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Bubbles 06-28-2012 05:31 PM

Emaciated rescue horse. What to feed?
Hello everyone! I was given a 15 year old grade mare and her 16 month old colt by some people I know. They were no longer able to care for them and I offered to take them because they had no other place to go and I was planning on getting a horse anyway. The mare (Callie) was a very nice trail horse, solid, dependable, and not at all spooky.

The problem is that she scores about a 1 to a 1.5 on the body score index. She is currently getting the best quality coastal hay I have been able to find. She and her colt are splitting a 75 pound bale throughout the day. I give them the whole bale in the morning and they eat on it throughout the day and night. By the time I throw them the next bale in the morning they are just cleaning up the scraps from the last bale.

I have never had to put this much weight on a horse before. I was wondering what type of grain/supplements you would recommend and in what quantities.

Skyseternalangel 06-28-2012 09:12 PM

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The best thing to do is get a vet involved. You will want to check to see if she has worms via stool analysis and if she does, then it's going to be very hard for her to gain.

However worming a very very very thin or unhealthy horse is risky. So it's best to get the vet involved so they can give you advice on what to do to avoid any problems.

Personally I'd only focus on upping the hay (if she gets it all at once, consider putting it in a slow hay feeder) and VERY slowly add in a fortified grain.

A probiotic also is a good thing to talk to your vet about. It helps horses absorb the nutrients from their food, and is imperative to have after giving the horse any kind of antibiotics. AGAIN, TALK with your vet.

The idea to to do things slowly. You don't want to rush the weight on or give them too rich a diet.

16 month colt is 1 year and 4 months old, so he should be weaned by now. Since he's old enough to reproduce, then he's old enough to impregnate his mom (gross I know, but he's a colt) so he should be separated until he is gelded.
How is he doing?

SueNH 06-28-2012 09:13 PM

Good grass hay is the best for a week or so. If she is really a 1 or 1.5 get the vet out and have him advise you. When they are that thin they can have complications beyond needing groceries.

I was given on that was a 2 last fall. I think the first week I ran outside constantly to see if she was still alive. I had hay in front of her constantly. After a week I started giving her a senior horse feed with probiotics and cup of rice bran. I worked up to amounts needed for a horse her size slowly. Once I got her eating what a 16 hand horse should eat I increased the rice bran. By this time it was cold out so I also added a nice warm beet pulp mash. I let her gain over the winter and by spring she looked like a different horse. Slowly switched her to a low carb, high fiber pellet.

Take some before and after pictures. Take a pic in the same position every 2 weeks or so. You might not notice the change until it's really on it's way.

Having the vet out also protects you should somebody turn you in as the one starving the horses.

themacpack 06-28-2012 09:45 PM

I agree with the above. Another reason a full work-up by the vet is your starting point is if they were no longer able to care for the horses, chances are they are not up-to-date on de-worming or teeth floating, both of which will frustrate any attempts to put weight on the horse regardless of what you use for a feed program. Until you have fully identified the cause of the current condition, you can't properly address it. If this horse is truly at the level you assess her to be, you will do more harm than good by attempting to feed her up without closely working with a veterinarian.

Bubbles 06-29-2012 12:00 PM

I am planning on buying some more fencing to keep the colt away from his mom until I can get him cut. He is fully weaned and scores at about a 4.5, I've already noticed a weight gain with the full access to the hay.

I've had Callie's teeth checked, not by a vet but he is certified to float teeth, and he says they are in good shape. The previous owner had her teeth floated a little over a year ago before they really hit hard times.

The closest vet is over 40 miles away so I don't know if they can do a visit but I will go and describe the situation to them and try to get a consult.

I have a bag of Strategy that is still good. Do you think it would be overboard to give her just a handful of grain? She's been on the hay for a few days.

Skyseternalangel 06-29-2012 12:06 PM

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As long as she isn't allergic to anything in Strategy then I think a little wouldn't hurt.

Make note of everything you do with her though. I suggest keeping a journal so when you do consult a vet or have anything come up, you can refer back to it and see if there are any patterns or how her weight progressed, etc.

SueNH 06-30-2012 09:10 AM

I don't think a handful will hurt either. It's hard not to want to put the food right to them. Resist!! It is by the handful that you should slowly increase. Hay is key for now. Can't stand not feeding her something? Get a bag of timothy pellets from tractor supply. Stay away from the richer alfalfa for now. Again just handfuls.

Don't worm her for a while yet. Poison is poison and it's only a matter of degree. She's too weak yet. When you do worm don't use ivermectin, use one of the older less effective ones at first. A massive die off of worms could colic her.

If you have a reputable rescue in the area ask them what they feed horribly skinny one.

Still...try to get a vet out. 1, 1.5 means she was nearing death. Vet may be seeing horses in the area. You never know until you ask. Maybe you could email the vet pictures of her overall condition.
Let us know how it goes.

Bubbles 07-02-2012 11:18 AM

Ok I described the situation to the vet and he recommended starting her on a senior feed VERY slowly, as some of you said by the handful. He said to keep an eye on her but other than slowly increasing feed at this point you don't want to do to much. The only senior feed I'm familiar with is Purina's Equine Senior so I got a bag of that to start with.

Skyseternalangel 07-02-2012 09:18 PM

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Good deal!

How is her baby doing?

TbLover 07-02-2012 10:19 PM

I have never brought back a horse that far gone, good for you for taking these two on. I agree with everyone else take it very slow at first. I would recommend a senior feed as well. I feed one of my underwieght TB's Senior grain.
I dont know if you know about the purina site but i frequent this site often to keep my mind fresh on the type of feeds and what they are there for and a recommendation of how much to feed. Purina Horse Feeds - PRODUCTS

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