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jmc 10-17-2012 10:00 PM

Horse not losing weight
I have a young Rocky that is the very definition of Air Fern. He's only 3.5 years old. In April, he was of a good weight... I had to go help a friend for a couple of weeks, and upon my return he had gained 100# (!!) In TWO WEEKS!

I've spent all summer and now this fall trying to get the weight off. He's been on pasture 24/7 but we recently moved to a new place where I have access to a stall. He isn't very happy about that, so the stall isn't yet seeing much use. I also noticed he sometimes stocks up a bit behind if left in a stall.

He gets no concentrates. He was at first wearing a grazing muzzle 12 hours a day, but for the last three months it's been on 24/7, except when he's been in the stall. In the stall, he has a small hole haynet with no more than three flakes of hay for a night.

He's down from fat to almost right (according to the vet), but I can't get that last 40# or so off of him! He hasn't lost any more weight in about the last month. He's too young to work hard enough to lose weight that way.

He gets some forage balancer cubes (about two cups, soaked to double the volume) with a Smartpak vitamin/mineral supplement, once a day, in addition to graze (with muzzle) or haynet.

Could he have a metabolic condition at such a young age? I've tried hard to keep him from getting fat, but at least one of the feeders at my original place had other ideas, which was one reason I moved (The BO honored my feed requirements, but I found prepared feed that was over twice that, on the weekends where the help feeds). That was in June.

Probably unrelated, but despite being in great health (aside from the weight), including some dappling, he has gained no height since last spring! He's been 14.2hh for a very long time, and this seems strange to me. He has "remodeled", gaining some chest and butt (not-fat width) and putting on some muscle (he was in a hilly pasture for a while - got fitter but not really much thinner).

Any help is appreciated. Have you come across a problem like this before?

Muppetgirl 10-17-2012 10:14 PM

Hmmm you didn't really elaborate on how much work you give him.

Just from personal experience a good working trot for twenty minutes 5 days a week will really sharpen him up. I think at 3.5yrs he could well handle that amount of work.

It's just like people, you can adjust your diet and lose a pile weight, but need to start working out to get rid of that last stubborn 5lbs.....20lbs in my case!

Cloudlover 10-17-2012 10:16 PM

I have a Rocky too and my horse had the same exact problems. He is 10 years old now and I first noticed it when he was 7. He gained an excessive amount of weight. I also noticed he had swelling in his sheath. I looked up all this symptoms and they all pointed to Equine Metabolic Syndrome (EMS). Basically what EMS is is like diabetes for humans, he has difficulty taking sugar and turning it into glucose. He was getting all of this sugar from the grass he was eating. I put a grazing muzzle on him and worked him and his weight went down significantly. This year however he has developed a crest on his neck and I have been unable to work him as much as I liked. Now he is on a supplement from SmartPak and I have seen an improvement.
EMS doesn't appear until the age of 7 or 8 years old and horses and Rockies are not prone to this syndrome. What you have been doing by putting a grazing muzzle on him is great! Depending on what type of hay you are feeding him, the hay shouldn't really affect him. I give my horse more hay because he is not getting as much to eat due to the muzzle when he is out on the pasture. I also the only thing I feed my horse are minerals called McCauley's M30. It is all minerals.
Basically all I can suggest is keep putting the grazing muzzle on him when he is out in the field where there is grass and possibly give him a supplement. Here is a website I found of when it is best to allow horses to eat grass and when to avoid it such as when the grass has high levels of sugar:
Grass Founder in Horses – America’s Horse Daily
Doing basic ground work like circles at a trot like Muppetgirl said is a great idea! Riding him around also helps, especially going up and down hills.
As for the his height, he may not get much bigger. Rockies tend to run short and some don't get bigger than a little over 14 hands. He may have just stopped growing.
Hope this helps :-)

loosie 10-22-2012 09:07 PM

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Cherie 10-23-2012 09:18 PM

I have known a couple of horses that had thyroid problems and could not lose weight unless they were put on a thyroid medication. The last one I knew was in California and they put it on a special supplement from Platinum Performance.

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