Weight trouble with older arab and ration balancer.
My 18 year old arab is a very difficult horse to feed. He seems to fluctuate between extremes, he is either outright huge and fat, or ribby and thin. The barn owner is a little frustrated.
Right now he's in a hugely fat stage, and I have been asking them to cut back his food.
He is on pasture, but the drought has dramatically reduced the amount of edible grass.
Our hay seems alright, it's mostly grass with a little alfalfa.
He was on a 'coffee can' full of Strategy 2x per day, which after I measured came out to about 4lbs a day. I asked the barn manager to reduce him but she keeps forgetting.
I went to the feed store today and the guy talked me into a ration balancer. I bought a bag and told them to just give him a pound AM and PM (he is about 1100lbs or so).
I am hoping it will help keep him at a consistent weight.
This is the brand of ration balancer: ProAdvantage Grass Formula
He is on the grass formula. Anyone familiar with this brand?
Good or bad feedback?
Is there any way you can take over the responsibility of feeding your horse so his weight doesn't fluctuate so drastically?
From what you described, I wouldn't give any supplemental feed at all, and maybe back his hay down for the time being, until he's at his ideal weight if he's that heavy. It sounds as if you need to be more directly involved, if not taking over that responsibility entirely, if possible.
I'm glad you are weighing feed and not going by "flakes," "scoops," and "coffee cans."
I agree with you feeding your Arab if that is possible.
My Arab is 26 and has always been a "difficult" keeper; now he's a hard keeper. He's dealt with mild gastric (stomach) ulcers for the last eight years but, thankfully hasn't had a flare-up for a couple years.
I always attributed all that to the fact he was a starving horse poster child when I rescued him over 19 years ago but, I am reading more and more about senior Arabs that are hard keepers.
I have run the gamut with tests, he gets physicals twice yearly, that include his teeth, of which he has four molars missing:-(
He is ribby but not "turn this woman in" ribby. Like your Arab he is always fatter on spring/summer grass.
He is a really picky eater -- I mean picky - especially when it comes to hay. Once hay isn't "fresh" anymore, he doesn't want it:shock: I'm glad I have mats on the barn floor because I have to rake up "the fluffies" for him. I'm ok with him not eating the stemmier stuff due to missing molars but, his desire for the prime flufflies is ridiculous and part of why he loses weight every Fall. You wouldn't believe how far we have driven for Prime Rib hay just for him and, sometimes he loves it, sometimes he doesn't.
Thankfully, I am recently fully retired so I can wake everyone up with a bit of hay or soaked cubes, then go back down an hour later to feed supplements and prepare everyone for turnout.
SO, At the moment (because this won't last until winter), my Dollface Old Curmudgeon gets:
1) about a pound of well soaked timothy/alfalfa cubes in the AM. That keeps his protein/energy level up.
2) ~2 lbs of Triple Crown 30% (my gosh he LOVES that stuff!) (divided in 2 feedings)
3) 1/2 pound of equine rice bran (divided in 2 feedings)
I can't shove too much food at him because he just won't eat. He has 22 acres of pasture to wander around on so hunting him down to feed him 3X's/day, in front of three other horses, is not feasible. The two pounds of TC 30% gives him his required vitamins/minerals.
4) Omega-3 Horseshine.
5) Brewers Yeast
6) Extra Vitamin E
7) Arthritis meds
His coat and hooves both have a healthy shine and his little 13.3H self still maintains second-in-command in my herd of four. His little 26 yr old self doesn't have a bit of problem keeping the 16.1H TWH, that is a bully, in line.
While the vet would also like to see a few more pounds on my Arab, the fact that his eyes are bright, he is more full of mischief and business" than many half his age, the vet says not to worry.
My point to all that was, it could be your Arab is entering a era in his life where you're going to see fluctuation with his weight no matter what.
So the best you can do is to feed him in the most healthy way you can for who he is.
Keep his coat & hooves shiny with what you feed him, not what you spray on him - lol lol
Keep his energy level up with a bit more protein. You'll know when you're overloading him with protein because his urine will have a really strong ammonia odor to it. Horses dump the protein they don't need thru their urine, thus the stronger-than-normal ammonia smell.
I hope this helps some:-)
Thanks so much! I can definitely manage his feed.
I was leery to take him off of anything because when he was on Buckeye Safe N Easy last year, I fed him below the recommended amount and his feet and coat suffered.
I thought a ration balancer would be good purely for the vitamin factor.
I also feed him Omega Horseshine.
He is so NOT picky about any feed, I am lucky in that.
He also looks like he's about 8, not 18. People are shocked when I tell them his age.
Right now though, he looks like he is in foal.
Streeter used to get that "In Foal" belly but he hasn't been that heavy for about the last three years. Even though the vet says not to worry, I do anyway.
In the winter, I stand in the hay loading area and pick thru the hay to get Streeter as much of The Fluffies as I can find; all the while telling him, he's "going down the road" if he doesn't stop being such a fuss-budget --right:-P
I haven't tried ProAdvantage, specifically, but a ration balancer is the right way to go. I'd try switching to just that, and if he starts dropping weight too quickly, use rice bran, beet pulp, and/or alfalfa to provide extra calories instead of grain. These are much easier on the horse's system to add/take away if his weight fluctuates.
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