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New_image 08-22-2011 04:43 PM

Picky Eater!
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What to feed a 17hh Thoroughbred who refuses to eat his feed?

He has free choice this years first cut grass hay and free choice this years second cut alfalfa mix. He eats about the equivalent to 1/2 bale a day. He is thin, I would like to see 75 pounds or so on him maybe more.

He will not eat feed (We've tried senior feed, pelleted feed and my "no no" sweet feed, strait oats, flax, rice bran, beet pulp and alfalfa cubes) the only thing he'll eat is a pile of carrots from the garden!!! Since he wont take feed he can't eat the sunflower seeds, oil or weight builder I'd like to try nor any herbs that would help create more of a appetite.

His teeth have been checked. Ideas?

eventerdrew 08-22-2011 05:00 PM

have you tried feeding the grain to him wet down? sometimes horses prefer it a little mushy!

Rachel1786 08-22-2011 05:51 PM

Have you considered ulcers? When my tb has an ulcer flare up she doesn't want to eat her grain.
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New_image 08-23-2011 08:25 PM

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I have not looked into ulcers. I have to date never had a horse with ulcers and never even thought about this. I will certainly look into it. What do you do for her?

Rachel1786 08-23-2011 10:22 PM


Originally Posted by New_image (Post 1147492)
I have not looked into ulcers. I have to date never had a horse with ulcers and never even thought about this. I will certainly look into it. What do you do for her?

Well for the longest time I just thought she was a witchy mare but then I stated reading thing on here and it seemed to fit to I decided to go out the next day and rub her belly and oh boy! the ears went back and I got the death look, then if I kept rubbing she would try to kick my hand. Before I started treating her she was a very slow eater and would kick the wall while eating. I started her on generic zantac(although prilosec is better I couldn't afford it). Talk to your vet about dosing, I was able to figure dosing myself as I have access to a veterinary formulary. After a week on the meds her symptoms resided and she was back to her sweet self and eating normally. A diet high in alfalfa(which is high in calcium) helps neutralize the ulcers, making sure they always have hay or grass will also help. A while after finishing a month of the meds she started showing symptoms again, I did another month of meds and also started her in ulc-r-aid which has been fantastic, a few weeks ago something got into the tack room and licked the bucket clean so she was without the meds for about a week and just from being off it that week she is showing symptoms again, If tomorrow she is still showing signs(i've doubled the dose of ulc-r-aid) I will go to walmart and start her on meds again! The only sure fire way to know if it's ulcers is to scope them, but that is pricey (i think it's 300-600) and having the meds work is a pretty good indicator to me, the generic zantac cost me about $48 for a month of pills at walmart where as the gastrogard(which is the same drug as in prilosec) can run about $1200/month. I'm not sure how much it would cost to treat with generic prilosec but i think I figured it out to be at least 200.

ETA: stay away from sugary and starchy feeds, corn and oats can really aggravate ulcers. Did your TB race? I've read that 90% of Tb's that raced have or have had ulcers.My Tb also dropped weight when she started showing the ulcers symptoms, she started acting up around sept/oct and I didn't realize her stomach was bothering her until feb

DrumRunner 08-23-2011 10:38 PM

A friend of mine has a horse that is the pickiest eater I have EVER met.. She's on the forum but I doubt she's seen this thread. I'll send her your way. lol she has lots and lots of tricks.. it's Sierrams1123

Alwaysbehind 08-24-2011 07:52 AM

I think ulcers are a great place to start.

Then get creative.
You simply have to be more stubborn than he is.

You say he likes carrots. Slice up carrots and make a mix of whatever feed he liked best that is heavy on the carrots light on the feed. Wetting the feed so it becomes a mush will make it harder for him to eat just the carrots.

Sure, he will turn his nose up at first but guessing if you keep at it (sprinkle some not contaminated carrots on top) he is likely to give in.

Any chance of finding out what he was willing to eat at his last home?

New_image 08-24-2011 08:41 AM

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Rachel - I will look into this. He loves his tummy rubbed and doesn't get grumpy about food, just wiggles his nose in the dish then walks off. But he is picky, doesn't eat enough hay, drinks a ton of water though.

Alwaysbehind- I think, in part, I own him because of his eating. He was a lesson horse at a hunter/jumper stable. They said he was a picky eater and would only eat sweet feed. I plan to switch him to what we feed whether he likes it or not because junk food isn't going to help anyone. ;) He hasn't shown interest in sweet feed either at this point. I know this is a big transition for him moving from a stall with a fan in it and daily lessons to a three acre pasture with buddies and a run-in. I think his hay eating is starting to pick up. I hoped a "normal" life and the competition of the other kids always eating would help him eat more. The half a bale his might manage to eat doesn't fill this horses left hoof! That or my Thoroughbreds are just piglets. I have been frequently going threw a 600 pound round bale every 3 days for the stallion & his two mares along with about 5 times the amount of grain I can get this gelding to choke down.

Alwaysbehind 08-24-2011 08:43 AM

That change might seem like a better life to you, to him it is probably very stressful. That might be adding to his desire to not eat (and the ulcer risk factor).

New_image 08-24-2011 09:41 AM

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I am aware of that, that is why I said it :)
He has already decided he likes it outside better than in a stall here though. This is a huge change for him and we've tried to slowly switch him over, like I said I was hoping the others always on the round bale would get him to eat more as well. His former home I noticed his stall had hay and grain and the others did not, indicating he didn't eat there either. He has started eating more than when he arived but I do not know what his "normal" is. He may just be eating more his normal now which is still not enough.

The funny thing is he really doesn't seem interested in grazing, he likes the round bale but doesn't do anything when at pasture. I have yet to meet a non gazing horse, which has lead me to think he isn't "just picky".

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