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oats 05-18-2013 08:46 PM

Recovery for young rescues after starvation

I am adopting a young horse who is recovering from several years of malnourishment. He is stunted, but has made it past the dangers of refeeding and is starting to put on weight. He is likely around a body score of 3 but headed towards a 4 on the body rating scale after four months of being fed. He is just now three.

He is currently on a 14% protein feed with open access to pasture.

Some questions:
  • There appears to be a huge equine supplement market and I admit being a bit overwhelmed regarding if any of them would be valuable for him?
  • In general are there certain types of muscle/skeletal issues that I will need to be aware that he may be more prone to developing due to his prolonged malnourishment? Are there certain types of things a vet can do to baseline his development now, so any underlying weaknesses can be discovered and planned for?
(Just FYI, I do have experience working with young horses and I am adopting him fully aware he may not ever be ridable and am okay with that. I am committed to taking the animal on, and helping a creature in need. I am also leasing a big, rowdy, delightful QH/TB who I keeps me on my toes and challenges me to continue developing my riding skills, so I am okay if this animal turns out to be a companion only horse.)


Ashleysmardigrasgirl 05-18-2013 09:00 PM

Honestly, without the consulting a vet anything anyone suggests is likely to be a shot in the dark. The best thing to do for underweight horses is just free choice feed. Pumping horses full of high cal stuff usually comes with a lot of sugar too.

I wouldn't waste a ton of money on supplements that promise everything and the kitchen sink it's 9/10 times just flash in the pan.

I'm very sure that a competent vet would be able to tell you how well your horse has faired given his poor previous situation. I would say it really depends on how long/when he was starved, and if his dam was starving when he was being developed... I know you said it was a long time but, I would say the most important time for the foal is when it's developing in the dam and if she's being at least fed you have a much better chance in these situation. That's not to say she could be emaciated and foal a perfectly healthy foal but, the odds are just against it more, IMO.

I believe a long time ago I read a peer reviewed article on the benefits of adding glucosamine to a horses diet even in the younger ages being beneficial. I would start researching there and maybe have a chat with your vet because if I were in your situation I would be most worried about early onset of arthritis/osteoporosis.

cakemom 05-18-2013 09:10 PM

Honestly I'd put him on alfalfa pellets and mare and foal feed, with fast track as a supplement. Then if stick him out in front of as much hay as he wants and let him grown.
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SlideStop 05-18-2013 09:18 PM

Call the vet and have them pull blood and check his electrolyte levels.

My friend mare was 250 pounds under weight when she bought her. She was gaining weight SLOWLY, despite being on plenty of feed. Turns out she was deficient in vitamin E. It was so depleted what ever she could take in her body was using so her body couldn't make a store of it. After two weeks of intense vitamin E supps she was actually getting some muscle definition in her shoulders, her croup and top line filled in. It was amazing!
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