Please help me put weight on my horse
I have been browsing around for tips on helping horses gain weight, but it seems like so many are case by case so I decided to tell you all about my situation and see what your recommendations are. I have a 14-year-old Quarter Horse gelding. His teeth were floated a few months ago and he’s up to date on wormer. The problem is, this spring he got a little skinny (his ribs were showing a tiny bit) and I’m trying to put weight back on him. I am planning on showing him this summer so I really need to get him looking better soon. He has a fairly light work schedule, ridden about once a week with a little bit of walking and trotting so nothing that should be keeping him too skinny. His current diet is 2 scoops of Strategy in the morning (I’d say a scoop is about a cup and a half, so he gets approximately 3 cups of Strategy) and about 4 to 5 leaves of hay. In the afternoon, he gets turned out to pasture for a 2 to 3 hours and then for supper, another 3 cups of Strategy. He has access to a mineral block all day. Recently, I put him on a weight supplement Farnam Weight Builder (he gets 2 ounces with his breakfast and 2 ounces with his supper.) He has never been a hard keeper before, but our hay quality for the winter wasn’t very great and I’m really trying now to get him looking show-ready. Does anyone have any tips on how I can speed up this process? Like I said, he’s not super skinny but just needs a bit more weight to really look his best. The supplement seems to be helping some but maybe you guys know of types that work even better? Also, should I feed him more hay, like in the evenings once he gets back from the pasture? Or should I add more turnout time to his schedule? Please let me know your tips and advice. Thanks!
Pasture time and extra hay are the best things to help put weight on a horse. 2-3 hours out on grass isn't going to be enough without you supplementing him with hay overnight as well.
More hay and more turn out time is best.
I'm not a big fan of store bought feeds. We tried one that did help put weight on but once we stopped using it, the weight came off just as quick as it went on. I've also heard many stories of inconsistencies in quality, lacking different nutrients needed, and so on.
Besides giving more hay and grass, I would start giving beet pulp. Some may say that it causes choke but we've had only good results. What we get is rolled beet pulp. I think it's shreds that have been rolled in a big tumbler. The pieces are small. I don't like the big shreds. Soak it in hot water for about 1/2 hour and its ready to go. It also helps get water into a horse that doesn't drink enough.
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With my boy, I was pumping him full of beet pulp and alfalfa and free choice grass hay and while he was gaining, he wasn't filling in as quickly as I'd hoped. As soon as the spring grass came around though, he started packing on the pounds and filling out very nicely. I'd say to give him as much grazing time as possible, spring grass must be magic or something. :lol:
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I have had a few come to my barn recently that needed weight put on after a rough winter. Pasture wasn't quite up to par so early in spring. I made a mash mixture of Alfalfa cubes timothy pellets a scoop of beet pulp and a 1/2 cup Calf mana and fed them 2 times daily. along with regular feeding and free choice hay. I did up their exercise routine so they gained where needed and not just bloat up like a balloon.
Thank you so much for the advice so far. What's really vexing is that I've never really had trouble keeping weight on any of my horses (my other two are at great weights right now and are perhaps even a little chunky) so I'm really not used to this problem! lol I can post a picture later of what he currently looks like if you all want?
Going on the premise that the horse really needs the extra weight (I know far too many people who think their horse is skinny when it's at a healthy weight). e.g. if 6 is perfect, 5 is better than 7, but 7 is better than 4, etc..., but we won't get into the health issues that come with weight for horses. I'll trust that you know and your horse could be at 5 wanting to be at 6 (we all love perfection).
First thing to remember is never change a horses feed suddenly. Transition to it at least over a few days.
More grazing you can do right off, since that's just more of what he's already getting and barring anything unforseen (e.g. too much time on lush grass, etc...) it should be safe.
If you want something to transition to that will put weight on them the two most digestable feeds I know (not counting oils) are beet pulp (a good, but under used feed in my opinion) and copra (and they compliment each other in the Ca to P ratio). Beet pulp is an easily digested fiber that is taken care of in the hind gut. Copra is easily digestable and done in the foregut. Good for hard keepers, low in NSC, but you have to be careful with easy keepers unless you're working them enough (or feeding less).
But as already said by most of the posts here. More grazing is what you can do right now. Horses left to their own devices in a pasture will graze well over half the day (e.g. 14-17 hours) so 2 or 3 hours is relatively very little unless you have free choice hay in front them (and more hay might help put some more weight on too since that's not a lot of hay to go with a few hours grazing).
Of course in todays world of "what can we sell to the equine lovers out there that will buy anything labled 'for horses' :lol: " there's no shortage of things you can buy. There are LOADs of suppliments and feeds out there. I promise there's somthing that will claim to do whatever you need. I've even saw a friend had a jar of tea tree oil repackaged as a cream "for horses" at higher price (of course) than I pay for the oil :lol:
You cant do better than good quality hay and good grazing but beet is very good and safer as far as sugar levels go than a lot of feeds (don't get the molassed type) You can increase his fat intake by adding the correct oils in liquid or solid form like Cool Calories
Free choice hay over night and when he's not on pasture. More grazing, if at all possible, a couple of lbs of soaked alfalfa pellets, some Strategy sprinkled in, and, since you're not feeding the recommended minimum of Strategy, a vitamin/mineral supplement.
Pic would be nice, tho;-)
This feed plan has worked for me for years. Mix 2/3 whole oats with 1/3 senior pellets. I feed a little less than 1 small marg. tub (approx. 1 lb) each morning and evening. The horses are on pasture 24/7 and are also given hay as that is what they want. If they go inside when the bugs are bad slow mesh hay nets are hung at noon which keeps them nibbling all after noon. Getting weight on is not an issue. This same diet brought a skinny horse up to weight in about 6 weeks time.
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