New horse - Lots of questions
So as some of you may know, there is a Belgian I love dearly who will finally be coming home either this Monday or in 2 weeks - Praying for this Monday or it'll be the longest two weeks of my life!!
He'll be arriving in not-so-great condition.
First his diet:
His current diet is very (VERY) limited hay and a 'bucket' of trotter. However much that is, is clearly not enough as he's lost a substantial amount of weight.
My plan is to supply him with well soaked hay cubes, probably alfalfa/timothy mix. Probably 2 quarts, 4 times a day - does that sound right?
As well as hay in a slow-net, I don't want him to have too much too fast and get himself sick - would that be too much right away?
My mare is on a ration balancer (Nutrena Empower grass balancer) should I put him on that? He needs to gain weight should I put him on that plus Ricebran, Oil or alfalfa? Or should I put him on something different all together?
I don't believe he's had any access to anything like salt or any other electrolyte, so I'll add electrolytes to his cubes rather than free choice salt for a while, I don't want him to overdo it right away.
He currently works an excessive amount, on hard surfaces - so I plan on putting him on MSM for his joints.
I'm positive he has ulcers - will the alfalfa in the cubes fix that or should I put him on another supplement to help with that?
His hooves are not-so-nice right now, I plan on having my farrier out immediately to see him, but will probably put him on brewer's yeast as well.
Is there anything else? I'll be introducing each of these things slowly, starting with the cubes.
His feet will be tended to by my wonderful farrier right away.
I'll also have a vet out ASAP to give him a thorough look-over and do his teeth (Which I'm sure are in need). His owners tell me he's been wormed just a week ago - but I'll still have a fecal done.
For a horse who works long hours on hard surfaces with limited hay, underweight and dehydrated - is there anything else I need to be thinking about?
What about his exercise level? He spends about 4 days a week working very hard, the rest in a stall. At my home I plan on turning him out daily and in at night - but there will be a dramatic decrease in exercise. How big a deal is that? I feel like until he's healthy I don't want to work him. Once he is he'll be used for casual trails. Is there anything I need to be concerned with about that?
If there's anything else you can think of that I should know please let me know :)
how much under weight is he, do you have pictures.
He should be eating 1.5 to 2 % of his body weight per day. so if he were 1000 pounds, then he should eat 15 to 20 pounds of food per day. Obviously he is alot larger, so he would need much more than that.
Majority of his diet if not all should be grass/hay you need to weigh the feed or give him free choice. I like slow feed nets as well, so they don't pig out.
Horses should be turned out 24/7 unless there is a reason why not.
you will need some kind of Ulcer meds if he has Ulcers. Horses need salt/minerals
and free choice water. Normally horses will take whatever salt they need and then slow down.
If he is severly under weight I recommend consulting with a vet.
Slowfeeder net full at all times of good grass hay. Alfalfa pellets, soaked with a teaspoon of salt and a vit/ min supplement. For starters, I'd put him on a good senior feed. Easier digestible, better for gain. Then, once he's up to weight, switch him to ration balancer. Since you mentioned Nutrena, I'd recommend the life design senior for him.
I strongly recommend omega horseshine or the dumor brand equivalent, ultra shine. Gives him much needed omegas, yeast, probiotics, gets him shiny, helps skin and hooves, is just good in general. Some alfalfa hay would be nice, helps soothing his stomach.
If you give salt and a vit/min, electrolytes are only necessary if he's sweating much.
Pictures would help but I'm going to guess that if he works as a carriage horse he is probably older. My first thought would be teeth and EPMS. Is he just underweight or also lacking muscle tone especially in his hind end? What you choose to add to his diet is only going to help as it's extra calories but I would skew my choices to a simple modified EPSM diet. Alfalfa for better protein to build lean muscle mass, oil for a concentrated calorie source and to provide fuel for the muscles if he is indeed suffering with the condition, a RB or vitamin/mineral blend (no need for an additional electrolyte as this is what a mineral blend is), salt and 40# or more grass hay. Changing him over to a high fat diet will take about one month to see results. Start with 1C a day and work up to 4 C. You must give the muscles time to adapt to using fat as a energy source. Many drafts are kept on a simple hay and whole oats diet so when you start messing with their food and adding a lot of extra stuff, they get suspicious and won't touch the food.
When the vet comes out make sure he's aware of proper sedation on drafts. Most are highly sensitive to the stuff.
In my limited experience with retired work drafts, they don't really relish down time. They are happiest working. He probably isn't broke to ride and initially it will be out of his comfort zone. Find a chore for him to do, harrowing the arena or dragging pastures are perfect. Keep him in light work while you are putting weight back on him to promote muscle gain.
Of course he will have access to water All the time No matter what! He has 2 buckets already in the stall he'll be in.
I won't have him turned out 24/7 my neighborhood isn't ideal for that. Personally I like my horses tucked in at night where I know they'll be safe. He stall is very large and substantial for a draft horse, my other draft has no issues.
I will definitely have a vet out ASAP too :) thank you!
I like the hay nets too. I've never used a senior food, I like to avoid soy and all of them have it - as it's higher protein % and less expensive.
I use Smart Omega for my mare because of her issue with sweet itch, I'll be switching her to Smart Bug Off, which also has omegas added in the spring. Would that be good for him too or should he have something more?
Ok is Sea Salt good or Iodized salt? Do you think alfalfa is enough for his ulcers or would he need something more?
Thanks - very good guesses. I don't want to get into his history or post pictures until he's in my barn - long story. But there will be pics hopefully this Monday :S if not the first week of March.
He is old, about 20, and you're exactly right, he's lost almost complete muscle tone in his hind end. He's lost a lot of weight and muscle on his topline and hind end. His front end still has some weight and some muscle, but less than 2 years ago.
How would I know if it's EPSM - A vet? What would I do if he did have it? Would it just be a diet change?
Good I'll definitely have him on alfalfa then! Should I do alfalfa/timothy cubes + Alfalfa pellets, or just alfalfa cubes? Of course soaked.
Do you mean Ration Balancer or Rice Bran? I was thinking Ration Balancer to make sure he gets all he needs.
He's the type to eat anything, but I'll be careful to transition him slowly.
Thank you about the information for the vet - I'll make sure!
I broke him to ride 2 years ago when I worked with him, he's a doll, I used to take him out for trails occasionally, he seemed to enjoy it enough. I don't have any harness things, or anything for him to do (no arena or paddocks, just big pastures). I don't want to ride him while he's getting better but perhaps I better take him out for walks for a while, or line-drive him around the trails.
Thank you all VERY much! I've got a lot to think about and make sure of :D My baby is coming home!! I've missed him so much, I don't think I've gone a single day without thinking of him since I left.
Get alfalfa pellets....they soak faster.....much faster.
As for soy....it has the best proteins, only better protein is in milk. IMO, soy-free it's just another hype..unless it's a serious allergy.....soy is good, of course in moderation, like everything.
As for any Smartpak stuff...never used them, and most likely won't. I like do-it-yourself.....;-)
So I swear by my omega horseshine :-).
Desert - Lol ok I'll use pellets!
As for Smartpak - I'm so not the type to buy into packages and gimmicks, but in looking at their ingredients and comparisons it's about equivalent, or better with the Smart version. So I go for that. :)
Thank you so much :D
To confirm the EPSM, you really must do a muscle biopsy. There are some signs however that might save you that expense. First off, send him through a gate and have him pivot on the forehand and face you. Was his movement fluid and effortless or was it like the power steering went out, he's leading with his head and neck but the back end isn't fallowing, he picks up a hind and it is slow to the ground or pauses in midair, does he slap the hind foot on the ground when he strides? Has he lost his stamina or desire to work? Is he reluctant to back? Muscle loss in the hind quarters is a big yes. Diet change is the only thing out there. The muscles can not use glycogen as an energy source so the body cannibalizes lean body tissues for energy. By providing 20-25% of the daily calories in the form of fat, the muscles adapt to using it as it's energy source.
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