shouldn't make him crazy.
    07-27-2012, 05:54 PM
Green Broke
Originally Posted by binkac    
If you don't feed it exclusively and just give it as a snack, maybe a flake a day to put a little more on him for winter shouldn't make him crazy.
I was thinking along those lines as well. My mare gets a heavier ratio of alfalfa to bermuda, but she's half draft and burns it up just standing there. Bart is morgan/qtr so I think he actually produces his own protein! Ah well. For the price of the Nutrena, so far I'm not that impressed. I will do some research on barley and try to go a more natural route.

Thanks you guys, for all your input. If you think of anything else, sing out.

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