Any help or ideas on fat horse - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 19 Old 07-13-2020, 10:55 AM Thread Starter
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Any help or ideas on fat horse

So here is the scoop Rocky Mountain 14 yr gelding. Spring grass came in and due to covid exercise went from 1 hour 6 days a week to 2 hours/ week. He put on weight. They opened the barn back up in June and he went back on a 4-5 day schedule. Has not lost any weight. He is on Seminole ration balancer. Pasture board 24 hrs. Has 4 other mates in pasture so a grazing muzzle will not work as he cannot defend himself and he cannot lick salt (live in Florida). He has a good neck but soft, not cresty. Fat pads at his tail and all the other places. 5 day power pack in May. Works well, eats well. Hoofs are great. On probios cookies, psyllium beginning of each month. So his topline is just starting to dip and a potbelly. I thought Cushings, so Vet is scheduled. Plan is to put him in a stall with run-in and switch to hay. Any other ideas?
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post #2 of 19 Old 07-13-2020, 10:59 AM
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Grazing muzzle + loose salt added to his daily feed. He will be okay not being able to bite, and there especially shouldn't be often fights within the herd if the herd is established. Kicking will be plenty. Loose salt is better than a salt block, as horses generally cannot get their needed salt intake from just licking a block. You can add it straight to the ration balancer when it is fed. I use Redmond Rock Salt from SmartPak.

Otherwise a stall with a run-in is okay, but I will always prefer to have horses with other horses so they can interact with each other.

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post #3 of 19 Old 07-13-2020, 12:06 PM
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^ This!

The only thing I think they miss out while wearing a muzzle is social grooming. But if you put him in a stall with a run, you are socially isolating him too.
In addition, being in a herd stimulates some extra movement. I love seeing our herd (6 horses ranging from 11 -30+ years old, 2 of the younger ones wearing muzzles) suddenly decide it is time for a race and yahoo around the pasture

My mare is one of the muzzled ones, and I just add about a tablespoon of plain white salt to her feed... Has worked really well and MS is not cool and dry either
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post #4 of 19 Old 07-13-2020, 12:48 PM
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My mare is a very easy keeper. I have mixed feelings on the grazing muzzle. For most of the day she is locked in a sacrifice paddock (large enough paddock she can run around, but no grass). She gets slow feeder hay nets for most of the day.

In the evening I turn her out with the boys with a grazing muzzle on for a couple hours.

All the horses are brought in overnight and fed hay until the morning.

I like my current set up as she learns not to panic being by herself. But she still gets lots of herd time. I don't like leaving a grazing muzzle on for too long - my fear is she will learn to get it off and then I will never be able to keep one on her again. So my theory is small amounts of time with the muzzle on. She is fairly comfortable with it and will drink, etc with it, but she has almost become successful in removing it.

We also have horrible horse flies here at the moment. I want the horses to be able to bite/scritch themselves with their teeth and she just can't defend herself against the bugs as nicely when she is wearing the muzzle.

I keep my horses at home so have the flexibility to try different arrangements. I'm not sure if you could have the same at your boarding place. But at the very least, I would suggest a grazing muzzle if your horse is to be left on the pasture. I'm not a huge fan of having horses kept in small run-ins. I find they are just too small; but if that is the only option it is better than having a horse that eventually becomes laminitic.
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post #5 of 19 Old 07-13-2020, 12:59 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cbar View Post
We also have horrible horse flies here at the moment. I want the horses to be able to bite/scritch themselves with their teeth and she just can't defend herself against the bugs as nicely when she is wearing the muzzle.
This is funny, as I have seen my mare using her grazing muzzle (the big, strawberry-basket kind) to her advantage and squash the horse flies (more surface area to hit those pests)!
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post #6 of 19 Old 07-13-2020, 04:00 PM
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I also have a very easy keeper. If this horse is easy to put weight on year around, I may recommend feeding a complete vitamin/mineral powder or pellet supplement with some soaked hay cubes (to carry it, if needed), which is what my easy keeper has been on for a while now. I've often found ration balancers still packed weight on, even with lots of exercise. I also agree with limiting the grass, wherever possible.

If you haven't, I'd also recommend speaking with the vet about IR, along side Cushings and possibly testing. If this is an issue for him, then 24/7 grass could easily push him over that line into laminitis and associated issues.
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post #7 of 19 Old 07-13-2020, 06:57 PM Thread Starter
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I ordered a thin line grazing muzzle and salt is going in his feed. Thanks for the input!
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post #8 of 19 Old 07-13-2020, 06:59 PM Thread Starter
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Vet is due to come next week for blood draw. I will check calories on current ration balancer. Thanks for the input!
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post #9 of 19 Old 07-14-2020, 02:03 AM
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Originally Posted by nmedspot View Post
He is on Seminole ration balancer. Pasture board 24 hrs. Has 4 other mates in pasture so a grazing muzzle will not work as he cannot defend himself and he cannot lick salt
First, Seminole - is that the 'Equalise'? Seems OK, as far as ration balancers go - it's low NSC, it's low dose rate, @ about 1lb per day for an average horse. BUT some things to consider - it has oils(fat) added, it has quite high Ca(esp in relation to the very low Mg). It has iron and potassium added, which can be problematic. And of course, as well as these specifics, any 'ration balancer' is a generic type supp, that may or may not have the appropriate amounts of specifics for your particular environment. Along with the Seminole, I would absolutely be giving extra Magnesium, to better balance the diet, but also for fat/IR horses, this can really help. This has been studied in regard to IR humans as well as horses & worth learning about.

If he's fat & on 24/7 (spring) pasture, you need to reduce his intake. I don't understand why you believe he can't have a grazing muzzle because he's in with other horses(& biting is OFFence, not DEfence), but that would be the best solution if it works, as it will reduce his intake but he won't be separated from his mates or locked up where he can't exercise himself. Otherwise you'll have to put him in a 'dry lot' or otherwise lock him up, for part time at least. As he will still need feed when locked up, you will need to get tested low NSC hay for him.

As for licking salt, if you're talking about a salt block, horses really don't get a lot from them, so it's best to provide loose salt or put it in his feed anyway.

Quote:
Fat pads at his tail and all the other places.
Dunno what you mean by 'good neck', but if he has obvious 'fat pads', then I'd guess we're talking long term & bordering on obese, not just a little overweight.

Quote:
So his topline is just starting to dip and a potbelly. I thought Cushings, so Vet is scheduled.
What makes you suspect cushings, aside from losing topline? Which of course will happen when he's not being as well exercised.

And yeah, exercise - I don't know how much exercise he gets in the paddock with his mates - depends on lay of the land, personality of horses, density of feed etc, but some horses will get a lot of exercise 'at home' but many, esp if it's a 'cushy' type paddock, won't get a lot. So more exercise will always be helpful. If you're considering locking him up, he will need you to provide a lot more exercise daily, to make up for this.
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post #10 of 19 Old 07-14-2020, 03:27 AM
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Glad you're getting a grazing muzzle! I would definitely work to reduce his intake, even if that means cutting out the ration balancer if you can find out what your area/hay is lacking, and supplement per that with a half cup of hay pellets instead. A lot of the time a ration balancer doesn't really do much since it's not tailored to specific environments. For example, my area has an extremely high iron content in water, soil and hay. Any ration balancer I can find locally is VERY high in iron, and low in things we don't have a lot of such as selenium. I ended up finding a mineral mix that is much more tailored to our specific environment and just feed that with a handful of soaked timothy hay cubes. Less feed, less intake, and more of the things my herd needs all in one go.

I think photos would help us a lot too! Especially since you mention fat pads- as far as cushings, blood work definitely can't hurt and is always a good place to start. If you can, I know most people can't due to boarding and such- try to promote as much movement as you can in the pasture or lot he's on when he's not working too, it can be anything from as big as putting up a "track system" to small changes like feeding in 20 separate tiny piles or slow nets if not shod, or feeding at the farthest end of the pasture from water. I also rotate herd mates with my gelding, putting him in with the "mean" mare for a bit who will force him off hay piles regularly to keep him moving around. It's good for her arthritis too!
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